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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Life is Waiting: Referendum and resistance in Western Sahara

Forty years after the end of Spanish colonisation gave Western Saharans hope for self rule, the country remains a disputed territory. While a UN-brokered ceasefire put an end to armed hostilities in the territory in 1991, much of its area remains under Morroccan military control and what peace exists in the area is fragile at best. Tens of thousands of the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara have fled to neighbouring Algeria where they have lived for decades in camps intended to be temporary.

A new Sahrawi movement, with youth at its centre, is rising to challenge human rights abuses and to demand the long-promised referendum on self rule. This generation is deploying creative nonviolent resistance and, in doing so, has had to persevere against a torrent of conflicting forces. While risking torture and disappearance at the hands of Moroccan authorities, they're also pushing back against those who have lost patience with the international community and are ready to launch another guerrilla war.

On Wednesday 18 March, 2015 the Hargeysa Cultural Center screened Life is Waiting, a new film from director Iara Lee, which examines the struggles of Western Sahara's young campaigners and chronicles the everyday violence of life under occupation. The screening was held at the Hargeysa Cultural Center and was followed by a short presentation of the history of the people of Western Sahara and a debate on nonviolent resistance and civic activism.

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