Breaking News! Khaya Family Siege Updates
A US-based delegation of volunteers has gone to Western Sahara to break the siege of the Khaya family. For background information click here. Donate to support our ongoing efforts to promote nonviolence in Western Sahara here. Read more below to see our updates from the field team.
May 24, 2002 Siege of Khaya home re-intensifies with more agents surrounding the house. These past few weeks we have seen women visitors beaten by Moroccan forces with chains, their hands broken so they can't hold Saharawi flags' and youth visitors arrested and abused. Sultana's niece got beaten in front of Sultana's house trying to enter. Her husband escorted her away from this unsuccessful visit.
May 23, 2002, US Delegation of women, were forcibly put on the plane to Casablanca by unidentified Moroccan men. No legal rationale or basis was provided. One woman felt that her bra and shirt we deliberately lifted up.
May 23, 2002, US delegation of women are detained by Moroccan forces at Laayoune Airport. They are trying to visit their friends in Western Sahara, in particular the Khaya Sisters.
May 21, 2022, Tim and Ruth, release a dove at the front of the Khaya house, calling on the Moroccan forces to stop their siege, lay down their guns as Tim did many years ago and build a society based on consent and justice not on domination.
May 13, 2022, Ruth McDonough ends her fast and calls on people around the world to continue fasting for Western Sahara.
May 11, 2022, Ruth McDonough fasts for an eighth day.
May 10, 2022, Morocco sends an unsolicited ambulance to visit the Khaya home. The ambulance was filled with men pretending to be medical workers who had previously attacked and raped the Khaya Sisters. Sultana turned them away. See press release here.
May 9, 2022, Ruth BcDonough enters day #6 of a hunger strike. Sultan Khaya holds another protest today calling for human rights and self-determination. Solidarity fasts held around the world including Edward Horgan in Ireland.
May 5, 2022, Visitor Ruth McDonough begins hunger strike to demand an end to the rapes, siege and for a international independent investigation of the abuses of the Khaya sisters.
Please join Ruth and fast for a day in solidarity with her and the need to end the siege!
April 21, 2022 Morocco attacks Sultana Khaya's nephew, Mohammed Fadel Khayamore,yet nonviolent rooftop protests continue. Mohammed is released after two days in an adult jail.
April 20th. Live Report! Breaking a Siege in Occupied Western Sahara:
Shortened Version- 23 minutes
Moderator: Adrienne Kinne, past President and Vice President of the Board of Veterans for Peace USA and Field Volunteer, Presenters: Salka Barca, Co-Founder of Karama Sahara (Nonviolent US-based Advocacy Organization for Western Sahara); Ruth McDonough, Arabic teacher and Field Volunteer; Merwyn De Mello, international peacebuilder and Field Volunteer; Sultana Khaya, Renowned Western Sahara Human Rights Defender; Bill Fletcher Jr., Former President of TransAfrica Forum and Co-Chair of Campaign to End the Moroccan Occupation of Western Sahara.
April 19, 2022 Sultana Khaya installs flagpoles on the roof since the Moroccan government forces broke the hands of her friends who were holding the flag poles in previous days.
April 17, 2022, Brutalization of more activists in the neighborhood by Moroccan forces, yet daily protests on the roof continue.
April 16, 2022, 6 Women who joined the Khaya Sisters yesterday, were brutalized today at their homes. Moroccan forces tried to break their hands to punish them for holding Saharawi flags. Some are needing urgent medical attention.
April 15, 2022, Security has locked down the neighborhood for some reason unknown to all of us. Not a soul on the street, and the police chief is reported to be driving up and down the streets. Khaya Sisters and friends continue daily protests on the roof of their house. https://www.facebook.com/NonviolenceInternational
In the evening, Khaya family visited, despite barriers to the Khaya home, by prominent women's right and human rights activists, Boulsan Tufa and her sister.
April 12, 2022, Sultana Khaya assaulted by Moroccan settler outside her home. Moroccan settler threatened to kill everyone in the house which currently hosts two US tourists from the Human Rights Action Center.
April 6, 2022 Lilah Mohammed Habibi was released after being in police custody for 2 days where he was beaten. He has returned to his home. Protests continue daily on the roof. Moroccan forces surround the house but have not attacked.
