Omeima Abdeslam endorses “In the Devil’s Garden”

Her excellency Omeima Abdeslam, Swiss representative of Sahrawis by the UN, endorses the online premiere of the film, which is slated for September 2019.

To stimulate the global publics and “anyone interested” in Sahrawis’ plight, Pavel Borecký and the film collaborators will release the film for a limited period of time to support the demining campaign in Western Sahara.

Follow the official website for more information and sign the petition “STOP MINAS” below.

Change.org – STOP MINAS

ZEOK organises Arabic language courses

The Leipzig-based organisation “Zentrum für Europäische und Orientalische Kultur” (ZEOK e.V.) provides students of Arabic language with the learning opportunity and “solidarity exchange”. The aim of ZEOK is “to increase mutual understanding and to present and cultivate the common cultural heritage in all its diversity.”

For more information, contact Mr. Wolf-Dieter Seiwert: w-d-seiwert(at)zeok.de.

Website of ZEOK and Facebook of ZEOK

Western Sahara International Academic Observatory

The Western Sahara International Academic Observatory (OUISO) aims to produce and to exchange knowledge about the historical, social, economic and political dynamics of the region of Western Sahara in order to understand the context for the Sahrawi diaspora.

“This observatory is administratively located in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Sorbonne University, but it is composed of a large international group of associated members. Its objective is to respond to the need for rigorous analysis and information about Western Sahara.”

Website of Western Sahara International Academic Observatory (OUISO)

Western Sahara Resource Watch: Where does the wealth go?

Ever since The Green March of 350 000 Moroccan citizens to Western Sahara in 1975, which, effectively, started the territorial occupation, the extraction and export of natural resources were in the spotlight of the sultan. No surprise. All wars go ultimately down to money.

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), the international network of organisations and activists, aims to preserve the natural resources in occupied Western Sahara for the usage of its people. The network demands foreign companies to leave Western Sahara until the solution to the conflict is found because “entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government.”

Western Sahara Resource Watch website

Javier Bardem speaks on behalf of Sahrawis

A documentary film that offers a look at how the colonization of Western Sahara has left nearly 200,000 people living in refugee camps.

Born to challenge the complacent position of Spanish government towards human rights abuses perpetrated by Moroccan ally, “Sons of Clouds”, film by Álvaro Longoria presents Javier Bardem as a narrator and spokesperson of Sahrawis. Watch the recent documentary film online.

Full film: Sons of Clouds (2012)

Javier Bardem for CCN: Morocco’s Untold Story

Czech Premiere: Sahrawis go to Prague

The 10th edition of the anthropological film festival “Antropofest” featured “In the Devil’s Garden”.

On December 12 I came to realise the inconvenient truth: “In 2019 it will be 10 years since I screened my student film “Gaj” in Prague at Antropofest. Five years later I wrote a controversial article which stirred a debate within (visual) anthropology circles. Its tone should have been different, yet I still think the text was of some value for collective reflection on the festival’s trajectory. In January 2019, I will be coming “home” with “In the Devil’s Garden”. It gives me goosebumps to see that both festival and myself are still out there, trying to do what we love the best way we can.”

The festival opened with a ludicrous performance of the chief festival designer Bohdan Heblík. Reading ready-made poems, cut out of 10 years of email exchanges with Antropofest team, Bohdan exploited his sense of irony and good-mannered humour that marked 10 years of no-budget collaboration (too bad no one recorded it).

My personal highlights: a nostalgia-laden “Remake of A Summer” of Séverine Enjolras and Magali Bragard, a revelatory tour-de-force of a forgotten pioneer of the ethnographic film “Marquis de Wavrin: From the Manor to the Jungle” made by Grace Winter and Luc Plantier, and a relentless participatory film project of Roger Horn and Feebee Lee Von Diamond, a transgender wine estate employee in Stellenbosch, South Africa, “The Sisterhood: The Visits with my Friends“.

Website: Antropofest and Facebook: Antropofest

Amnesty International on the watch

The globally-respected NGO, which sets standards for human rights movement as a whole, pays close attention to the situation of Sahrawis.

Amnesty overview: “Journalists and protesters calling for social justice and political rights were imprisoned, often following unfair trials. Judicial authorities did not adequately investigate reports of torture in detention. Impunity persisted for past human rights violations. Migrants continued to face excessive force and detention. Courts imposed death sentences; there were no executions.”

Website: Morocco and Western Sahara campaign of Amnesty International

A new film on “becoming Sahrawi” by Yolanda Schröder

An “In the Devil’s Garden” collaborator, Yolanda Schröder, presents her multimedia graduate project “Unity in Exile”.

“Since generations, the native population of occupied Western Sahara grows up in refugee camps in the Algerian desert, constantly being reminded of their dependence on international aid and media coverage. The film examines the ways that Sahrawis become part of a nation in exile that ultimately aims for independence. Secondly, it illustrates different perceptions of home: can home be found in the displacement itself?”

Yolanda Schröder finished her Master studies in Visual Anthropology at Aarhus University in 2017. The film debut is a part of her thesis: „Unity in Exile. The Practice of Homeland and Nation Amongst Young Sahrawis in Exile.

Watch the film Unity in Exile: Becoming Sahrawi

Read MA thesis: Unity in Exile. The Practice of Homeland and Nation Amongst Young Sahrawis in Exile

Recommended Reading

An essential reader on history, politics and nation-building in Western Sahara.

Konstantina Isidoros – Nomads and Nation-building in the Western Sahara

Pablo San Martín – Western Sahara: The Refugee Nation

Dawn Chatty (editor) – Deterritorialized Youth: Sahrawi and Afghan Refugees at the Margins of the Middle East

Stephen Zunes and Jacob Mundy – Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution

Toby Shelley – Endgame in the Western Sahara: What Future for Africa’s Last Colony?