Day 127 + 31

Martin Dewhurst

One of the stalwart supporters of the Shirt project has been Martin Dewhurst from England. He has been actively working to improve the plight of refugees for many years and I was delighted for his support and guidance when I was in the UK.

Today he has uploaded a powerful article onto Ecademy. I precis here but suggest you read the whole article and watch the moving videos on the Ecademy site. Sadly the whole refugee issue is a real Myth of Sisyphus story so the initiatives of people like Martin and Nathaniel (day 127 +29) are so vital.

Martin says,
Whilst this may not hit the BBC News headlines anytime soon, thousands of civilians have made their way out into the desert from the Western Saharan cities of El Aaiun, Smara, Dakhla and Bujador.

On a Saturday, up and down the UK we gather in our thousands in support of football teams, we wear scarfs, shirts and hats emblazoned with our clubs colours, we swarm like ants in and out of grounds, then when its all over return to our homes.

In the Sahara, Western Sahara to be specific, an entire nation of people are united under a banner that is outlawed from display, in fact if you fly the banner you’ll be beaten, arrested and tortured or worse.

The banner that unites these people is a National Identity, it’s a culture, a heritage, a nomadic history of life and survival in the deserts of North Africa, and like a football fan that recognizes one of his fellow supporters in the street, the Saharawi recognize one another as brothers and sisters of one Nation unified from birth, even their language, Hassānīya Arabic, is different from the language of their oppressors.

If you have the good fortune to ever visit these people and live with them, stand amongst them to get some fractional sense of the strength of their culture and inherent values, you will experience social cohesion at a whole new level from anything you may have encountered, at least in the Western world before.

Ultimately we’re all human beings, beyond our family, cultural and national boundaries. What moves me beyond words is moments like these when Family, Culture and Nation are brought together in common cause, the Saharawi in this case are moving as one, they have a shared purpose, the right to their self determination, the right to decide their own future and to seek their independence on the land they call home.

Freedom, Liberty or Death is the powerful credo that unites every Saharawi man, woman and child. Freedom to seek their independence, liberty from their oppressors and the final choice Death, is their resolve, to die in the desert rather than live under the oppression and aggressive regime of the King who illegally annexed their land and continues to this day to plunder their natural resources.

In times of great suffering people from all corners of the earth come together and find their greater power, this time, right now as I write, the Saharawi are mustering their power that has simmered patiently on the metaphorical fire for 35 years, with half their Nation living in tented refugee camps in the Algerian desert on the other side of the heavily mined berm that runs the length of the country and the other half living in a police state of oppressive rule and treated like third class citizens, this show of solidarity is saying, enough is enough, now is our time to show our togetherness.”

Thanks for allowing me to add this, Martin.

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