quinta-feira, 4 de dezembro de 2008

Conference on Western Sahara

South Africa to host the Conference on Multilateralism and International Law with Western Sahara as a Case Study, 4th to 5th of December 2008. One of the sessions will be on the role of natural resources in Western Sahara.


Pretoria – South Africa will host the Conference on Multilateralism and International Law with Western Sahara as a Case Study on Thursday – Friday 4-5 December 2008 at the Sanlam Auditorium at the conference centre of the University of Pretoria.

Participants at the conference will include amongst others the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sue van der Merwe; Mr M’hamed Khadad, Polisario Coordinator with the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), Prof Abdelhamid El Ouali, Professor of Law at the University of Casablanca, Morocco as well as other imminent scholars and United Nations experts.

Members of the media who wish to cover the event are requested to submit the following information no later than Wednesday 3 December 2008 at 16:00.

* Name and Surname
* South African ID/ Passport number
* Name of organisation
* Contact number

The information should be sent to ngculut@foreign.gov.za or masangod@foreign.gov.za

Members of the media will also be required to produce their South African ID/ Passports and press cards at the venue.

A media statement and detailed programme will be issued shortly.

For further information please contact Thembela Ngculu on 082 387 5611 and David Masango on 084 502 2830

Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
1 December 2008

WSRW demands PCS to terminate its unethical trade

WSRW section Louisiana in October sent a letter to the US-Canadian fertiliser producer, PCS, demanding that they terminate its imports from Western Sahara. Two months later, WSRW still awaits a reply.

The below letter was sent from WSRW section Louisiana to the fertiliser producer PCS on October 1st 2008, shortly after the company received a shipment of phosphate rock from Western Sahara. Now, two months and one more shipment later, WSRW has still not received an answer.

Mr. William J. Doyle
President and Chief Executive Officer
PotashCorp (PCS)
c/o Corporate Secretary
Suite 500, 122 - 1st Avenue South
Saskatoon, SK Canada
S7K 7G3

October 1st, 2008

Regarding PCS phosphate shipment from occupied Western Sahara

Dear Mr. Doyle, President and CEO of PotashCorp,

We are writing to you today about PotashCorp’s shipments of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara to Louisiana. We are aware that PCS has imported phosphates from Western Sahara for processing in Geismar, LA for decades. As recently as September 12th, 2008, PCS received the vessel ‘Voge West’, fully loaded with phosphate from Western Sahara.

We would like to inform you that trade with and transportation of mineral resources from occupied Western Sahara is politically controversial, highly unethical and potentially against international law.

Most of Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco since 1975. However, to this day, no state or international organization recognizes Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. The United States and Canada, among others, have been very clear that they do not recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. The United Nations have repeatedly said that this illegal occupation must end and that the Sahrawi population has to be allowed to freely exercise their right to self-determination through a free, fair and transparent referendum.

The occupation of Western Sahara has resulted in enormous suffering and deprivation for the Sahrawi people, the rightful owners of the land and the natural resources of Western Sahara.
Approximately 165,000 Sahrawis are languishing in refugee camps in the inhospitable Algerian desert since 1975. The Sahrawi population remaining in areas under Moroccan occupation is subjected to grave human rights violations, such as torture, forced disappearances and arbitrary detention.

Robert Zoellick, then the United States Trade Representative, stated in 2004 in reference to the Free Trade Agreement between the USA and Morocco that “The United States … do not recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara” and added that “the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) covers trade and investment in the territory of Morocco as recognized internationally, and does not include Western Sahara.”

The reason for this unequivocal US position is that Morocco has not right to extract and sell Western Sahara’s resources, as long as the political status of the territory has not been resolved.

By importing phosphates from Western Sahara, PCS thus supports the continuation of the illegal occupation and contributes to undermining the UN peace process. Money from phosphate extraction and trade goes directly to the Moroccan state-owned company located in Western Sahara. This kind of support makes Morocco less inclined to contribute to finding a solution to the occupation, and makes delaying tactics and attempting to profit from the existing situation more attractive. The phosphate trade in Western Sahara therefore increases the risk of further armed conflict, destabilization and suffering in the region.

