US Citizen Starts Relay Hunger Strike to Stop Human Rights Abuses in Western Sahara
May 14, 2022
Ruth McDonough

WASHINGTON, D.C./Boujdour, Western Sahara, May 14, 2022 — Ruth McDonough, the US/British citizen and human rights activist, has been on a solidarity hunger strike in Boujdour, Western Sahara since May 4, 2022. McDonough began the hunger strike in order to bring attention to the brutal human rights abuses that the occupying Moroccan government continues to use to oppress the indigenous Saharawi people in Western Sahara, Africa.

Ruth McDonough

Ruth McDonough on Hunger Strike

After 10 days on the hunger strike, Dr. Tim Pluta, US/Irish citizen, who has been caretaking McDonough, placed her on a re-nourishment schedule due to changes in her vital sign trends. She is currently safe and in stable condition.

Individuals from dozens of countries worldwide will continue McDonough’s hunger strike by taking turns in 24-hour solidarity fasts. This relay hunger strike will continue until their demands are met:

  1. A permanent end to the rapes in the Khaya home.
  2. A permanent end to the occupying Moroccan forces’ siege of the Khaya home. 
  3. Allow an international, non-partisan human rights organization to enter the Khaya home to do a full report of human rights abuses that have occurred there.

Anyone interested in participating in the relay hunger strike by committing to do a 24 hour fast in solidarity with McDonough and Saharawi activist Sultana Khaya, can sign up at: 

McDonough said when she began the strike, “The Saharawi people have endured heinous human rights abuses since the beginning of the Moroccan Occupation of Western Sahara in 1975. As an outspoken Saharawi activist, Sultana has been targeted by the occupying Moroccan forces, enduring incarceration, beatings, rapes, and having one eye gouged out among many other cases of abuse. This must stop.”

Ruth & Sultana

Sultana Khaya is a human rights defender promoting the right of self-determination for the Saharawi people and ending violence against Saharawi women, through nonviolent efforts. She serves as the president of the Saharawi League for the Defense of Human Rights and the Protection of Western Sahara’s Natural Resources and is a member of the Saharawi Commission against the Moroccan occupation (ISACOM). She was shortlisted for the Sakharov Prize, an honorary award for individuals or groups who have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedom of thought. She was the winner of the Esther Garcia Award for popular struggle. As an outspoken activist, she has been targeted by the occupying Moroccan forces, enduring abductions, beatings, rapes, and having one eye gouged out.

Just Visit Western Sahara is a network of groups and individuals committed to justice for the Sahawari people, protection of their human rights, respect for international law, and encouraging tourism to reveal the beauty and appeal of travel to Western Sahara.

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