Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Solidarity with the People of the Western Sahara

The inventory of the archives of the Polisario Komitee was recently completed. This archive, transferred to the IISH in 2014, is now organized and accessible for research.
The Polisario Komitee was founded in 1977 with the aim of opposing the Moroccan occupation of the Western Sahara and providing support to the Sahrawi people, who were being repressed. The Polisario Komitee supported the Polisario Front, established on 10 March 1973. Following a ruling by the International Court of Justice, and almost simultaneously with the death of the Spanish dictator General Franco, the Spanish colonizer pulled out of the Western Sahara in November 1975. Morocco and Mauritania then proceeded to occupy the area. Both states were keen to acquire parts of the Western Sahara because of its mineral wealth.

Polisario, poster ontworpen door Jos Collignon, 1979 BG D10/846The population of the Western Sahara was opposed to the Moroccan occupation, demanding instead their own republic under the Polisario Front. Algeria supported the Front. Between 1977 and 1990 the Polisario Komitee conducted a protracted campaign in the Netherlands to highlight the occupation and the attendant abuses in the Western Sahara. Support for the Sahrawi people was paramount. During the 1980s the committee’s activities declined.
The archive consists of meeting documents, documents relating to the committee’s establishment, grant applications, contacts with MPs, public relations, conferences at home and abroad, photos, negatives, and posters.

One remarkable item is a dossier concerning the disruption of a meeting organized by the Polisario Komitee in Rotterdam on 23 April 1985. The Polisario Komitee regarded it as an “organized protest” on the part of the Moroccan “Amicales” and denounced their “violent and intimidating practices”. The following month, political parties, other committees, and residents’ associations demonstrated their solidarity by collecting signatures.

The Polisario Komitee archives were inventoried by Lisa Lucassen, an intern at the IISH in 2015, for her minor in Archive Studies, part of the Bachelor’s course in Cultural Heritage at the Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam School of the Arts.

Bouwe Hijma

25 August 2015