Bergen politicians thrown out of Africa

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Four Norwegian Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet, Ap) politicians on a human rights reporting mission were thrown out of the disputed territory of Western Sahara by Moroccan police on Monday. The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara (Støttekomiteen for Vest-Sahara) said it’s the third delegation to be deported from Western Sahara or Southern Morocco in two weeks.

The group was comprised of the Bergen Labour Party deputy Rasmus Laupsa Ramussen, former Bergen Young Labour leader Natalie Milde, Dan Marius Svendsen and Lone Lunemann. Ramussen claimed they were stopped by 10 plain-clothed police officers just after they’d met with local human rights activists, who the police call separatist groups, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

“We were taken to a nearby bus station and our passports were taken,” said Ramussen. “When we came out of the bus station, 15 police gathered around us. They shouted and shouted at us, and commanded us into a car. It was a very uncomfortable situation.” Ramussen said there was no violence or threats made against them. He claimed another group of three Norwegians was brought into the bus station while his delegation was being taken away.

The group was visiting in cooperation with the Support Committee for Western Sahara, and planned to document and report on any observed human rights breaches, as well as asking communities about their thoughts on impending oil exploration. Ramussen alleged Morocco had something to hide in Western Sahara, “if not, they would have let us travel in and talk with whom we wanted.”

Senior advisor Richard Skretteberg at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said there must be a strong reaction to the arrest and harassment of human rights observers. “This shows why Morocco does not want transparency about the situation in Western Sahara,” he said.

newsinenglish.no staff