sexta-feira, 14 de novembro de 2008

The Liberal Party of Norway demands EU clarification

The Executive Board of The Liberal Party of Norway demands that Western Sahara be excluded from EU's cooperation with Morocco.

Below is an unofficial translation, made by Western Sahara Resource Watch, of a resolution from the Executive Board meeting of The Liberal Party of Norway, November 8th, 2008. See original (in Norwegian) here. The campaign referred to below is to be found on the homepages of Western Sahara Resource Watch. ELDR refers to the European Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Party of Norway demands an independent Western Sahara!

The Liberal Party of Norway supports the campaign calling for Western Sahara being excluded from the cooperation between the EU and Morocco.

The territory on the north-western shores of Africa is occupied by Morocco. In 1991, a ceasefire was declared between the liberation group Polisario and Moroccan authorities, under the precondition that the people of Western Sahara were to vote whether it was supposed to be declared an independent state in 1992. This referendum has not yet been arranged and a large part of the people currently lives in refugee camps in Algeria.

Morocco is now about to be granted a so-called “Advanced Status” cooperation with the EU. But so far, the EU has not tried to prevent occupied Western Sahara from being included in the cooperation. The Liberal Party of Norway is very concerned for what consequences it could have for the Sahrawis and for their struggle for an independent Western Sahara if the occupied territories be included into the EU cooperation. Morocco’s Minister for Foreign Affairs has recently stated that the EU partnership will lead to Morocco getting international political support in the Western Sahara issue. It can also lead to Western Sahara’s economy being even further integrated into the Moroccan economy, through international commercial participation and possibly European aid arrangements.

The Liberal Party of Norway:
• Joins the campaign with the goal of having Western Sahara excluded from the so-called “Advanced Status” cooperation, which Morocco is about the be granted by the EU.

• Calls on the Norwegian government to put pressure on the EU to make sure that the occupied Western Sahara be kept outside of the EU-Moroccan cooperation.

• Calls on the ELDR to join the campaign.

Spanish political party calls on Spanish citizens to massively participate in a demonstration next Saturday in Madrid

The Spanish party of the Union for Democracy and Progress called on Spanish citizens to massively participate in the demonstration that will be organised next Saturday in Madrid on the 33 anniversary of the wicked Madrid Tripartite Accord.

The party reaffirmed in a statement, of which the Saharawi Press Service received a copy, that its vice president Rosa Diez with member Meguel buesa and others will participate in the demonstration called for by the Coordination of the associations of solidarity and friendship with the Saharawi people in the capital Madrid to demand independence for Western Sahara, demand the application of international legality, and denounce the human rights Violations in the occupied zones of the last colony in Africa.

The party pointed out that the demands of the Saharawi people are legitimate and in the course of dignity, and added in its statement that citizens favouring the right of the Saharawi people should march in support of this right on Nov 15 in the streets of Spanish capital Madrid.

The statement said that the president of the party will forward this urgent call to the Spanish Chamber of Deputies at a later time, the statement reminded also of the meeting of the party delegation with the representative of the Polisario Front in Spain, Mr. Buchraya bayon.

It was also mentioned that the union for Democracy and progress has initiated an awareness-raising campaign for the Saharawi question, accompanied by public activities at the level of Spanish provinces.

The Spanish party called on its members to massively participate in this demonstration on Nov 15, and this was included in a paper of the campaign titled "the campaign of the party of the Union for Democracy and Progress for freedom in Western Sahara".

Election of Aminatu Haidar as president of the Collective of the Saharawi human right defenders

the Collective of the Saharawi human right defenders (CODESA) announced the official constitution of the organisation a Saharawi human right organization and elected the Saharawi human rights defender, Aminatu Haidar, as its president.

CODESA, which works on the ground for the last 6 years in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, is considered by the Moroccan authorities as illegal, and was denied the right to the constitution last year.

Aminatu Haidar, an imminent human rights activist, and winners of many human rights prizes at the international level, had been arrested and tortured several times by the Moroccan colonial authorities because of her political position on the question of Western Sahara, and also engaged in several hunger strikes in prisons.

Since 2006, she started an international campaigns to raise awareness about the plight of the Saharawi people and the human rights violations in the occupied zones of Western Sahara. She visited so far Europe, US and South Africa in the African country.

Aminatu haidar, is expected to receive the Robert Kennedy award for human rights of 2008, tomorrow in the U.S capital Washington, and will be handed to her personally by the widow of Robert Kennedy.

Professor of politics and international studies at the American University of San Francesco, Stephen Zunes, told the National newspaper of Emirates that this award would reveal a terrible reality of human rights that is prevailing now in Western Sahara, which needs to be made public.

Yara under police investigation for Western Sahara shipments

The fertilizer company Yara remains under investigation by Norwegian police after having purchased a shipload of phosphates from occupied Western Sahara.

In August 2008, it was discovered that the Norwegian fertilizer producer Yara International had imported phosphates from occupied Western Sahara, despite previous promises that they would never again carry out such imports.

Yara has over the last 3 years followed the recommendations from the Norwegian government, which urges Norwegian companies to neither trade with nor invest in Western Sahara until the dispute over the territory is settled.

