Khaya Siege Updates

Khaya Family Siege Updates

NEW! An updated edition of the report published about the 80 day intervention.

Download our report here.

(Content warning: images and descriptions of torture and abuse)


For background information click here.

Donate to support our ongoing efforts to promote nonviolence in Western Sahara here.

Read more below to see our report and updates from the field team during their deployment from March-June 2022.


June 3, 2022, Democracy Now broadcasts headline video of Sultana Khaya's arrival in Canary Islands.

June 1, 2022, Tim Pluta, Ruth McDonough, Sultana Khaya successfully arrive in Canary Islands Airport to a huge crowd and media conference.

May 28, 2022, NVI and delegation protest against Moroccan deportation and abuses in front of the White House.

May 27, 2022, Amnesty International Report. Morocco/Western Sahara: Investigate targeted assault on Sahrawi women activists.

May 27, 2022 US delegation arrives in DC and protests their Moroccan mistreatment and US policy towards Western Sahara at the White House an Noon.

May 24, 2022 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, 2022, 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, 2022, US delegation of women are deported 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 15/16, Large Truck Crashes into Khaya Home at Midnight. See NVI's Facebook page for a video shortly after the attack.

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 McDonough 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: 

Full Webinar

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ-ThflMV4I

Shortened Version- 23 minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_ZheGqLl1s

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.

Security has locked down the neighborhood for some reason unknown to all of us.
A
Ali
Not a soul on the street, and the police chief is reported to be driving up and down the streets.

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! 

https://youtu.be/WKi3eKnU2Xc

https://youtu.be/cW6gpk0Tpoc

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.”

We are streaming live on FB. Please watch this moving feed, take action, and spread the word. Please see this one page document for specific demands directly from the Khaya family.

 

A UCP Volunteer with Sultana Khaya

UCP Volunteer and Sultana speak on the roof about Women’s Rights.

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

UCP Volunteer in Western Sahara 


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Kuttab Brothers Debate the Future of Palestine

June 28, 5:00 PM Jerusalem time, 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Kuttab Brothers Debate the Future of Palestine:

Where are We Now and Where are We Going?

Register Here!

The situation in Palestine is becoming increasingly dire. Daily ferocious and deadly attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continue, alongside the blockade of humanitarian aid and medical care for those most in need. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, ongoing violence from settlers and the Israeli army against Palestinians persists, including harming civilians, land confiscation, and destruction of property. In Israel (1948 territories), Palestinians are facing unprecedented levels of discrimination and violence. 

Public declarations and positions by Israeli officials are undermining efforts not only for a ceasefire but also for a genuine and viable solution that ensures peace and security for all residents of the region. Subjugating the Palestinians seems to be the only solution offered by these politicians and there seems to be wide support for them.

Additionally, many experts warn that the Palestinian Authority is on the verge of collapse, rendering it even more powerless than before to provide for its population and protect it from these relentless attacks and violations, even in statements of condemnation.

The ongoing struggle has left many around the world with questions about the future of Palestine and the nonviolence resistance movement.

The Crucial Questions:

  • Where is the Palestinian movement for liberation standing now?
  • What is the future of the Palestinian political leadership?
  • Is there any viable solution to the occupation and what does it look like?

Joining us to answer these questions and many more are two brothers who have dedicated their lives to Palestinian liberation and peace.

Featured Speakers:

Jonathan Kuttab: Jonathan Kuttab is a leading human rights lawyer. In 1979, he co-founded Al Haq, the first international human rights legal organization in Palestine. Later, he co-founded the Palestinian Center for the Study of Non-Violence (now Nonviolence International) and also founded the Mandela Institute for Prisoners. Jonathan is a Palestinian Christian, past chair of the Bethlehem Bible College, and serves on the board of the Sabeel Ecumenical Theology Center in Jerusalem. Jonathan was part of the 1994 legal team for the Cairo agreement that resulted in the Oslo II Accord. He was a visiting scholar at Osgoode Law School at York University in Toronto in the Fall of 2017 and is a founding director of Just Peace Advocates Mouvement pour une Paix Juste, a Canadian-based international law human rights not-for-profit. Jonathan is a resident of East Jerusalem and a partner of the Kuttab, Khoury, and Hanna Law Firm in East Jerusalem.


