Saharawi women protest plunder on International Women's Day
In celebration of International Women's Day, yesterday 8 March 2014, the women of the Saharawi refugee camps held a protest against foreign companies that are complicit in Morocco's plunder of their occupied homeland: Western Sahara.
In Boujdour camp, one of the Saharawi refugee camps in the south-western Algerian desert, women yesterday gathered to demand an end to the illegal exploitation of their homeland, urging the involved foreign companies to leave the territory.
Large parts of Western Sahara, home to the Saharawi people, have been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. About half of the people fled the territory during Morocco's invasion, and have lived in refugee camps in neighbouring Algeria ever since. The UN considers Western Sahara as the last colony of Africa. The Saharawi people's right to self-determination - the right to determine the future status of the territory and its resources - has been recognised by the International Court of Justice and backed up by the organised international community through countless UN Resolutions.
But while refusing to allow the UN to organise a Referendum in which the Saharawi people can choose their own future, Morocco has proceeded to sell off Western Sahara's natural resources as its own. A UN Legal Opinion of 2002 stated that any economic activity in Western Sahara is unlawful if not in accordance to the wishes and the interests of the Saharawis.
The Saharawi people have time and again spoken out against the pillage of Morocco and complicit partners. They don't want their resources taken before they've had the chance to exercise their right to self-determination. Nor do they benefit from the economic activities, as accruing revenues go directly to Morocco and the created jobs mainly serve to attract Moroccan settlers into the territory. Nevertheless, the plunder continues.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the three different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.