March 31, 2022 On Thursday, March 17, Moroccan security forces abducted 14-year old Lilah Mohammed Habibi and his friend as they walked home after visiting nonviolent activist Sultana Khaya in Boujdour, Western Sahara. They forced the boys into their car and took them to the police station. Lilah was interrogated, yelled at, and violently struck on his arms and hands. He was ordered never to go to the Khaya house again. Later that day, both boys were released.Lilah was then taken back into custody on Wednesday March 30th after being asked to pass a nearby bag to a group of older boys. Moroccan police refuse to release the 14-year old who is being held in an adult detention center.
A call for an international investigation of the Khaya Sister’s abuse in Western Sahara continues from the UCP Volunteers.
March 24, 2022 After a week of visiting with Saharawi activist, Sultana Khaya, two of the international guests have safely returned home with no incident going through borders. They are available for interviews about the horrific human rights violations in Western Sahara. The other two guests remain, continuing to deepen connection, friendship, and solidarity with the Saharawi people.
March 22, 2022 UCP Volunteer delegation calls again for an International Investigation of Khaya Sisters’s abuse in Western Sahara after women and elders are attacked and prevented access to Khaya Home.
March 21, 2022 Sahrawi women are being attacked outside the Khaya family home while international visitors observe human rights abuse. Visitors leaving the house were shoved, stopped, harassed, phones were taken, they are back in the house, others went on the street to protest.
Strong coverage on Democracy Now!
March 19th, 2022 Wife & Husband Reunite During Halt of Moroccan Siege in Western Sahara
WASHINGTON, D.C./Boujdour, Western Sahara – Human rights defender, Mina Abaali, reunited with her long-separated husband at the home of Sultana Khaya which was recently released from a 482-day siege by the arrival of 4 international visitors in Boujdour, Western Sahara. Abaali had been forcibly separated from her exiled husband, Hasanna Dueihi, by the Moroccan Forces for three years due to their nonviolent protests for self-determination. When he heard that the siege had been lifted, he rushed to be with her. He told Khaya’s guests, “I am so grateful for you four volunteers that gave me this gift of finally seeing my wife. You are the other face of America.” Young boys who overheard his comment started chanting, “USA! USA! USA!”
March 18, 2022 - The siege has been broken for three consecutive days now. Sultana Khaya and several other activists were able to meet together and support each other today. Our UCP Volunteers continue to ask that their demands are met:
We call for and end to the rapes.
We call for the freedom of movement for the Khaya Family and all visitors.
We call for an independent international investigation of these human rights abuses.
March 17, 2022 - The Moroccans have halted the siege of the Khaya Sisters for 2 days; good friends and family can reunite after nearly 500 days of separation in Western Sahara. We hope the Moroccan approach will continue to change and that sexual abuse, repression, and dominance will be replaced by humility, friendship and respect.
Saharawi Women and the International Visitors joined the Khaya sisters in their daily vigil on their rooftop. Ruth McDonough said, “Our presence as Americans helped to break the siege but these women are the ones who are leading and all that I hope for them is for their voices to be heard and followed because it’s what they say that everyone needs to hear.”
A UCP Volunteer with Sultana Khaya
March 15, 2022 - At the invitation of the Khaya family in Boujdour, Western Sahara, US-based volunteers have arrived at their home to protect them from human rights abuses and break the almost 500-day siege of the house imposed by Moroccan occupation forces.
Supported by the Human Rights Action Center (HRAC) and NVI and a network of other human rights groups, the international unarmed civilian protection (UCP) volunteers, Ruth McDonough, Adrienne Kinne, and others, are currently guests in the Khaya family home. HRAC promotes adherence to the International Declaration of Human Rights.
Since November 2020, the Khaya Sisters have been forcibly confined to their home and the family has faced many forms of abuse, including home invasions, sexual violence and injections of unknown substances. The Khaya sisters have been raped by Moroccan security forces in front of their 84-year-old mother. Furthermore, their water has been poisoned, furniture and property destroyed, and electricity cut-off.
Referring to her experience, Sultana Khaya shared, “I am not the first Saharawi woman to be raped by the occupiers. I am simply the first woman to speak publicly about it. I have to expose the reality of the occupation. And I need to pave the way for the next generation of Saharawi women.”
UCP Volunteer in Western Sahara