Daoud Kuttab: Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and media activist. He is the former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. Daoud Kuttab is currently the director general of Community Media Network (CMN), a not-for-profit media organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region. CMN is registered in Jordan and Palestine and administers Radio al Balad in Amman and ammannet.net. He is a regular columnist on Palestinian issues with Al-Monitor, Arab News, and writes frequently in the Washington Post, LA Times, Al Jazeera, New Arab, Newsweek, The New Republic, and other publications.

Born in Jerusalem in 1955, Daoud studied in the United States and has worked in journalism since 1980. He has received several international awards, among them: the CPJ Freedom of Expression Award, the IPI World Press Freedom Hero, the PEN Club USA Writing Freedom Award, the Leipzig Courage in Freedom Award, the Next Foundation Peace in Journalism Award, and the Japanese Peace Award for producing Shara'a Simsim, the Palestinian version of Sesame Street.

Join us for an insightful and compelling discussion on the current state and future of the Palestinian movement, political leadership, and the quest for a viable solution to the occupation. We will be taking a limited number of questions from the participants. 

Register Here!

Direct Action by Solidarity Activists to Break the Siege

 

https://youtube.com/shorts/yD8V3kn-UKE?si=bGj0edTBl51e5Fst

 

 As we witness the daily horrific attacks against the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, we also see the global movement calling for a ceasefire and an end to Israeli genocide grow with protests taking place across every major city in the world today. Taking this activism a step further, many are also engaged in direct action to break the siege of Gaza that has lasted for over 17 years and intensified in the last 8 months. People that are ready to put their lives on the line to save others. These people represent us, the global nonviolence movement, coming together from different parts of the world and from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.These are the ones who said, in the face of the impossible, we want to do something.

This will be hosted by Sami Awad. Our impressive speakers updated us and answered our questions!

Freedom Flotilla-Ann Wright

Rabbis for a Ceasefire- Ilana Sumka

Host- Co-Director of Nonviolence International, Sami Awad


Register Now!

Stop Arms to Israel

NVI is supporting efforts to pressure governments, most notably the USA, to halt its weapons transfers to Israel so as not to contribute to further war crimes and human rights abuses.

Control Arms (which has recently spun-off from NVI) issued a statement that calls on governments to abide by the Arms Trade Treaty.  US Pres. Trump withdrew from the ATT and the Biden administration has shamefully refused to re-sign.  NVI is proud to have supported Control Arms and the Arms Trade Treaty and encourages all to support this valuable citizens' network and this humanitarian disarmament treaty.

May 2024 - #Stop Sending Arms - Control Arms Statement on the Israel - Palestine Conflict

1. Control Arms, in partnership with the Ceasefire Now coalition of 688 NGOs, calls attention to the role of transferred weapons, parts, and ammunition in facilitating the atrocities taking place in Gaza, and demands a halt to these transfers and the immediate establishment of a ceasefire.

2. Israel’s bombardment and siege are depriving the civilian population of the basics to survive and rendering Gaza uninhabitable. Today, the civilian population in Gaza faces a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented severity and scale caused by systematic, deliberate destruction of the basics of life. Palestinian armed groups have indiscriminately fired rockets into Israel without concern for the protection of civilians and with open disregard for international humanitarian law (IHL). 

3. We have witnessed more than six months of relentless Israeli attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, including the use of starvation as a weapon of war. The International Court of Justice has ruled it is plausible that this could amount to genocide. All States have an obligation to prevent atrocities. In these circumstances, the Arms Trade Treaty is clear: any transfer of weapons, ammunition, parts and components that are at risk of being used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law and therefore, must cease immediately. 

4. The four Geneva Conventions and customary international law obligates all states to ensure respect for international humanitarian law. By ending their supply of items that are at risk of being used in the conflict, major arms exporting states can help to bring an end to serious violation of IHL and most importantly to the suffering being witnessed in Gaza. As close partners to Israel, the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom shoulder a distinct duty in this regard.

5. Despite the United States and its allies repeatedly urging Israel to protect civilians in Gaza, the United States has decided to provide over US$14 billion in further military support without any new conditions to protect human rights. This aid includes expanded authorities for arms transfers and subsidizing Israel's defense industry. The U.S. should withhold this assistance or enforce existing laws, such as Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act, which prevents aiding countries that restrict humanitarian assistance. Failure to act risks prolonging civilian suffering in Gaza and escalating regional tensions.

