Andrew McConnell



Hamdi Jaafar Mohammed

Age: 46
Soldier of the Polisario Front, pictured in Tifariti, in Polisario controlled Western Sahara.


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I was born in 1963 in Wagcedhi. During the invasion I was a young boy but I remember what happened. I saw my neighbours being forced to leave, women and children walking and travelling in trucks. The Morrocans intervened in a barbaric way in occupying our cities. I fled with my brothers. My father was fighting to protect people as they were leaving the territory. It took more than one month of walking before we reached the camps. We travelled from place to place, people showed us the way, many many people died, there were a lot of scandals, a lot of harsh things.

I joined the Polisario and became a fighter at the end of 1981. On my first day as a soldier in the war we came under attack from a Morroccan plane and we were all dispersed. Someone shot at the plane with a normal gun and it came down! The pilot came down in the parachute and we captured him. Everyday something happened. I didn't believe I would die, I know the only one who can kill someone is God, not the Moroccan. I didn't believe that they could kill me or do anything to me, only I have a strong believe in God and God is the only one I am afraid of.

We were happy about the ceasefire, we didn't know much about the United Nations and peacekeepers being deployed, but we were happy because we struggled since 1975 and if there was anything that could help us gain our independence we were ready for it. But nothing happened. Only some detainees were swapped and there were some confidence building measures. Our one goal has not happened yet and our patience has run out. All we want is a free state without interference, we want to be like Algeria or Mauritania, with institutions, policies, with our own constitution, why not? We will not except to be controlled by others, for me to fight is better than anything else.