Testimony of Adrienne Kinne, a U.S veteran who witnessed Human Rights Brutality in Boujdour Western Sahara.
The first step of international legal condemnation of the Moroccan occupation crimes against the Saharawi people, especially the Khaya family.
My name is Adrienne Kinne. I am a veteran and former president of Veterans For Peace, a global organization of military veterans and allies with United Nations status. I served as an Arabic linguist in the U.S. Army.
I was a member of a four-person delegation who traveled to Boujdour, Western Sahara, in March at the invitation of Human Rights Defender Sultana Khaya. We were supported by the Human Rights Action Center, Karama Sahara, Nonviolence International, Solidarity 2020 and Beyond, and local Sahrawi.
Our goals included: ending the siege of the Khaya family home by Moroccan occupation forces since November 2020; stopping the rapes and physical violence; and an immediate impartial international investigation into the human rights abuses in Western Sahara.
I bring you reports of our experiences and observations in Western Sahara from March through May. The highlights include:
- Destruction of the home, including a, poisoned well, cut wires, damage from corrosive liquids, and broken and destroyed furniture and fixtures;
- Evidence of scarring and physical injuries sustained by the Khaya family.
- Round-the-clock surveillance and restriction of freedom of movement, including guests entering the home.
- Retribution against community members for providing repair services or offering assistance.
- Targeting children who visited the home. One fourteen-year-old was detained twice, beaten, and held overnight in an adult facility.
- On the holiest of weekends of Ramadan, Easter, and Passover, six women who had participated in a peaceful rooftop protest were brutally attacked. One woman was mocked by her attacker, as he helped break the bones in her hand, saying that she would never again hold a flag.
- And, an eyewitness account of the late-night crash by an industrial truck that deliberately attacked the Khaya house. The driver struck the house, backed up, struck it again, backed up again, and struck it yet a third time.
During the field volunteers’ stay in Boujdour, community members asked for medical assistance. Many had injuries and medical conditions that they did not trust the local Moroccan health care resources to treat.
I witnessed daily nonviolent protests by the Khaya sisters and their community mostly on their roof. The courage and persistence of the Sahrawis are amazing. The commitment to nonviolent resistance of Sultana Khaya, her family, and the Sahrawis against coordinated and persistent attacks by Moroccan Occupation Forces is a testament to their commitment to a peaceful and just resolution to the question of Western Sahara, their homeland.
I attempted to return to Boujdour with a team of three women in May; however, we were physically abused and forcibly deported from Laayoune. More than a dozen men agents and half a dozen women guarded us. We were asked what was “our mission.” We told them we were there as tourists, to visit friends, check on the well-being of the field volunteers in Boujdour, and defend human rights. The agents accused us of being “political.” They refused to identify themselves or put in writing the reason for our deportation.
In closing, I would like to state that it is imperative that no one dismiss evidence of rape, sexualized torture, cruel and unusual punishment, and arbitrary arrest and detention as “political.” Safety is not political. It is a fundamental human right. We continue to call for an immediate impartial international investigation into what has been happening in the Khaya family home and in Boujdour, Western Sahara.
Adrienne Kinne, M.S. Psychology & Social Work