What Does Biden Need to Condemn Algeria’s Crimes in Tindouf?
Picture eight and ten-year-old children in military uniforms, carrying rifles that are slightly taller than their stature. Add to that the testimonies of women who were tortured and raped, young men burned alive, and thousands of others who were deprived of the right to travel and even the right to contact their families outside the Tindouf camps on Algerian soil.
All this is happening in Algeria, and the world is silent even though calls for distress and condemnation are being heard by many international human rights organizations — and there has been no official reaction from the administration of President Joseph Biden.
Rather, the opposite is taking place. During the visit of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to Algeria to meet with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, the Algerian News Agency quoted Sherman as saying, “The relationship of the United States of America with Algeria is broad and deep, and we look forward to continuing to deepen our cooperation,” especially in the economic field, clean energy, security and other areas. She then added that “these are areas in which American companies can work closely with Algeria.”
As if the lives of young children have no value? As if their recruitment and killing is permissible for Algeria and the leaders of its Polisario group? Aren’t recruiting children, raping women and burning young people punishable by law? Or is the urgent need for gas today sufficient justification for the U.S. administration to close its eyes and present the Algerian regime to the American people as a reliable friend and economic partner? The magnitude of the contradictions that this administration has fallen into is a matter of disgust and shame.
The International Criminal Court noted that the contribution of any party, governments, armed groups or arms export companies to the exploitation of children is a crime against humanity.
Here we must underline the meaning of the word contribution. It is not necessary for our contribution to be directly material, as it may only be through our military and economic cooperation with the Algerian regime.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Protocols also condemns the recruitment, training and use of children within and across national borders in hostilities by armed groups, distinct from the armed forces of a State, recognizing the responsibility of those who recruit, train and use children in this regard.
Despite all this, the Polisario organization does not hesitate to recruit children between the ages of 12 and 13, and publicly displays them in military parades. This was brought to the attention of several non-governmental organizations operating in the region by a group of mothers who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. The children thus find themselves deprived of their childhood and forced to join militia ranks early in life, with all the psychological impact that this entails on them.
Returning to the documents and statements of the work of the 49th session of the Human Rights Council, currently being held in Geneva, and examining dozens of testimonies documented with evidence, I find no room for any doubt that the Algerian regime is fully criminally responsible and must be held accountable and punished in order to protect the lives of thousands of innocent people.
Numerous articles and press releases have been published, backed up by videos and photos — confirmed by the United Nations and the European Parliament — showing children from the Tindouf camps in military uniforms participating in military parades led the Polisario Front militia in Algeria, which as host country constantly refuses to assume its responsibilities towards the violations committed against children on its territory.
The media usually holds the Polisario Front responsible for what is happening in Tindouf and ignores the fact that the Polisario would not have survived one day in the face of the Sahrawi demonstrators had it not been for the logistical and security support, and even the intervention of the Algerian army and its intelligence in suppressing any uprising or movement condemning these violations.
The Democrats claim that one of their most important criteria in dealing with the issues of the international community is to stress the need to respect human rights and protect freedom of expression and other slogans, but we see this position today crumbling before our eyes.
Because they were just slogans.
Indeed, we should not be surprised when we see the Biden administration sending delegations to conclude deals and understandings with the repressive Maduro regime in Venezuela, as well as other negotiators paving the way for the Iranian regime’s return to the embrace of the international community.
But the American people have not and will not accept any political or economic barter for the blood of young children and the lives of innocent civilians who have been trapped in the Tindouf camps for 47 years. It would have been more appropriate for the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State to hold Algeria responsible for what is happening on its soil, as it is the duty of this administration to compel the Algerian regime to open these camps to international commissions of inquiry to find out the truth about the crimes committed by Algeria and its Polisario gang against the Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps.
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