quarta-feira, 8 de outubro de 2008

Belgium involved in illegal phosphate trade

These last days, a vessel has been unloading phosphates from the occupied Western Sahara at the harbour of Ghent (Belgium). The importer of these phosphates is believed to be chemical giant BASF.

Ten days ago, the Novigrad left the harbour of El Aaiún, the capital of occupied Western Sahara. The vessel carried 25.000 tons of phosphates originating from the Bu Craa mines, that are also located in the territories occupied by Morocco.

This week, the Croatian flagged vessel arrived at the harbour of Ghent, where it was unloaded. According to sources in Belgium the importer of the phosphates is BASF.

Today , the international price for phosphates is about 490 US $ per ton, which would mean that BASF should have paid 12.2 million US $ for the Saharan phosphates. This sum of money, however, will not have gone to the Sahrawi people nor the Saharan government, but will be transferred to the Moroccan state-owned phosphate company OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates). If our Belgian sources are right, it would mean that BASF has thus paid an occupying power for the illegal and unethical exploitation of non-renewable resources from an occupied territory.

Doing business with the Moroccan authorities regarding the natural resources of Western Sahara is highly unethical and politically controversial. Furthermore, the exploitation and trade of these resources constitutes a violation of international law, as is clearly stated in e.g. UN Legal Opinion S/2002/161.

The Belgian WSRW branch, Solidariteitsgroep Westelijke Sahara, has contacted BASF today, but the company was unable to confirm the alleged import and told us that any comment would have to be obtained from Germany.

RASD participates in the 15th Africa Upstream Conference on Oil and Gas

A Saharawi delegation composed of Emhamed Khadad, member of the National Secretariat and coordinator with MINURSO and Fadel Kamal, Saharawi Representative in Australia, is participating in the 15th Africa Upstream Conference on Oil and Gas since Monday 6th October 2008 in Cape Town, South Africa.

On Tuesday 7th October Fadel Kamal delivered a talk to the conference on the background and history of Western Sahara as well as the history of oil and gas exploration from the Spanish period until now.

Mr. Kamal underlined the steps the SADR has been undertaking to prepare for its future. He emphasised the agreements the SADR had signed with various oil companies and the successful licensing round that it announced in 2005 which culminated in the signing of 9 contracts with 8 oil companies.

He also informed the audience about the current licensing round that the Saharawi republic launched in 2008.

The Saharawi republic is also present with an important exhibition that highlights its potential in the oil and gas area as well as information on the country and its history.

The 15th Africa Upstream (Africa Oil Week) is taking place on 6-10th October 2008 in Cape Town. The conference is recognised as the premier international event on Africa and has become an important networking and business platform for the oil & gas industry.

The 15th Africa Upstream has been the landmark occasion in/on Africa’s oil and gas industry worldwide for 15 years.

This year the conference is attended by around 550 delegates from around Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, the USA, Australasia, Europe, Russia including 70 leading Speakers and Keynote Presentations by ministers, officials and company CEOs. There are 45 exhibition stands, including many African States and key companies.

The 15th Annual Africa Oil Week 2008 is the world’s largest and most significant exploration and development event on Africa for the global oil exploration and gas-LNG industry Calendar, with key African Government decision-makers, State and National Oil Company delegations, with senior oil executives drawn from across the African oil and gas value chain.

Spaniards in Australia ask why Spanish Sahara was never decolonized

A large audience of over a hundred was welcomed to Melbourne Filmoteca by Tristan Vasquez for their special film night in collaboration with the Australia Western Sahara Association entitled “Whatever happened to the Spanish Sahara?” held at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Federation Square, Melbourne.

Two Spanish films: the charming and wistful, “Lalia” by Silvia Munt and the interesting and amusing “Cubarawi Women” by Antonio Marquez, were both received enthusiastically.

Afterwards, Lyn Allison, President of AWSA welcomed a special guest, Alex Tilman from Timor Leste representing Fretilin and introduced a panel to answer questions from the floor.

Cayce Baierski visiting Australia from California spoke briefly about the two months she spent in the camps in summer 2007, Cate Lewis mentioned some of the many special links between the Spanish and the Saharawi people, while Ron Guy talked about activities undertaken by AWSA in support of the Saharawis such as sending a container of aid to the camps, protesting about Australia’s phosphate imports and about the forthcoming Australian delegation to the UGTSARIO congress in the camps later this month.

Discussion ranged over issues such as how the United Nations was involved in the conflict in New York as well as on the ground through UNHCR and the World Food Program, why Spain had not fulfilled its duty to decolonise Western Sahara responsibly and whether there was any way people could help by not supporting companies who were trading with Morocco in materials sourced in Western Sahara.