Morocco’s control and exploitation of Western Sahara also hurts the Sahrawis’ labor rights and their economic development. According to a report by the French organization France Libertés - Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, the Sahrawis have been systematically marginalized from the phosphate industry in Western Sahara. In 1968, before Morocco took control over the phosphate mines, all 1600 workers in the industry were Sahrawis. Today, 1800 of 2000 workers are Moroccan settlers who have illegally been moved into the territory.

Businesses around the world have realized their ethical obligations and have stopped importing natural resources from occupied Western Sahara. For example, Yara, the world's biggest fertilizer company, terminated the imports to Norway in 2005, for ethical reasons

In addition to ethical concerns, the companies involved in this trade should be aware that the trade is most probably in violation of international law.

The International Court of Justice in its 1975 Western Sahara Advisory Opinion established that Morocco has no legal claim to Western Sahara. That same opinion affirmed that the Sahrawi population has a right to self-determination, which includes, inter alia, the right of permanent sovereignty over its natural resources. Permanent sovereignty over natural resources is a customary principle of international law. Numerous resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly and a legal opinion by the former UN Under-Secretary General of Legal Affairs, Mr. Hans Corell on 29 January 2002 affirm this position. Because the Sahrawis have not been able to exercise their right to self-determination, and because they have not been properly consulted, trade with Morocco of natural resources emanating from Western Sahara is a violation of the Sahrawis’ right to permanent sovereignty over their resources.

It appears that your company has not consulted either with Sahrawis or their internationally recognized representatives, the Polisario Front.

We hereby appeal to PCS to do the same as Yara, R-Bulk, Jinhui and other companies: We urge you to demonstrate your attachment to international legality, human rights and basic standards of corporate social responsibility by reconsidering your involvement in shipping phosphate of Western Sahara origin.

We urge PotashCorp to issue a statement that your company intends to no longer import phosphates from occupied Western Sahara.

We will be more than happy to provide you with any additional information that you may require to study this matter more closely.

Any reply could be sent to the Louisiana section of Western Sahara Resource Watch,
Ms Christina Kiel, at christina.kiel@gmail.com.


Christina Kiel
Western Sahara Resource Watch, Section Louisiana

Western Sahara Research Watch is an international non-governmental coalition of organizations and individuals working for the protection of natural resources in WS.

Mr. Thomas J. Regan, Jr.
PCS Phosphate and PCS Nitrogen

Mr. Hanson Leonard
General Manager
PCS Geismar
PO Box 307
Geismar, Louisiana 70734

Mr. Udo Wiese,
Managing Director
H. Vogemann GmbH
Hallerstrasse 40
20146 Hamburg

Mr. Martin Egvang
Armada Group

Frozen fish heading east

Two so-called reefers, or refrigerated ships, have recently visited El Aaiun harbour in occupied Western Sahara, for transport of frozen fish to Russia and China.

The two vessels, Sunny Maria and Young Duck, transports frozen fish from occupied Western Sahara to markets in Russia and China.

Sunny Maria (IMO number 7734545)
The Belize flagged vessel is operated by Shipdeal Corp, and registered owner is Baltor & Co. S.A.
Stopped over in El Aaiun between 17th and 21st of November this year. The vessel is known for carrying out fish transports, and from what WSRW knows, the vessel is now heading towards China.

Young Duck (IMO number 7916296)
Stopped over in El Aaiun from the 14th to the 24th of November. Young Duck is owned and operated by the Korean firm Youngduck Shipping Co. Ltd, and seems to be heading towards Russia.

A third vessel, not a reefer, the cargo ship Rhino (IMO 7616860), on 30th of October this year passed through the Kiel canal, on its way from El Aaiun to Kaliningrad. It is still unclear, however, what kind of cargo the vessel picked up in occupied Western Sahara on its way to Kaliningrad. The vessel used to be sailing for the Norwegian shipping company Boa, but is not any longer. In what possibly can be a related shipment, Rhino was on 7th of September 2008 spotted in Rijeka, Croatia, a phosphate importing harbour.

