During the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) which took place on Thursday 13 October in the European Parliament, the young Sahrawi woman Jadiyetu Mohamud (Khadijatou) pinpointed her rapist Brahim Ghali (leader of the Polisario separatists) through her testimony during the hearing entitled “sexual violence and rape as an abuse of power”.
(you can watch the full video of the conference at the Press Club below)
Her case was presented by Mr Willy Fautré, president of the NGO HRWF (Human Rights Without Frontiers). He said that “abuse of power leading to sexual violence and rape can occur in many contexts: in the family, in the workplace, in a religious setting, in the world of sport, in the economic and political world”.
Fautré explored two areas, the abuse of power by political leaders over women leading to rape and also the brutal power over women in wartime.
Citing two concrete examples involving politicians.
Jadiyetu Mohamud accused the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, of rape. She was then 18 years old. She had been invited by an Italian NGO, “Sahara Marathon” to go to Italy. She needed the authorisation of the Polisario diplomatic representation in Algeria for the first steps before applying for a visa at the Italian embassy. Brahim Ghali blackmailed her, she says, a visa in exchange for sexual services. She refused but was raped. She was told not to make it public because no one would ever marry her, while her brother encouraged her to press charges. It took her “two-three years to decide to file a complaint” when she was in Spain but the case was closed. “I see she is in the public eye and if you need more details you can ask her,” Fautré said in his speech to MEPs on the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM).
Another well-known case is that of Toufah Jallow, “crowned in a beauty contest in the Gambia”, who as she explains “was repeatedly raped by the former Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh”. She now lives in Canada and is also fighting for justice. Human Rights Watch has published an excellent report “on the multiple rapes perpetrated by Yahya Jammeh”, Mr Fautré stressed in his speech.
The two women testified last Thursday at the Press Club Brussels Europe. They also explained how difficult, if not impossible, it is to obtain justice in their case.
The young Sahrawi woman Jadiyetu Mohamed, for her part, recalled the rape case of which she accuses the Polisario separatist leader, Brahim Ghali.
“I was only 18 years old, I was a virgin. Brahim Ghali raped me. This is the worst thing that can happen to a woman,” Jadiyetu told the Commission on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM).
Her case is not the only one committed against girls in the Tindouf camps by Polisario movement officials according to reports. “The criminal organisation Polisario, created and financed by Algeria, has repeatedly threatened to commit terrorist acts from the Moroccan Sahara regions” said one of the sources.
The Polisario remains an organisation that escapes any control, despite the serious crimes and violations it has committed since its creation. Indeed, according to reports, the Polisario would have used the Tindouf camps as a platform “to sponsor kidnappings, looting and attacks of an arbitrary and terrorist nature, resulting in thousands of victims, not only among the residents of the Tindouf camps but also from Mauritania, Mali, South Korea, France, Spain and Morocco”. Thus, “the Polisario has caused casualties through armed ground operations or through attacks on boats and ships near the coasts of neighbouring countries”.
Nearly five decades of violations and inhuman treatment, the most prominent of which have been torture and arbitrary executions, have taken place in a climate of impunity, where the Algerian recourse mechanisms, the only authority responsible for investigating all violations committed on its territory, have refused to deal with or examine any file relating to violations committed by the Polisario.
The hearing at the European Parliament was a great success with the participation of Ms Katarzyna KOZLOWSKA, social activist, founder and president of the SayStop Foundation and Dr Branka ANTIC-STAUBER, collaborator with organisations supporting victims of sexual violence in Bosnia. It was closed by the MEP and Vice-Chairwoman of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) Ms Radka MAXOVÁ.
Toufah Jallow, speaking via zoom at a press conference held at the Press Club Brussels Europe on Thursday 13 October, said she was raped by the former president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh at the age of 18. She said she would like him to know that she exists, that she is there and is taking control of this story, with her own truth.
For her part, Jadiyetu Mohamed, a victim of rape by the secretary general of the Polisario (Brahim Ghali), presented her case to the Press Club Brussels Europe on Thursday 13 October 2022, alongside Willy FAUTRÉ, co-founder and Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, and Sophie MICHEZ, a lawyer at the Brussels Bar.
Before delivering her testimony to the journalists, she said that she is enthusiastic and motivated following her several meetings this day with different MEPs from different political parties, who declared their full support for her cause.
Jadiyetu Mohamed was able to speak with, among others, Bulgarian MEP Andrey KOVATCHEV from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), MEP Benoît LUTGEN from the Group of the European People’s party (Christian Democrats), MEP Hannes HEIDE, group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists, Belgian MEP Assita KANKO, Conservatives and Reformists Group, Estonian MEP Marina KALJURAND, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, MEP and Vice President Charlie WEIMERS of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, Irish MEP and Vice President Frances FITZGERALD of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), Mr Dick Roche, 4 times Irish Minister, Italian MEP Ignazio CORRAO of the Greens/European Free Alliance, MEP and Vice President of the Greens Ms Kira M. Peter-Hansen and Henri Malosse, political advisor to various MEPs and former President of the European Economic and Social Committee.
In her speech, Jadiyetu explained the facts of her experience and what exactly happened on that day in 2010 during her meeting in Algiers with the Secretary General of the Polisario, Brahim Ghali.
“It happened because I had continued to work as a translator in the camps and I wanted to be close to my family after so many years.” says Jadiyetu
“I wanted to help and collaborate. Unfortunately, they made me pay for it in the cruellest and most miserable way imaginable. This is the abuse I suffered at the [so-called “SADR”] embassy from Brahim Ghali (the secretary general of the Polisario, who invited me to talk to him and then raped me”, she adds
“Unfortunately justice is trampled on. As I have said several times in interviews, I no longer expect divine justice because I no longer believe in justice today. How can a cynic and a rapist travel freely and be allowed to enter a territory like Spain where he is being pursued by several victims and NGOs,” says victim Jadiyetu.
“It’s really cruel on the part of the Spanish justice system. But I am still here, fighting”. She concludes.
For her part Ms Sophie Michez, a lawyer at the Brussels Bar, recalled that she was not surprised by the facts of which Brahim Ghali and all the members of this movement (Polisario) are accused. She returned to her experience as an observer during the so-called Gdeim Izik trial in 2017, underlining the instrumentalisation by Algeria of the issue of the common law detainees in Gdeim Izik. Indeed, the charges for which the defendants were prosecuted related to the constitution of a gang, the murders of eleven individuals, for having mutilated corpses and for having set fire to public property.
Sophie Michez also welcomed the procedures that were taken during the trial, which, “contrary to what some people claim, confirmed the integrity and correctness of the reference practices”, she said.
In this sense, the speaker said that what really challenged her at the time was “the contempt for the victims and, even worse, the talent that these various protagonists, under the control of the Polisario, had for denying the barbarity of the facts for which the Court had been seized”.
Before closing the press conference, Mr Fautré recalled that sexual rape is on the rise. “It is essential that international bodies take the phenomenon seriously, starting by condemning the perpetrators,” he added.