The wonderful example of the Saharawi women seen on the screen inspired over forty people to subscribe to the AWSA e-bulletin to keep themselves updated about what is happening with Western Sahara.

POLISARIO UK and Ireland Representation addresses a letter to European Parliamentarians

POLISARIO Front’s Representation in the UK and Ireland addressed a letter on the different issue of the problem in Western Sahara, to members of the European Parliament, this week.

The letter focussed on the legal aspect of the conflict, tackling at the same time the questions of human rights violations, UN involvement and peace process and the state of siege imposed on the occupied zones of Western Sahara and the efforts that the European Parliament can make to break this siege.

Here is the complete text of the letter, of which UPES received a copy:

(Western Sahara)
e-mail polisariouk@btinternet.com
e.mail polisasw@yahoo.com
Tel+44 (20)8964 52 11
Tel( M) +44 (0)7930 63 5583


Dear Member of the European Parliament,

As the new POLISARIO Front’s representative in UK and Ireland, it gives me an immense pleasure to send you, honourable members of European Parliament, this letter on the question of Western Sahara.

As you may be aware, the Western Sahara conflict has been going for the last three and a half decades. Western Sahara remains the last Non-Self-Governing Territory in Africa whose decolonisation process was dramatically disrupted owing to Morocco’s invasion and subsequent annexation of the Territory in 1976 in violation of UN resolutions and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. This will be discussed again at 63rd UN general assembly.

You may also be aware of the tremendous efforts that the United Nations have been deploying to bring the decolonisation process of Western Sahara to conclusion. These involved the joint elaboration by the UN and OAU of a Settlement Plan that was agreed to by the two parties, the POLISARIO Front and Morocco, on 30 August 1988 and adopted by the Security Council resolutions 658 (1990) and 690 (1991). The objective of the plan was to hold a free and fair referendum under the UN supervision where the Saharawi people could exercise their right to self-determination choosing between independence and integration into Morocco. Nonetheless, the referendum has not yet taken place due primarily to Morocco’s dilatory tactics and its lack of good will, which immediately caused the whole peace process to halt.

We expect that the General Secretary of UN, Mr Ban ki-Moon, will shortly officially announce the name of his special envoy for Western Sahara - it has been widely speculated that it will be Christopher W.S. Ross, a United States State Department official and former ambassador. His task will be to breathe new life into the UN process. The POLISARIO Front have taken part in the past four direct rounds of negotiations with Morocco under the auspices of UN in good faith and with the same sincerity and the same hopes with which it participated in the preceding negotiations initiated by Mr. James Baker III. It is regrettable however that the Moroccan representatives were reluctant to discuss any substance, expressing once again its unwillingness to move the process forward on the basis of self-determination.
Meanwhile the EU is considering granting “advance status” to Morocco. All agreements made under the auspices of the EU, and specifically the Barcelona declaration that underpins the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, strongly emphases the full respect of human rights.. As a reaction to Morocco’s obstructionist attitude, the Saharawis in the occupied territories started, on 21 May 2005, a series of peaceful demonstrations calling for the respect for the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.

There are numerous reports by Amnesty International that detail the Moroccan authorities response:

“Hundreds of Sahrawi activists suspected of participating in demonstrations against Moroccan rule in 2007 and previous years were arrested, including minors. Dozens alleged torture or ill-treatment during questioning by security forces. Some were tried on charges of violent conduct and others were released after questioning. In May, security forces forcibly dispersed demonstrations by Sahrawi students at university campuses in Moroccan cities calling for independence. Dozens of students were arrested and many were beaten. Sultana Khaya lost an eye, apparently as a result of beatings. Most were released uncharged but around 20 were convicted of violent conduct and sentenced to up to one year in prison. Sahrawi human rights activists continued to be harassed.”

And Human Rights Watch states:

“Moroccan authorities bar most activities they consider advocacy for an independent Western Sahara, invoking provisions of Moroccan law that criminalize attacks on the country’s “territorial integrity”.

And the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also documented the gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the Moroccan authorities against the Saharawi population in the occupied territories.

In the meantime, Morocco continues to plunder the natural resources of Western Sahara in violation of the right of its indigenous population to have a permanent sovereignty over its resources.

The least the Saharawi people can expect from the dialogue that exists between Morocco and EU is pressure on Morocco to end the atrocities carried out against the Saharawi civilians in the occupied territories, to give information about the 500 Saharawi victims of disappearance, and, in addition, to release all the Saharawi political prisoners currently held in Moroccan jails .

