South African international climate activist and human rights defender, Catherine Constantinides has been honoured by the Saharawi National Commission for Human Rights (CONASADH) as an honourary member. She was awarded this membership earlier this week, in the Saharawi Refugee Camps, south-west of Algeria where she has been working actively in the refugee camps for the past four years.
The President of CONASADH, Mr Abba Salek Elhassa, stated; “This is an expression of gratitude to her steady defence of the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination and for her global efforts in favour of the respect of Human Rights in Western Sahara”. Constantinides has been working to highlight and educate civil society and communities around the world on the forgotten people of Africa, the Saharawi and is no stranger to international
platforms including the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Constantinides was quoted saying; “I do all that I do because simply put, I have seen the truth. I can never rest until justice is done and the Saharawi people are treated with dignity and respect and until the Saharawi people are given their inalienable right to self-determination and freedom to choose their destiny, we cannot rest. I will tell their story and share the truth at every opportunity I have, and I will be there on the day that they celebrate their independence. It is a great honour to receive this membership. As a South African I am proud to be able to stand in solidarity with my fellow African brothers and sisters, the Saharawi people. I will carry this membership with booth honour, dignity and an immense responsibility to amplify efforts, as we work on the struggle of policy and power, ensuring that the question of Western Sahara remains on the agenda until their right to self-determination is realised”.
The Western Sahara is still illegally occupied by Morocco and has been since 1975. This is dubbed the ‘Last Colony In Africa’. Previously a Spanish colony between 1884 to 1975 when Spain failed to finish the decolonization process it promised to achieve. Instead, Spain, Morocco and Mauritania signed a secret agreement to divide this African territory into two parts to be militarily controlled by Morocco from the North and Mauritania from the
South while Spain maintained privileged economic interests especially in the illegal exploitation of the rich fisheries and phosphate of Western Sahara.
Constantinides is one of the champions behind an international solidarity campaign being launched by the Saharawi National Commission for Human Rights alongside other NGO’s both in the refugee camps, occupied territory and human rights activists from around the world, launching on Africa Day.
Follow her work and activism on social media @ChangeAgentSA