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Zemla Intifada: Wikis


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This article is part of the series:
History of Western Sahara
Western Sahara

Historical background

Western Sahara War · History of Morocco · Spanish Sahara · Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic · Spanish Morocco · Colonial wars in Morocco · Moroccan Army of Liberation · Ifni War · ICJ Advisory Opinion · UN in Spanish Sahara · Madrid Accords · Green March · Berm (Western Sahara) · Human rights in Western Sahara

Disputed regions

Saguia el-Hamra · Río de Oro · Southern Provinces · Free Zone


Legal status of Western Sahara · Politics of Morocco · Politics of the SADR · Polisario Front · Former members of the Polisario Front · CORCAS · Moroccan Initiative for Western Sahara


Moroccan Army of Liberation · Harakat Tahrir · Polisario Front · Zemla Intifada · Independence Intifada

UN involvement

Resolution 1495 · Resolution 1754 · UN visiting mission · MINURSO · Settlement Plan · Houston Agreement · Baker Plan · Manhasset negotiations


The Zemla Intifada (or The Zemla Uprising) is the name used by the Algerian-backed Polisario movement to refer to disturbances of June 17, 1970, which culminated in a massacre by Spanish forces in the Zemla district of El-Aaiun, Western Sahara (then Spanish Sahara).

Leaders of the hitherto secret organization Harakat Tahrir, among them its founder Muhammad Bassiri, called a demonstration to hand a petition calling for independence and fair treatment for Sahrawis to the Spanish governor-general of the colony, General José María Pérez de Lema y Tejero. They were allowed to read out the petition, but as the demonstration was dispersing, police moved in to arrest its leaders. Demonstrators responded by pushing the policemen away and when the police charged with batons, stone-throwing erupted. The Spanish authorities called in the Spanish Foreign Legion who opened fire on the demonstrators, killing at least eleven and wounding scores. Hundreds of people were arrested.

In the days following the massacre, Harakat Tahrir activists, Bassiri among them, were hunted down by Spanish security forces. Bassiri disappeared in jail.[1]

The suppression of the Zemla demonstration pushed the Western Saharan anti-colonial movement into embracing armed struggle. The militant nationalist organization Polisario Front was formed three years later.[1]

June 17 is now commemorated by Polisario supporters in Tindouf, Algeria, and has been used as a reference day for protests in Western Sahara.


  1. ^ a b Camacho, Ana (2008-04-11). "Terrorism and War in the Sahara". GEES. Retrieved 2008-08-09.  


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