Embarca Ment Taleb Ould Hussein
oil on canvas
60" x 36"
As a woman in Western Sahara in the 1970's, Embarca Ment Taleb Ould Hussain led a fiercely independent life. She was an announcer for "Radio Sahara" in the capital city of Laayoune and the first woman to obtain a driver's license. However, like many other Western Saharans, or Sahrawis, her independence and ultimately her freedom were taken from her with the Moroccan invasion that began in 1976.
Shortly following her release from a one-year detainment, Embarca Ment Taleb Ould Hussain was abducted during a 1979 raid of her home, blindfolded, and forced into a waiting police car. In an instant, she had become one of Morocco's "disappeared," torn from both the life that she had built and from her 13-year old daughter.
Over 1000 people, the majority Sahrawis, "disappeared" at the hands of Moroccan security forces through the early 1990's. Of these, several hundred have been released, some after spending up to 20 years confined in secret desert prisons. Embarca Ment Taleb Ould Hussain was one of 200 to gain release in 1991 following pressure from human rights groups.
While dozens of other “disappeared” are known to have died, the fate of hundreds remains unresolved. The present Moroccan government has taken strides to redress the human rights violations of the past with the 1999 establishment of an arbitration commission to award compensation to victims of illegal detention and relatives of "disappeared". While the attempt at these reparations is itself unique within Middle Eastern and North African nations, critics maintain that is not enough. More than compensation, they want to know the true fate of all the "disappeared" – and they want those responsible to be held accountable for these atrocities.
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