Saharan activist Haidar returns to homeland 2009-12-18 17:49:27   Print

    MADRID, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- Aminatou Haidar returned to her homeland on Friday, ending a diplomatic row between Spain and Morocco over the pro-Western Sahara independence activist.

    Haidar flew back to Laayoune, the main town in Western Sahara, on a special Spanish military plane equipped with medical equipment because of her fragile health.

    The 43-year-old activist had spent 32 days on a hunger strike on the island of Lanzarote in Spain's Canary Islands to protest Morocco's refusal to let her return home to the disputed Moroccan territory after receiving a human rights prize in the United States.

    Former Moroccan King Hassan II took control of most of phosphate-rich Western Sahara in 1975 after Spanish colonial forces withdrew from the territory.

    "The decision (to let her return), honors the king and the Moroccan authorities and once again shows their commitment to democracy and the consolidation of a state of rights," the Spanish government said in a statement.

    Haidar, who lives in Western Sahara with her husband and two teenage children, saw her return as a triumph for her cause.

    "This is a triumph, a victory for international rights, for human rights and for international justice," she said before boarding a plane home. "The first thing I will do when I get to my house will be to kiss my mother and my children."

    A spokesman for the Saharan independence movement, Carmelo Ramirez, said Haidar's return was a victory for her cause and had been made with no concessions to Morocco.

    "She is returning without conditions having been placed and without apologizing," he said.

    President of the Moroccan Senate, Mohamed Cheikh Biadillah, visited Spain in early December. Biadillah said that the Saharan people are fully integrated into Moroccan society and occupy some of the highest offices in Moroccan institutions.

Editor: Zhang Xiang
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