But despite earlier promises and despite Norwegian government policy, and despite the fact that Yara is over 40 percent owned by the Norwegian government, the news service Norwatch revealed in August that Yara had imported a cargo containing 16.800 tonnes of phosphates from Western Sahara. The value of the cargo, transported by a bulk vessel named ‘African Wildcat’, was estimated to be around 4,3 million euros. See coverage of the story on Norwegian national broadcaster, NRK, to the right (in Norwegian).

The cargo was discharged at Yara’s harbour at Herøya, from 30th of July to 6th of August this year. Norwatch even got hold of a photo documenting the vessel at harbour (on top).

“I can confirm that we have imported one phosphate shipment. We are not about to start importing phosphate originating from Western Sahara”, Bente Slaatten, public relations officer at Yara told Norwatch.

Reported to the police

Few days after the revelation was made, the Association of Sahrawis in Norway, together with the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara reported Yara to the police.

“The production and export of the phosphates is done by an illegal occupying power in violation of the wishes and interests of the people of the territory, the Sahrawis”, the two organizations stated in the file handed over to the police on 29 August. “Thus, the phosphate exports must be considered a theft. The customer of the phosphates, Yara, has knowingly purchased the stolen goods, and thereby violated 317 of the Norwegian Penal Code on fencing of stolen property”, the statement said.

The story of the reporting to the police was covered by the private national TV station, TV2 (to the right, in Norwegian).

The Oslo district police has confirmed to the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara that the issue is currently under investigation.

Promised to stop

As late as in 2005, Yara promised in Norwegian media that it would not again import from Western Sahara.

“Under the present circumstances we feel that it is correct to refrain from buying phosphate originating from Western Sahara”, Yara said to Norwegian Business Daily, Dagens Næringsliv, in 2005.

After the the revelation of the August 2008 shipment, Yara has repeated numerous times to Norwegian media that this policy remains unchanged. The import in August was an exception, only related to testing of production facilities in Norway that they are investing millions of euros in, according to Yara.

“We have had a project in which we tested various types of phosphate. In that project we chose to include this type, with an expectation that some time in the future the Western Sahara conflict will be resolved, and that the UN and Norwegian authorities will no longer advice against it. Now that we are investing large sums in the new plant, we must ensure that we get it right”, Slaatten told Norwatch.

This message was actually also conveyed to Norwegian authorities two weeks before “African Wildcat” entered the harbour of El Aaiun, in occupied Western Sahara. The Ministry of Trade and Industry had been updated about Yara’s import already in beginning of July –but failed to prevent Yara from carrying out the trade.

“Yara informed us that it would not start importing phosphate from the mentioned areas as long as the UN and the Norwegian authorities advised against import from Western Sahara”; said Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Øyvind Slåke, to Norwatch.

Not yet apologized

Yara has still not consulted the representatives of the Sahrawi people, nor apologized for their imports, which entails a serious political and economic loss for the Sahrawi people.

Nor has Yara compensated for the loss. The value of the stolen phosphates equals 25% of the entire multilateral aid that is given by the international community to the Sahrawi refugees in Algeria in one entire year. A recent report by Norwegian Church Aid reveals that 19% of children in the refugee camps suffer from malnourishment, making the situation in the camps one of the most acute in the world.


“A particularly serious violation of fundamental ethical norms e.g. because it may strengthen Morocco’s sovereignty claims and thus contribute to undermining the UN peace process”. That is what the US energy company Kerr-McGee’s involvement in Western Sahara was called by the Norwegian Ministry of Finance in 2005.

The breach was considered so serious that the Norwegian government’s pension fund decided to divest from the US oil company.

The three political parties in the Norwegian coalition government all have adopted strong resolutions demanding Norwegian companies to stay away from Western Sahara.

The revelations of Yara’s phosphates import come shortly after three Norwegian shipping companies announced they do not wish to participate in similar trade.

The Bergen-based shipping company R-Bulk was caught red-handed in April, when one of its ships had transported phosphate from the occupied country to Colombia. “We have of course taken this up with the shipping company that leased the ship, so that they will do their utmost to prevent this from happening in the future,” R-Bulk’s chairman of the board told the National Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) in Hordaland.

“We are located in Asia and admit that we knew nothing about Western Sahara. We have only had a single charter. But now that we have become aware of the Western Sahara issue, we won’t take on new contracts for assignments there,” Raymond Ching, vice president of Oslo Stock Exchange-listed Jinhui Shipping, told the leading English-language newspaper South China Morning Post on 11 May 2008. Jinhui withdrew from the assignments after Norwegian insurance compnay Storebrand had taken the case up with the shipping company and after Norwatch had reported the involvement.

In November 2007 the Farsund-based shipping company Arnesen Shipbrokers informed NRK that it would do likewise.
See an overview of
the Yara coverage in Norwegian media here

See Norwatch’s stories here:
- 27th of August 2008:Yara Ignored Norwegian Ethical Standards
- 27th of August 2008:The Government Knew about the Yara Transaction
- 28th of August 2008: -NHD-bjellene skulle ringt (in Norwegian)