Page last updated at 00:25 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Western Sahara hunger striker refuses medical care

By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Madrid

Aminatou Haidar sits in a wheelchair in Lanzarote. Photo: 7 December 2009
Ms Haidar has been highly critical of the Spanish role in her plight

A Western Sahara independence activist has announced that she is refusing all medical care - three weeks into a hunger strike in Spain.

Aminatou Haidar has been fasting at Lanzarote Airport since she was expelled to Spain's Canary Islands by the Moroccan authorities.

They denied the activist entry to Western Sahara - a disputed region.

Morocco also confiscated her passport when she refused to define herself as Moroccan on an official form.

Ms Haidar's protest at her treatment has won the support of many prominent Spaniards including actor Javier Bardem and film director Pedro Almodovar - giving it a high profile.

'Terrifying' visit

For 22 days now, Aminetu Haidar has refused all food and drunk only sweetened water.

Camped out at Lanzarote Airport, she has said time and again that she will not eat anything, until the Moroccan authorities allow her back to her home.

Now she has increased the pressure on the Spanish government to resolve her situation, declaring that she will not accept any more medical help at all.

That decision follows what Ms Haidar calls a "terrifying" visit by a team of Spanish lawyers and medics on Sunday.

The hunger-striker says they came to assess the possibility of force-feeding her, instead of forcing Morocco to allow her home.

Spain's prime minister insists his government is doing everything possible to reach a solution.

On Monday, Morocco's foreign minister accused the campaigner of political blackmail, saying she was acting for the separatist Polisario Front that fought a war with Morocco over Western Sahara until the 1990s.

Ms Haidar denies that.

She has won several awards as a peace activist, and says all she wants is the right to go home.

But even as Aminatu Haidar's health weakens, neither she nor the Moroccan authorities are showing any sign of compromise.

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France24 MOROCCO: UN urges Rabat to allow Western Saharan hunger striker back home - 2 hrs ago
AFP via Yahoo! UN urges 'right of return' for W.Sahara hunger striker - 2 hrs ago
Reuters Africa Spain asks Western Sahara hunger striker to stop - 14 hrs ago Hunger strike is 'blackmail' - 25 hrs ago

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