Statements from New Zealand government over Western Sahara trade

Shortly before the Government of New Zealand changed, the former Minister of Trade, Hon Phil Goff, wrote two letters regarding the natural resource exploitation. Read them here.

In one letter from Mr. Goff to Patricia Kane, 7 July 2008, the Minister states that he had discussed the benefit for the Sahrawi people of such trade, together with the Moroccan government.

"I was told by Morocco that the local community is benefiting through the provision of money, jobs, infrastructure and services. Clearly, however, such benefits are not applied to support for the excercise of the right to self-determination, including independence: Morocco continues to claim sovereignty over the Western Sahara.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Morocco's approach, the responsibility is Morocco's. New Zealand companies breach no laws in importing phosphate extracted from Western Sahara, or marketing fish caught off its coast".

Read the entire letter here: page 1, page 2.

In another letter, from Hon Phil Goff to the New Zealand Western Sahara Association, the Minister repeats the arguments that Morocco's activities in Western Sahara are Morocco's responsibilities, and not of New Zealand.

"Extraction of the phosphates by Morocco does, however, give rise to considerations of the international legal principles involved in the administration of non-self-governing territories. These are issues for Morocco to consider".

Read the entire letter from Goff to the New Zealand Western Sahara Association, 8 September 2008 here, which is a response from a letter sent by the New Zealand Western Sahara Association on 27th of January this year.

The new government in New Zealand, headed by the center-right National Party, took office end of November 2008. No statements on New Zealand's important role in the natural resource exploitation of Western Sahara have so far been issued by the new government.

Two more vessels arriving New Zealand this week

Two vessels are arriving New Zealand with phosphates from occupied Western Sahara this week.

2 vessels are now entering New Zealand waters with phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara, a trade which is violation of international law.

White Diamond (IMO number 9330666)
Arrives port of Tauranga on tbhe 2nd of December, departing on 5th, towards Timaru, where she will arrive on the 6th, before continuing towards her final destination, Bluff, on the 7th. White Diamond is managed by the Israeli 'Ofer Ships Holdings', in Haifa.

Triton Stork (IMO number 9328675)
Will arrive port of Lyttleton on 3rd of December, continuing towards Napier on the 4th.

The Panama flagged Triton Stork is arriving Lyttleton for the second time this year with phosphates from Western Sahara. She arrived on 31st of January 2008 to the same harbour, with the same cargo. She did also a shipment of such phosphates to Fremantle, Perth, Australia, arriving approximately 21st of August 2005. The vessel is supposedly owned by Triton Nav BV (Netherlands).

Swiss giant vessel with unethical cargo

The Swiss flagged and managed vessel Celerina in November carried out a highly unethical phosphates transport from occupied Western Sahara to Louisiana, USA.

The bulk vessel Celerina arrived New Orleans mid-November, with a cargo of phosphates from occupied Western Sahara.

The vessel is one of the biggest which has carried out such unethical trade in a long time. 225 meters long, and with gross deadweight of 73.035 tonnes, the big vessel can possibly have carried around 70.000 tonnes of phosphate rock.

With a current phosphate rock price around 414 dollars a tonne, such a cargo would be worth 29 million USD. This sum has been given to the Moroccan state for phosphates illegally exploited on the occupied land.

Morocco took control over the phosphate mines after occupying Western Sahara in 1975, few days after their claim to the land was rejected by the International Court of Justice. The majority of the Sahrawi people fled their homeland and settled in refugee camps in Algeria. There, they are still living, suffering from lack of humanitarian aid.

The sum which the Swiss giant vessel has transported to Lousiana equals that which was given to the Sahrawi refugees through multinational donors through the entire 2007.

The Moroccan phosphate industry in Western Sahara is today the most important source of income in the land, and remains a main reason for the continued illegal occupation.

The customer of the phosphates was the Louisiana based fertiliser producer PCS.

