According to her legal team, Sultana Khaya, a Sahrawi activist, arrived in Spain for medical treatment after months in house arrest during which she was subjected to “numerous human rights violations.”
A Sahrawi woman holds a photograph of independence activist Sultana Khaya, who was injured by Moroccan authorities while being held in solitary confinement.
According to the Polisario Front, Sultana Khaya, human rights defender, reached southeastern Spain on Friday to receive treatment for injuries suffered during her 19-month house arrest in Western Sahara.
Her arrival came only 2 months after Spain agreed to acknowledge Rabat’s autonomy proposal for disputed Western Sahara, effectively ending Morocco’s year-long diplomatic crisis.
Moroccan forces have held Khaya, a well-known human rights activist who advocates for Western Sahara’s independence, under home confinement since November 2020 in the city
Her two sisters and mother were also held with her.
She arrived in Alicante on the Friday evening after eventually being permitted to leave her residence in Laayoune, the capital of Western Sahara, on June 1.
Khaya arrived in Alicante “where she will undergo medical tests,” according to Abdulah Arabi, diplomat to Spain for the Polisario Front, Western Sahara’s independence movement.
He did not specify how long she would be in Spain.
An excited public waved flags, ululated in delight, and shouted slogans as she arrived at the airport, according to social media footage.
Her legal counsel claims she was detained for “numerous human rights violations” and was in Spain to receive medical help for her injuries.
“She was raped 3 times by Moroccan security agents, tortured repeatedly, threatened with disappearance and death” according to the report. It also listed a number of other infractions.
Moroccan authorities did not respond immediately.
Her struggles have been acknowledged by the United States State Department as well as numerous global rights organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Front Line Defenders, among many others.
Moroccan security forces “repeatedly assaulted Sultana Khaya along with members of her family, and people visiting them since the beginning of the house arrest,” with abuse, sexual harrasment and rape according to Amnesty International.
According to the London-based watchdog, their detainment was part of “a larger crackdown by Moroccan authorities on Saharawi activists and critical voices within Western Sahara,” which aggravated following clashes between the Polisario Front and Morocco in November 2020.
Morocco regards Western Sahara as part of its territory.
The Polisario Front, on the other hand, has fought long and hard for Western Sahara’s independence, a desert region the size of the United Kingdom that was part of a Spanish colony until 1975.
In April 2021, Spain agreed to allow Brahim Ghali, Polisario Front leader to receive Covid-19 treatment in a Spanish hospital following a diplomatic crisis.
The move upset Rabat.
Khaya is the president of the “League for Human Rights and Against Natural Resource Plunder” and a member of ISACOM, which advocates for Western Saharans’ right to self-determination through nonviolent means.