The Student Peace Prize for 2009 will be awarded to the 23-year-old human rights campaigner and student activist, Elkouria «Rabab» Amidane, from Western Sahara in Morocco. The winner will be announced today at 10 am at the House of Literature in Oslo. The prize will be presented at the International Student Festival in Trondheim, which will be held from the 20th February to the first of March. Amidane has been fighting for an independent Western Sahara, and for the rights of the Sahrawi population in Morocco. She is known to be a sharp critic of the Moroccan authorities.
In a statement, the Moroccan Embassy in Oslo has pointed out that she receives a government scholarship and has been allowed to return to her native country without any problems, despite having protested in front of the Moroccan Embassy in Oslo.
– Brother in prison
According to the press release from the Student Peace Prize, Amidane’s family has been fighting for a free Western Sahara for a long time, and has been subject to persecution from Moroccan authorities. Her brother is in prison for taking part in demonstrations.
The committee responsible for presenting the award states that: «an important part of Amidane’s work is documenting the conditions in the country through taking photographs and writing reports for the human rights organization CODESA. She documents violations and publishes the material on the internet. Amidane frequently takes part in public demonstrations in order to show opposition to the Moroccan government’s treatment of the Sahrawi people».
– Receives scholarship from Morocco
In response to inquiries from Universitas, the Moroccan Embassy in Oslo wishes to state that:
«Rabab Amidane is a Moroccan student at the University of Marrakech, who is receiving a scholarship given to her by Moroccan authorities. She has travelled to Norway many times, with a Moroccan passport. We wonder how these costly, repeated journeys to and stays in Norway are being financed. »
The embassy agrees that there are problems in Western Sahara, and that there is segregation, but says that Morocco is working towards a solution. Sahara has never been an independent state, writes the embassy. However, «Morocco has handed in a suggestion of autonomy to the United Nations. The proposal is a response to the wishes expressed by the international community, and is meant to pave the way for dialogue and contribute to starting negotiations for a lasting solution to the conflict that has been created.» The statement from the embassy was sent via email.