The vessel, with IMO 9176759, is managed by the company Suisse Atlantique, in Renens, Switzerland.

McDonald’s, Wikipedia targeted by Morocco

In its efforts to win the propaganda war against Western Sahara’s exiled government, Moroccan authorities and groups it employs abroad are targeting international companies such as McDonald’s and Wikipedia.

Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony occupied by Morocco since 1975, despite numerous UN Security Council resolutions calling for a referendum over independence, is regarded as an "integrated part" of Morocco’s territory by the Rabat government. No other state, however, has recognised this annexation and the freedom movement Polisario has formed an exiled government that is a full member of the African Union (AU).

The Moroccan subsidiary of the US hamburger chain McDonald’s this week fell victim of Rabat’s wreath for going by international, not Moroccan, standards. Its internationally marketed "Happy Meal" includes children’s toys, out of which some include a small map. International maps, as the "Happy Meal" maps, always include a border between Morocco and Western Sahara. Moroccan maps do not.

As Moroccan authorities were made aware of the children tools with maps according to the international standard being distributed at McDonald’s in Morocco, the US company was immediately addressed. The "wiping off" of Western Sahara from Moroccan territory was presented as a scandal by the powerful news agency ‘MAP’, which is controlled by the Royal House.

Today, the Moroccan subsidiary of McDonald’s had to announce its retreat. "The toys included a small map on which the borders were incorrectly drawn. We profoundly regret making this mistake and we apologise to our loyal customers and our fellow citizens," said McDonald’s Morocco in a statement released today. According to ‘MAP’, McDonald’s Morocco would withdraw the "offending toys" from the Moroccan market.

In Morocco, there usually is a full control on every public statement relative to the government’s claim on Western Sahara. Even independent media are obliged by law to report according to the government line on Western Sahara. Newspapers that have written only slightly out of line with these norms are immediately shut down.

But also abroad, Moroccan authorities are trying to gain further ground by investing large sums in media advisors, lawyers, lobbyists and "independent" pressure groups. In particular in the United States, this propaganda drive has started to bear fruits. Here, pro-Saharawi groups are poorly organised, coordinated and funded, giving much room for groups on the Moroccan Foreign Ministry’s payroll.

One of these groups, the US "Morocco Board", today started a new propaganda drive targeting the global encyclopaedia Wikipedia, written collaboratively by volunteers from all around the world. According to the Morocco Board, Wikipedia articles about the Kingdom "are sadly not always accurate as fanatic pro-Polisario activists abuse of the free global encyclopaedia to push anti-Morocco propaganda."

The pressure group with royal funding thus is urging Moroccan all over the world to "participate actively to stop this." It asks Moroccans to enter Wikipedia articles about the Kingdom and the Western Sahara conflict and to edit them, giving instructions about how this is made and how they can avoid being banned by Wikipedia editing rules.

In other developments, the Moroccan propaganda war in Denmark is continuing. State-controlled media had announced that the Polisario representation in Copenhagen had been expelled by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After afrol News revealed this was not a fact, even more Moroccan media reported about this.

Even ‘TelQuel’, Morocco’s most outspoken independent media, this week fell into the government’s propaganda trap, quoting "well informed sources" that had confirmed that "Danish authorities have closed a non-recognised underground office" of Polisario in the capital.

Polisario’s representative in Denmark, Abba Malainin, on phone from Copenhagen, earlier had denied this to afrol News. Yesterday, Danish Foreign Ministry official Klavs A Holm confirmed Mr Malainin’s statement: "This is just not right," he said. Mr Holm further emphasised that the Ministry was not engaging in which foreign organisations establish information offices in Denmark "as long as one speaks of legal activities." Polisario’s activities were not considered illegal.

The Moroccan propaganda initiative regarding Polisario’s office in Denmark has been seen as an effort to cover up a sex scandal at the Moroccan Embassy in the Nordic country, which was largely reported in the Danish press. Moroccan media have so far avoided reporting on this sex scandal, rather concentrating on the fabricated news about Polisario being "thrown out".

