Takbar Haddi’s hunger strike for her son and Saharawi independence

Takbar Haddi begins her hunger strike

For forty-one years, we have never known liberty,” says Takbar Haddi as she explains the brutal murder – assassination of her son, Mohamed Lamine Haidala, at the hands of Moroccan settlers. For thirty-six days, Takbar Haddi was on a hunger strike, sitting at the doorsteps of the Moroccan Consulate in Las Palmas, Gran Canarias, where she now lives in exile. She was demanding something as simple, complex, and powerful as simple justice. On June 19, at the insistence of doctors and supporters, she ended her individual hunger strike, but others have taken it up, and so now people across Spain are on one-day hunger strikes. The hunger strike continues.

On January 30, 2015, 21-year-old Mohamed Lamine Haidala came to the rescue of a woman, a neighbor, who was being harassed by five Moroccan settlers. According to many reports, later that night Mohamed Lamine Haidala was killed by those same five settlers, stabbed numerous times. Haidala, who lived in El Aaiun, the capital of occupied Western Sahara, was an activist for Saharawi independence.

Seriously injured, Mohamed Lamine Haidala was taken to hospital, where he was denied anesthesia and painkillers during the procedure; arrested; and hauled off to the police station, where he spent the night sleeping on the floor. He was released the next day.

His situation deteriorated. The family took him from one hospital to another, and each refused treatment. Finally, he was taken, by ambulance, to Agadir, almost 400 miles away, where, again, he was denied treatment repeatedly. On February 8, Mohamed Lamine Haidala died in a hospital waiting room.

The story of occupation continues. Police confiscated Mohamed Lamine Haidala’s body. As of now, authorities still hold his body, and no autopsy has been performed. Takbar Haddi returned to Western Sahara, to no avail. When Takbar Haddi entered into her hunger strike, she demanded that an independent body conduct an autopsy and that her son’s body be returned to the family, so that they might honor his life and memory properly.

During her hunger strike, Takbar Haddi received support and visits from Saharawi independence activists such as Hmad Hmad, Brahime Dahane and Aminatou Haidar. Takbar Haddi said her son visited her in a dream and said, “Mother, find justice for me, mother, find justice for my body.” She then went on to explain, “Every mother knows the pain that one must feel at losing a child and not even knowing where his body lies. My heart is breaking.”

Since Takbar Haddi ended her hunger strike, others have taken it up, beginning with Teresa Rodríguez, Regional Deputy for Podemos Andalucía. They are joining with Takbar Haddi in her pursuit of justice: “For 41 years, the Saharawi have had no right to justice, to life, to anything.”

It is time. It is way past time to listen to the women of Western Sahara and end the occupation and the reign of torture. It is time to break the silence surrounding the violence. How many more must die before we realize our part in the deaths? How many more sons and mothers must suffer torture before we realize our role in the commission of terror? How many more Saharawi women must endure State violence before we realize that we are that State?

What happened to Mohamed Lamine Haidala? Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. Just another day in the occupation.

 

(Photo Credit: https://www.diagonalperiodico.net)

About Dan Moshenberg

Dan Moshenberg is an organizer educator who has worked with various social movements in the United States and South Africa. Find him on Twitter at @danwibg.