Here is another coalition Letter to US State Department calling for a Halt of Weapons Transfers to Israel

For more information on Control Arms, here is a link to Control Arms work seeking to halt weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen. Otherwise, one can go to the website Controlarms.org

Nonviolence Can Heal National Traumas, by Jonathan Kuttab

Dear reader,

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and more generalized trauma are not only personal and individual in character but often afflict whole nations and peoples. Frequently historical in nature, trauma can be passed down intergenerationally. 

One of the greatest examples of such trauma afflicting  humanity is that of the Holocaust, compounding the historical experience of centuries of persecution, hatred, and discrimination against Jewish people. This is a trauma that made it easy for many to succumb to the doctrines of Zionism, offering Jewish empowerment via Jewish supremacy in a Jewish-dominated state as the only cure for their ongoing suffering. It has made many easy prey for fascist doctrines, of belief in the value of violence and military overkill as the only path to survival. It has also made it difficult for many to take seriously any path towards peace and reconciliation that is not firmly rooted in their military power and supremacy. And while many cynically exploit the traumas of the Holocaust for political ends, there exists a genuine phenomenon of authentic fear that cries out for healing and needs to be addressed.

That rabbit hole of domination and “deterrence” will likely doom Israeli Jews to eternal strife and enmity with their neighbors, leading to ever increased militarization since in their traumatized state no amount of military power will ever be sufficient, and any attempt by Palestinians to resist that domination is only likely to reinforce the trauma. Similarly, all peace efforts will be viewed with deep suspicion and reticence, particularly if they require concessions that seem to reduce Israeli military domination or appear to make Israel weaker or more vulnerable to the risk of future attacks.

As a Palestinian, I am keenly aware of these traumas. I realize, however unjust it is, that our liberation is tied to the healing of our oppressors from the traumas of the past, for which we are the current victims.

Rubble from a destroyed school in Palestine

I am also aware that armed struggle by Palestinians, however legitimate under international law—and even if it were directed solely at armed soldiers and settlers—still risks reinforcing rather than healing the trauma.

In addition to this, we cannot forget that the Palestinians also have a long history of trauma, are now being traumatized, and are in great need healing, especially when the current genocide stops and the difficult process of rebuilding Gaza commences. Tens of thousands of orphans, bereaved families, over 70,000 wounded, and millions who have lost their homes require not only justice but also time and space to undertake a long process of healing.

I am also deeply conscious of how attractive the call to violence can be for oppressed and traumatized peoples. The events of October 7—apart from the attacks on civilians at the music festival and the kibbutzim as well as the taking of civilian hostages, which are properly to be condemned in no uncertain terms—were also viewed by many Palestinians as a brilliantly successful military operation whereby resistance fighters armed with primitive hand held weapons simultaneously breached the sophisticated walls imprisoning Gaza in 30 locations, captured two army bases, including the headquarters of the Gaza Battalion, killing 340 soldiers and capturing about 40 others, and carried the fight into the territory held by their enemies (rather than their own). Despite the massiveness of the Israeli retaliation and the utter destruction of Gaza, the events of that day will likely hold an appeal to those who preach armed resistance for many years to come.

So we clearly need to resist the siren call for violence, especially in our pursuit of justice. But what can we do to bring about some measure of healing to these deep traumas that are currently feeding the cycle of violence and without the healing of which, no peace is possible?

NVI's fiscal partner, Holy Land Trust along with FOSNA held an extensive series of trainings, attended by over 70 Palestinians in the West Bank, to work on the process of dealing with ongoing trauma. We are also committed to pursuing such healing globally. 

Another conversation between NVI's new Co-Director, Sami Awad and Gabor Mate “From Pain to Healing: Healing Collective Trauma in Israel/Palestine” deals with this problem as well. It is this healing process that is urgently needed by all sides, and it is one area that supporters of nonviolence, can be part of the solution.

Peace,

Jonathan Kuttab, Co-Founder and Board Member

P.S.The Gaza Freedom Flotilla is delayed in Turkey, but another boat is headed from Sweden and is currently near Eurovision raising awareness of the ongoing blockade and siege of Gaza.

 

(Art Credit - Kayla Ginsburg - from CJNV)

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