COSATU sent a message to the Saharawi civil society, in exile and in the occupied territoriers of Western Sahara, to inform them of “its decision not to attend both the WSF IC as well as the African Social Forum Council scheduled for Morocco”.
The South African Embrella Trade Union also indicated that it will raise the importance of developing guidelines for the hosting of international council meetings, either at the Liaison Group meeting or International Council, to avoid this being dictated by those with financial muscles”.
It further called “upon all progressive people of the world to respond positively to the call by the Saharawi people for solidarity and to isolate Morocco until it withdraws from all occupied territories for a lasting and just settlement” of the conflict in Western Sahara.
Here is the complete text of the letter sent last March 17 by COSATU to the members of the Liaison Group of the International Council of the WSF:
Members of Liaison Group 17th March, 2009
World Social Forum
Next International Council meeting in Morocco and why COSATU will not participate
COSATU notes your decision to delegate Wilhemina to find out if we shall be participating in the coming IC meeting in Morocco .
It shall be recalled that the IC had previously debated the issue of which country should host the WSF 2007, wherein Morocco was proposed by some and COSATU vehemently opposed it. We thought that the IC appreciated the principled basis of our objection. We are disappointed to realise that this is not the case, as later the same issue was discussed and decided much against that principle.
At the previous IC meeting in Belem, Brazil, COSATU could only attend the meeting on the first 1 and half days, thus missing the session during which the issue of the venue for the next IC was decided. Once again, COSATU wish to register that, it would still have vehemently objected to Morocco being chosen as the venue for such an important platform of the global progressive movement, given its policies and occupation of Western Sahara .
We wish to hereby reiterate our stand on this matter. We are opposed to occupation, apartheid and injustice against anyone, anywhere in the world, hence our principled objection in this case. We, the workers and people of South Africa, have ourselves, emerged from years of apartheid and occupation by a viciously racist regime. In this case, we understand very well the pains and suffering of all who are victims of such practices. This is exactly what informs our principled and consistently vocal stand against Israeli occupation of Palestine and our unwavering solidarity with the suffering people of Palestine. We assume this is the very reason why almost all members of the IC are in full solidarity with the people of Palestine too, including social movements from Israel too.
Consistent with this position and principle, COSATU is failing to understand why it cannot apply to the occupied people of Western Sahara, who also deserve justice and solidarity like all of us and from all of us.
Why should we allow an event of such magnitude and standing in the global family of compatriots to be hosted by a country that brutally occupies another, subjecting the peoples of Western Sahara to the most extreme forms of subjugation and dehumanisation, in the same way that apartheid South Africa was doing. To illustrate this further, Morocco, is not even a member of the African union, because the AU recognises the sovereignty of Western Sahara as a country, while Morocco does not.
It would be a shame for anyone claiming to be progressive to associate in any way with such a regime, worst still, to organise an event of such magnitude and posture in such a country, undermining the solidarity appeals of the suffering people in the occupied territory.
COSATU National Office Bearers discussed the coming IC meeting in full recognition of its importance, guided by the federation’s principle of solidarity and consistency in adhering to its resolutions and policies, where they decided that it would be morally wrong, politically opportunistic and an act of daylight betrayal to the cause of justice and solidarity with our comrades, the suffering people of Western Sahara, to participate in an event that might be used to legitimise Morocco.
We call upon all progressive people of the world to respond positively to the call by the Saharawi people for solidarity and to isolate Morocco until Morocco withdraws from all occupied territories for a lasting and just settlement.
COSATU has written to social movements of Western Sahara including those in exile and underground informing them of its decision not to attend both the WSF IC as well as the African Social Forum Council scheduled for Morocco. COSATU will at first opportunity either at the Liaison Group meeting or International Council raise the importance of developing guidelines for the hosting of international council meetings to avoid this being dictated by those with financial muscles.
In solidarity with the people of Palestine and Western Sahara .
COSATU Deputy General Secretary
Bongani Masuku (International Relations Secretary)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets
Tel: +27 11 339-4911/24
Fax: +27 11 339-5080/6940
Mobile: +27 79 499 6419