Thursday, July 28, 2011


Uruguayan activist threatened with expulsion from Spain over peaceful pro-Western Sahara protest

José Morales Brum urgently needs the support of readers on two counts. First to prevent his expulsion from Spain over his participation in a peaceful pro- Western Sahara protest in Lanzarote. Second to show the undercover police involved in this case that the world is watching.

The facts are these. José Morales Brum is a Uruguayan activist resident in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. He is a pro-Western Sahara supporter, a union activist, a member of the Partido Comunista de Uruguay and of the Espacio Sahara in Lanzarote.

On Friday July 22 the Saharawi collective on Lanzarote held a protest in the Calle Real de Arrecife to receive 12 young Saharan who are going to pass their holidays on the island. This is a tradition carried out each year throughout Spain where cities, towns and villages open their doors to these children so they can escape the refuge camps for at least a few weeks. The demonstration was also to demand justice for Said Dambar, the young Saharan who was assassinated in El Aaiún in December after being shot by the police. It was seven months since his death.

What appears to be a plain-clothes National Police officer wearing a baseball cap and with a camera started taking photos of the children and the members of Said Dambar’s family along with others taking part in the protest. He had also been present at other such demonstrations and José Morales responded by taking photos of him. Without identifying himself he attempted to snatch the camera away from Morales who naturally resisted. Those assisting the protest came to the activist’s help believing he was the victim of a street theft. It was at this point that the man shouted he was a police officer, waved his service gun at Morales and the others then sought shelter in a nearby cafe. He waited there till the local police arrived but never identified himself with his official badge.

On the following day José Morales went to the duty court to report what had happened to him. After being kept waiting for eight hours four plainclothes police officers arrived. The apparently had been monitoring the activities of a 15-M movement demonstration. They demanded to see his identification and residency card then informed him he was being detained for public order offences and for an assault on authority. He was held in the police cells overnight. The next day he appeared before a judge who set him free provisionally without bail.

On the Monday events took a more sinister turn. Police informed José Morales that the Brigada de Extranjería had sited him for very serious public order offences under the Ley Orgánica with regard to security. On Tuesday came the news that they had opened an expulsion procedure and he had 48 hours to appeal.

Answers are now being angrily demanded to a number of questions. A representative of the Dirección Insular de la Administración General del Estado in Lanzarote declared: “The Saharans have always been very correct in their behaviour.” If that is so, if they are always peaceful and well-behaved, why were the police taking photos of the demonstrators? Why was the plainclothes officer there? If José Morales had carried out the crimes of which he is accused, why was he not arrested immediately? Why was he only detained when he went to the court to report the actions of the police officer?

The actions taken against José Morales are completely disproportionate. He has not been given the opportunity to have his expulsion case heard in an appropriate manner. Indeed the actions of the police are also a hostile attack on the Saharan people and their cause.

José Morales many supporters state that if Spain does not permit judicial procedures to be correctly carried out then the country is on the road to loosing its status as a democratic State where its citizens are protected by their rights under the law.

Please sign the petition in support of José Morales online at: - or go to the Facebook page: Campaña Internacional de FIRMAS por el URUGUAYO José Morales.

José and democracy urgently need your support!

(José Morales is on the right of the photograph)

(Versions of the above article are appearing in various publications)

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