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Aminatou Haidar

Aminatou Haidar is a well-known 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 as a result of her activism. In 1987, she disappeared for three years after participating in a demonstration against the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara and 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 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.

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