Saharawi unemployed graduates have taken their protest to the Casablanca headquarters of OCP, Morocco's state-owned phosphate company that is exploiting occupied Western Sahara's phosphate mine. Eye-witnesses report brutal police intervention and at least one Saharawi being severely injured. WSRW will update this article as news from the ground comes in.
"The Saharawi coordination group asks for its share from the phosphates of Phosboucraa", reads the banner that the demonstrators brought to OCP. The banner also refers to OCP's promise of 5,900 new jobs in Morocco proper and in the occupied parts of Western Sahara.
In the fall of last year, OCP announced it would employ 500 people in Phosboucraa. But the new positions come with high qualification criteria that are not attainable for the majority of Saharawis who due to their socio-economic marginalisation have not had the chance of higher education. As a result, Saharawi protests intensified.
For months, Western Sahara's capital city El Aaiun has been the scene for daily protests by Saharawis of all walks of life. They are fed up with Morocco's policy of marginalising Saharawis while Moroccan settlers get jobs created on the back of Morocco's illegal exploitation of the Saharawi people's occupied homeland.
Grievances are particularly targeted agains the Moroccan state-owned phosphate company OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates), which took over the management of Western Sahara's phosphate plant (Phosboucraa) after Morocco's invasion of the territory in 1975. Saharawis who were working in the mines under Spanish colonial rule, have over time been largely replaced by Moroccans.
The below photos are from the protest that took place inside the OCP premises in Casablanca. The quality of the pics is quite poor - they are the first available footage of the protest. WSRW will update this section as more material reaches us.
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.
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