Today I have come across this wonderful infographic on The Guardian showing the timeline of the North African protests.
This has brought back to my mind a question I thought a few weeks ago and never got to share here. This is “where do you start when telling the story of these protests?” The Guardian, as most other accounts have, has chosen 17 December – the date when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia. Nothing surprising there.
But what if I pointed this out:
“HEY about a month before that, a protest-camp set up on a North African country to demand the end to «ongoing discrimination, poverty and human rights abuses against local citizens», was raided at dawn and dismantled by the police. The 5,000-20,000 protesters that were living there were expelled and their tents (and belongings) razed to the ground. Riots then spread to the neighbouring town, which was taken over by the police, who imposed a curfew and an international media blackout. 13 deaths were accepted by the police, although the protesters claim as much as 36 victims”
Would you consider this to be part of the same North African protest-wave that started in late 2010? It would seem there is an obvious link, isn’t it?
Well all of this ACTUALLY HAPPENED – in Western Sahara (Morocco) – in November last year (see more information here) , yet no-one seems to consider this part of the North African protests story? Why is this?
Is this testimony to Morocco’s ability to play the international community? Or does the nationalist/decolonisation element make necessary to look at these protests through different “optics” (now that this is a trendy word)?
Maybe it is just that when looking back, the media and commentators, have seen Tunisia as the obvious starting point and no-one has looked beyond/before that?
Or am I totally missing something and the Western Sahara protests cannot be considered in the same category as subsequent protests?