Listening on the radio this morning to a Scottish man stranded in Lanzarote airport in the Canary Islands because of Flyglobespan’s collapse, I thought … this sounds familiar.
Not just because the holiday-company-collapses-leaving-stranded-tourists-desperate-to-get-home story seems to come around every Christmas (it’s as “traditional” as Jamie Oliver’s overcooked roast potatoes), but also because of the Aminatou Haidar case.
She, you may remember, is the Western Saharan independence activist whose been stranded at Lanzarote airport since 14 November. The Moroccan authorities had refused to allow her back into Morocco the day before (after she’d been awarded a human rights prize in the US) because she’d written "Western Sahara" as her home on her landing card.
Instead, she was flown to Lanzarote and, essentially, dumped there. For over a month Aminatou has been on hunger strike and this nasty – though under-reported – stand-off is escalating. There are now reports that she’s been hospitalised.
The case has been taken up by a few prominent human rights-y types like Ken Loach and Paul Laverty, and Amnesty is calling for her to be allowed to return to Western Sahara immediately and unconditionally (after all, I didn’t realise that “landing card separatism” was punishable by instant exile ….)
Naturally I hope stranded British tourists get back OK from their holiday destinations (mind you, I doubt they’d have been exactly cheered by the complacent tone of a Flyglobespan company administrator speaking this morning) but, equally, I hope the Moroccan authorities see sense and stop this petty – but dangerous – persecution of Aminatou Haidar.
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