Although many delegations (including MEPs, MPs, Journalists. NGOs, diplomats, and students) have been banned or expelled from the occupied territories of Western Sahara I sincerely hope that the European Parliament’s delegation scheduled to pay a visit in the end of this year will be given full access. I trust that the delegation will use this visit as an opportunity to make it clear to Morocco that the benefits of advanced status will only be possible through the respect of human right of the Saharawi and progress in allowing the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right if self-determination without any constraints .
I am utterly convinced if the European Union is going to assume its political responsibility toward the Saharawi people it ought to act quickly and use its influence with Morocco so at last the Maghreb region will have a settled and prosperous future as a close and friendly neighbour to the European Union.
If you would like further information about the current situation in the Western Sahara please do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours Sincerely
Y. Lamine Baali POLISARIO Front Chief Representative UK & Ireland

Répression d’un sit-in pacifique dénonçant l’occupation marocaine du Sahara occidental

Goulmine (sud du Maroc), Les forces de sécurité marocaines ont dispersé brutalement un sit-in pacifique, organisé par les citoyens sahraouis à la ville de Goulmine, située au su du Maroc pour dénoncer l’occupation marocaine du Sahara occidental.

Les citoyens sahraouis ont exprimé leur attachement au droit inaliénable à l’autodétermination de leur peuple, "conduisant inéluctablement à l’indépendance", selon un communiqué parvenu à SPS.

Ils ont également appelé à la libération inconditionnelle de tous les prisonniers politiques sahraouis qui croupinssent encore dans les prisons marocains, notamment l’étudiant sahraoui, El Wali Gaddimi qui se trouve dans un état de santé "critique", a déploré le communiqué.

Les manifestants sahraouis ont dénoncé avec force les intervention barbares commisses récemment à l’encontre des citoyens sahraouis sans défense, à la ville de Smara occupée, saluant ainsi la résistance pacifique du peuple sahraouis dans les territoires occupés du Sahara occidental, au sud du Maroc et dans les universités marocaines, a conclut le communiqué.

Par ailleurs, deux jeunes sahraouis : Akhtour Ali Brahim, alias Ennafaa, et le jeun, Mohamed Essaluki ont été arrêté par les appareils de sécurité marocains, à la ville de Smara occupée et ont été sauvagement torturés, conduits au commissariat avant d’être libéré dans une heure tardive en pleine rue.

Les pétitionnaires sur le Sahara occidental appellent l’Onu à l’action

New York (Nations unies) Des membres d’ONG, des juristes et de simples "citoyens du monde" sont venus mardi au siège de l'Organisation des Nations unies à New York pour appeler l’organisation mondiale à l’action dans le dossier du Sahara occidental, où une "tragédie humaine oubliée" est en cours depuis 33 ans.

Les intervenants ont bénéficié de dispositions spécifiques au fonctionnement de l’Onu qui permettent à tout un chacun de venir s’exprimer en tant que "pétitionnaire" devant la 4e commission de l’Assemblée générale, chargée de la décolonisation, sur un des seize territoires non autonomes, dont le Sahara occidental fait partie depuis 1963.

"Des organisations prestigieuses décernent des prix à des militants sahraouis des droits de l’homme dans les territoires occupés par le Maroc, alors que l’Onu reste les bras croisés devant les violations qui y sont faites", a déploré M. Felipe Briones Vives, de l’Association internationale des juristes pour le Sahara occidental.

La revendication sahraouie à l’autodétermination est "légitime, celle du Maroc concernant sa souveraineté prétendue sur le Sahara occidental ne l’est pas", a-t-il affirmé. M. Vives a estimé que l’Onu "doit organiser le référendum d’autodétermination si les négociations entre le Maroc et le Front Polisario n’aboutissent pas dans un délai raisonnable".

"En droit international les choses sont claires. Ni le fait accompli, ni le temps qui passe ne peuvent faire mourir une obligation juridique", a affirmé de son côté M. Vincent Chapaux, assistant auprès du Centre de droit international de l’université libre de Bruxelles.

"Chaque année, vous le répétez : le droit à l’autodétermination reste applicable. Et c’est la raison pour laquelle il continue d’exister et ne doit rien concéder au fait accompli, à l’occupation marocaine", a-t-il ajouté, en s’adressant aux délégués des pays membres de l’Onu et de la 4e commission.

