quinta-feira, 5 de março de 2009

Heavy criticism in Norway against Fugro-Geoteam

Former chairman of the Nobel Committee, and yesterday’s laureate of Student Peace Prize 2009 criticise the Norwegian-Dutch involvement in oil search in occupied Western Sahara.

The Sahrawi student Rabab Amidane received in Norway the Student Peace Prize 2009. Amidane was selected among 291 nominees from around the world, to receive the prestigious award.

The prize was given to her at a ceremony at the Olavshallen Concert Hall in Trondheim last night. 1200 people attended the two hour ceremony. The ceremony was opened by Trondheim symphony orchestra, which was followed by leading Norwegian artists.

Amidane was awarded for her work to document and spread information about human rights violations in occupied Western Sahara, particularly against Sahrawi students.

Fugro-Geoteam can “completely destroy our hopes for a free homeland in he future”, she said at the acceptance speech. From Rabab Amidane's acceptance speech:
“Western Sahara is a country rich in natural resources. We have a lot of phosphates, fish and possibly oil. The United Nations has stated that no natural resource activity can take place in Western Sahara if the Sahrawis are against it.

In spite of this, international companies work in Western Sahara together with the Moroccan authorities. The industries give income for the Moroccan regime, it provides jobs for Moroccan settlers, and it gives a sign of political legitimacy of the illegal occupation. None of these riches benefit the Sahrawi people. Only Morocco benefits from this. Sadly, companies from Norway have played an important role in this plundering.

The most serious Norwegian involvement is now in the oil industry. If Morocco finds oil in our land, I think that my people’s right to self-determination will be very difficult for us to achieve. But still, a company from Norway, called Fugro-Geoteam, is right now, at this very moment, looking for oil offshore our land. This can completely destroy our hopes for a free homeland in the future.

The Norwegian company Yara, which is sponsor of this festival, last year paid the Moroccan state 40 million kroners for phosphates that are stolen from us. Yara insists their imports have been legal, despite the fact that the UN say it is not. Yara have still not apologised for the trade and not compensated the Sahrawis.

It would of course be impossible to see Fugro-Geoteam or Yara cooperate with Israel on occupied Palestinian land. So one can wonder why they keep doing it in Western Sahara.”

The Northern Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Betty Williams was a key speaker at the ceremony, talking about peace work, and pointing to the human rights violations in Western Sahara. Rabab also met with Nobel laureates Desmond Tutu and Shirin Ebadi.

One of the members of the board that selected Amidane for the prize is Mr. Ole Danbolt Mjøs, who from 2003 until 1 January 2009 was the chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. In an op-ed in leading Norwegian daily newspaper Dagbladet, Mr. Danbolt, together with Student Peace Prize president, Mr. Thor Richard Isaksen, the same day strongly critisised Fugro-Geoteam.

“Norwegian authorities have, together with most other Western countries, remained silent”, the former Nobel chairman wrote about the occupation of Western Sahara.

“This makes it possible for Norwegian businesses to drain occupied Western Sahara of resources through agreements with Moroccan authorities. One example is the seismic company Fugro-Geoteam, which, according to Norwatch, as late as January this year was involved in oil exploration off the coast of Western Sahara, on assignment from Moroccan authorities. Despite the fact that this is in conflict with advice from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the reactions against such activity are all too weak.”.

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