Arrestation de 3 citoyens sahraouis et enlèvement de deux autres à la ville de Dakhla occupée

Dakhla (territoires sahraouis occupés), Les citoyens Ali Aghraichi et Mohamed ould Sidi Mohamed Baba ont été enlevés par les forces de répression marocaines, alors que trois autres étudiants ont été arrêtés au cours d’un sit-in pacifique, appelant à l’autodétermination du peuple du Sahara occidental.

Il s’agit de Mohamed Mbeirik Bakar, Lehbib Ebnou Elmeki et Elmoukhtar Ivekou Boucheiba arrêtés et torturés sauvagement pour plus de 6 heures dans les locaux de la police marocaine avant d’être libérés dans une situation déplorable, a précisé une source judiciaire sur place.

Les trois étudiants ont été ont été accusé de "formation d’un groupe criminel" et interrogés de la part le tortionnaire marocain, Hreiz El Arbi, notamment sur leurs relations avec les activistes sahraouis des droits humains, a ajouté la même source.

Le sit-in organisé par les diplômés sahraouis contraints au chômage en raison de la politique marocaine de marginalisation à l’encontre des Sahraouis, qui ont scandé des slogans appelant au retrait de l’occupant marocain du Sahara occidental et au droit à l’autodétermination du peuple sahraoui.


Saharawi students all over the Universities in Morocco as well as at the schools in Western Sahara have been staging peaceful Demonstrations since the 1st of December 2008, in solidarity with the Saharawi students in Ibn Zohr University of Agadir and protesting against the brutal killing of the two Saharawi students Baba Khayya
(22y. 3rd y Economy) and Laktif Elhousin (21y.1st y Sociology) and the third student Belkadi Mbarek (1st y Law) who is still in a comma in a very delicate health situation at the hospital of Hassan the 2nd in Agadir, Morocco.

Ibn Zohr University of Agadir:

Saharawi students are on a hunger strike for 48h, they closed the gate of the faculty of Letters and Human Sciences and the faculty of Law and Economics, boycott the exams.
Demonstrations are occurring every day in front of the faculties and at the University Campus.

Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech:

Saharawi students since the 1st/Dec/08 are demonstrating at the faculties, boycotting the exams and going on marches between the faculties towards the University Campus.
On the 2nd of December, the Moroccan brutal forces nearly broke into the Campus.

Hassan the 2nd University of Casa Blanca:

Saharawi students are going through a series of demonstrations in solidarity.

Med V University of Rabat:

Saharawi students are making demonstrations.

Western Sahara: (El Aaiun)

Lemsalla High school:

Saharawi students boycott the studies and exams in addition to the Demonstrations.

Hassan the 2nd High school:

Saharawi students have been demonstrating.
On the 3rd of December at 01:00 the brutal Moroccan forces stormed the High school causing many victims, some students were sent to the hospital and some were detained.
We are still waiting for more information.

We, the Saharawi students are prevented from our rights such as right of Expression, Education, Transport, Master studies…

Every year we encounter serious troubles of registration at the Universities, problems of transfer…etc In addition to the brutal attacks by the Moroccan authorities in respond to our peaceful demonstrations calling for our right to Self-Determination.

A photo presentation of the situation of Saharawi students in two years time
(2007. 2008) as an example.

We appeal to you the conscience of the world to support us in our peaceful struggle to Self-Determination and Justice.

We want you to be aware about our situation now, we are continuing our struggle to achieve Justice and that the responsible of the killing of the Saharawi students be prosecuted in International courts.

We demand an International Protection, considering the brutal attacks by the Moroccan authorities and the serious consequences on students.

We demand a serious pressure on Morocco to stop those flagrant violations of Human Rights in Western Sahara and Universities.
And that respect our rights as Saharawis, to Self-Determination
and our right as students to express our opinions.

We need a presence of foreign journalists Human Rights activists and international observers to follow our case and to support us in our struggle.

Saharawi students
Ibn Zohr University of Agadir