Mme Hilt Teuwen, d’Oxfam Solidarity, a dénoncé "l’injustice qui affecte des centaines de milliers de Sahraouis, victimes d’un processus de décolonisation sans fin". Déplorant l’irrégularité de l’aide humanitaire internationale aux réfugiés sahraouis, dont ils dépendent entièrement pour leur survie, Mme Teuwen a appelé les pays donateurs à "respecter leurs engagements humanitaires en attendant le règlement définitif du conflit".

"Il y a urgence d’une solution, car la situation risque d’exploser tant les réfugiés sahraouis sont proches de perdre espoir en l’Onu", qui a promis d’organiser le référendum d’autodétermination au Sahara occidental en 1992, a dit Mme Janet Lenz, de la Communauté de l’église Christ the Rock.

Dans les camps de réfugiés, "il y a une tragédie humaine en cours. Des enfants souffrent de malnutrition chronique, des milliers de personnes survivent dans des tentes, encerclées par le désert, à quelques pas seulement de leur patrie dont elles sont privées", a-t-elle témoignée, en résumant ce qu’elle a vu au cours de ses nombreuses visites sur place.

Mme Helen Hardin, du bureau du membre du Congrès américain M. Zach Wamp, a elle aussi déploré la situation précaire dans laquelle vivent les réfugiés sahraouis du fait de l’occupation marocaine de leur pays.

Mais elle a surtout salué la "résistance exemplaire des réfugiés sahraouis, qui ont réussi, en dépit des conditions difficiles, dans de nombreux domaines comme l’éducation de leurs enfants, l’alphabétisation, l’égalité des sexes, la gestion des camps, où l’ordre et la propreté règnent", a-t-elle déclaré.

La pétitionnaire a exhorté les pays membres de l’Onu à prendre des "mesures concrètes" pour venir en aide au peuple sahraoui dans son combat pour la liberté. Les réfugiés sahraouis "ont vécu tant de frustrations et de désillusions, (...) mais ils continuent de rêver d’un retour chez eux", a-t-elle dit.

Deux étudiantes sahraouies expatriées, Agaila Abba Hemeida et Senia Bachir Abderrahmane, ont également pris la parole devant la 4e commission, dénonçant les violations des droits de l’homme dans les territoires occupés par le Maroc et exprimant, au nom de la jeunesse sahraouie, sa soif de liberté.

Bulgarian Firm Ignoring Ethics

The Bulgarian fertiliser producer Agropolychim is in two days expecting a vessel with phosphates from occupied Western Sahara. The vessel could contain around 7.000 tonnes of phosphates. "Agropolychim must stop such imports and return the vessel to where it came from", demands Javier García Lachica, international coordinator of Western Sahara Resource Watch.
Read also: Letter from WSRW to Agropolychim, sent 7th of October 2008.
Update: The vessel has arrived Varna
04.10 - 2008 10:29

A Turkish bulk vessel, Burhan Dizman 1, is now heading for city of Varna, Bulgaria.

The ship contains phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara. Trade with such rock is considered highly unethical and most probably in violation of international law.

The vessel is currently doing a 14 knot speed in north direction, in the Aegean Sea, just off the coast of Turkey. It will later today pass through the Cannakale Strait and then Bosporus Strait. Possibly she will make a short stop-over in Turkey on her way.

It is estimated that she will then reach her final destination, the Bulgarian costal city of Varna, at noon, on 6th of October 2008.

From what Western Sahara Resource Watch can establish, the importer is the Bulgarian fertiliser producer Agropolychim, situated in Denvya, not far from Varna, along the railroad to the west of the city.

"Exploitation of mineral resources in Western Sahara in disregard of the wishes and interests of the local people is in violation of international law", said Javier García Lachica, international coordinator of Western Sahara Resource Watch.

Lachica points to the a legal opinion issued by the UN legal office in 2002, which says that if such mineral exploitation or exploration takes place in the disregard of the wishes and interests of the local people, then it is illegal.

"Most importantly, such imports as Agropolychim is doing is highly unethical. The trade is to the benefit of the illegal occupying power, but not to the legitimate owners of the minerals, the Sahrawi people. A majority of the Sahrawi people has been living in exile since Morocco invaded Western Sahara and took control of the phosphate deposits in November 1975", stated Lachica.

"Such trade lends legitimacy to Morocco's brutal and unacceptable occupation", said Lachica.

The ship has a DWT (deadweight tonnage) of 7.500 tonnes, which means that the maximum weight of cargo that the ship can carry is 7.500 tonnes. Since the ship also needs to carry other items (such as fresh water, ballast water, fuel, crew etc) the amount of phosphate rock she carries, should be somewhat lower, perhaps around 7.000 tonnes.

The vessel has IMO number 9381809 and is owned by Turkish ship owner Dizman Denizcilik