By Khalil Asmar, April 2, 2015. Published in Jadaliyya.

In any history of occupation, the forms of resistance the colonized populations adopted have been shaped by, and shape, the modes of occupations. Peaceful resistance in the Western Sahara has been no different; Saharawi methods of nonviolent protest underwent transformations, first during Spanish colonialism and throughout several phases under Moroccan occupation. The Saharawi peoples’ ongoing struggle to secure their independence has faced repressive ways and means, either during the Spanish era or the subsequent Moroccan settler occupation.

The aim of this paper is to document the dialectics in stages of non-violent resistance and the precipitating events that the occupied Western Sahara witnessed, from the Spanish colonial era to the ongoing Moroccan occupation. Because of the suppression of accounts outside of Moroccan state-sponsored narratives, particularly in the occupied territories and within Morocco, such records are essential in establishing a historical memory of the Sahrawi struggle. In addition, since Moroccan control, the Western Sahara has been almost completely inaccessible to journalists, researchers, and academics, causing considerable scarcity of information on different themes in relation to field studies in the occupied territories. Thus, this paper mainly draws on primary sources, including memoirs and first hand testimonies of eyewitnesses who experienced or documented the events.

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