The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law present

Western Sahara: Living Dangerously Under Moroccan Occupation

Aicha Dahane, International Officer of the Forum for the Future for Saharawi Women (Western Sahara)

With commentary by Dr Benjamin MacQueen, Deputy Director of the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University

10 May 2011
Held at Monash University Law Chambers, 472 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Aicha Dahane grew up in occupied Western Sahara. She became a human rights defender during her studies in law at Rabat University in Morocco and was forced to claim asylum in the UK in 2002.  Her eldest brother, Brahim, was released from jail on 14 April 2011 after 18 months in prison.  Brahim, who is President of the Saharawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations committed by the Moroccan State, had been jailed with six other human rights activists after visiting the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria.  Brahim won the 2009 Per Anger Peace Prize while in prison, which Aicha accepted on his behalf in Sweden.  Aicha has just returned from Western Sahara and Morocco, having given evidence in her brother's trial.  His surprise release on bail is due to pressure from human rights organisations and the widespread protests which are currently affecting North Africa and the Middle East.

Dr Benjamin MacQueen is a Lecturer in the School of Political and Social Inquiry and Deputy Director of the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University. He is the author of 'Political Culture and Conflict Resolution in the Arab World: Lebanon and Algeria' and many other works on Middle Eastern politics, conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction. He is a regular media commentator on these issues.

In this public lecture, Ms Dahane and Dr MacQueen will explore the consequences of Morocco's invasion of Western Sahara in 1975 after Spain's withdrawal. They will discuss the protest of 10 October 2010, when 20,000 local people known as Saharawi walked out of the towns and camped in the desert for 4 weeks at a place called Gdeim Izik.

Ms Dahane is being hosted in Australia by Australia Western Sahara Association (Victoria) Inc.

Video interview with Aicha Dahane