In 1987, at the age of 21, Ms. Haidar was one of 700 peaceful protestors arrested for participating in a rally in support of a referendum. Later she was "disappeared" without charge or trial and held in secret detention centers for four years, where she and 17 other Sahrawi women were tortured.
In 2005, the Moroccan policed detained and beat her after another peaceful demonstration. She was released after 7 months, thanks to international pressure form groups like Amnesty International and the European Parliament.
Since then, Ms. Haidar has traveled the globe to expose the Moroccan military’s heavy-handed approach and to plead for the Sahrawi People's right to self-determination. Her efforts helped change the Moroccan government's violent tactics for dispersing pro-independence demonstrations. Unfortunately, the torture and harassment of Sahrawi human rights defenders continues.
Ms. Haidar was born in 1967 in El Ayoun, Western Sahara. She is the mother of two children and holds a baccalaureate in Modern Literature. She has been awarded the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, the 2007 Silver Rose Award (Austria), and the 2006 Juan Maria Bandres Human Rights Award (Spain). She was nominated by the European Parliament for the Andrei Sakarov Human Rights Award. Amnesty International (USA Branch) nominated her for the Ginetta Sagan Fund Award. She was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize".
The award from the John Train Foundation will be presented at a ceremony in New York on October 20, 2009.
Find out more at www.freesahara.ning.com