Erik Hagen is a member of the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara. He was arrested on April 5 by Moroccan security forces in the capital of Western Sahara, l’Ayoune, and deported to the neighbouring country of Mauritania. Hagen was in the Moroccan occupied territory to interview human rights activists and former political prisoners, among them Sidi Mohammed Daddach, who two years ago was awarded the Rafto Prize for his lifelong struggle for an independent Western Sahara.
“Everyone I met knew about the Rafto Prize to Sidi Mohammed Daddach. They expressed that the human rights prize had given their struggle for an independent Western Sahara legitimacy. The Rafto Prize was an expression that the outside world supported their struggle, and the award was an inspiration to continue their work for human rights in Western Sahara and Morocco”, Hagen told us.
Even when the police interrogated Erik Hagen, he felt the significance of the Rafto Prize:
“At the police station, I was interrogated about what I was doing in Western Sahara, who I had been talking to, where I had been, what I had previously done in Norway and what plans I had. I told them I was going to meet Daddach, the Rafto Laureate. When I told them that Mr Daddach was known in Norway as a freedom fighter and a human rights activist, I noticed how the atmosphere in the room changed. Soon after the interrogation ended”, Erik Hagen reported.
Read the NTB interview with Erik Hagen: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-Update/message/1315 .