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Aminatou Haidar

Sahrawi human rights activist

Aminatou Haidar is a prominent human rights activist from Western Sahara, a disputed territory in West Africa claimed by Morocco. Haidar is the leader of Defenders of the Sahrawi Human Rights (CODESA), a group committed to advocating for the rights of Sahrawi people through nonviolent means. Throughout her career, Haidar has been arrested, imprisoned, and violently tortured. In 1987, she disappeared for three years after participating in a demonstration against the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, and she was jailed again in 2005 after she was attacked by Moroccan police during a protest. Haidar has often used hunger strikes as a means of protest during imprisonment, most recently gaining international attention for her 2009 Lanzarote Airport strike, where she persisted for more than three weeks. Haidar was featured in the documentaries “Life is Waiting: Referendum and Resistance,” and “The Problem: Testimony of the Saharawi People in Western Sahara.” Haidar is often referred to as “Sahara’s Gandhi” and was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2008 and the Train Foundation’s Civil Courage Prize in 2009. In November 2011, she was awarded the René Cassin Human Rights Prize and was given the Right Livelihood Award in 2019.

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