Individual War Abolisher Award of 2023 Goes to Sultana Khaya

World BEYOND War has given its 2023 Individual War Abolisher award to Sultana Khaya, a Saharawi nonviolent human rights activist from Western Sahara. Khaya has been a phenomenally courageous leader in resisting the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara and in making the wider world aware of that ongoing occupation.

At the hands of Moroccan occupation agents, Khaya has had her eye bludgeoned out of its socket, has been hit in the head with rocks, has been injected with unknown substances, raped, beaten, and held under house arrest where she was terrorized for over 500 Days with her sister and mother. Surrounded by the Moroccan occupation forces, Khaya did not go silent. She staged protests on the roof of her house. She invited witnesses from around the world, snuck them into her house, and — together with them — spoke to the world’s media and anyone who would listen.

Sultana’s courage in speaking of her rape is rare, but she is the first to say that brutal attacks by the Moroccan occupation forces have not only happened to her, but are methodically practiced as sexual and other forms of torture on much of the population of the Saharawi people. Sultana has maintained her nonviolent resistance and insists that Western Saharans be allowed to exercise their legal right to vote for independence or to live under the rule of another government, and that they be allowed to live in their own country with basic human rights, education of their own design, and access to public health care.

The Moroccan occupation is supported politically, economically, and militarily, by the U.S. government and by the Israeli government, which is engaged in a similar occupation of Palestine.

Sultana has lived her entire life under the oppressive Moroccan regime, suffering and struggling to resolve this conflict with the use of nonviolence. She is now in Spain for medical treatment, where she continues to advocate relentlessly for an end to the occupation of Western Sahara.

World BEYOND War has just posted a video of an awards presentation conducted over Zoom. In it, Sultana Khaya says: “Thank you, and please accept my heartfelt gratitude to the World BEYOND War organization, as well as all international civil society that supports the Saharawi people in their just cause and belief in peace and justice for all.

“I accept this honor on behalf of all Saharawis, particularly Saharawi women who are continually targeted by Moroccan occupation forces! I also dedicate this prize to the oppressed Palestinian people. Tell them that we support them and that we share the same occupation.

“Finally, I urge you and all those who advocate for human rights and freedom to step up our efforts and demand the release of all Saharawi political detainees in Moroccan jails. I appreciate you once more for your efforts to create a better world free of oppression, injustice, and humankind’s devastating weapons.”

The award is presented to Khaya in the video by World BEYOND War’s Mohhamed Abunahel from Palestine. Khaya remarks: “We reject occupation. We stand in solidarity with all peoples seeking freedom, particularly the Palestinian and Saharawi peoples.”

Also in the video Salka Barca and World BEYOND War’s Tim Pluta, both of whom have worked with Sultana Khaya, express how much her work and influence has meant to them.

Sultana Khaya is the second annual recipient of the Individual War Abolisher Award. The Individual War Abolisher of 2022 award went to New Zealand filmmaker William Watson in recognition of his film Soldiers Without Guns: An Untold Story of Unsung Kiwi Heroes. Watch it here. The 2021 awards, which were the first, did not include the individual award.

There are four recipients of War Abolisher awards in 2023. The other three are:

+ Australian filmmaker David Bradbury, recipient of the David Hartsough Individual Lifetime War Abolisher Award of 2023.

+ Australian war abolitionist organization Wage Peace Australia, recipient of the Organizational War Abolisher Award of 2023.

+ Argentinian Peace advocates Fundación Mil Milenios de Paz, recipient of the Organizational Lifetime War Abolisher Award of 2023.

All of the awardees are honored for their body of work directly supporting one or more of the three segments of World BEYOND War’s strategy for reducing and eliminating war as outlined in the book A Global Security System, An Alternative to War. They are: Demilitarizing Security, Managing Conflict Without Violence, and Building a Culture of Peace.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. Longer bio and photos and videos here. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook, and sign up for: