In 2013, Western Sahara Resource Watch first wrote about a salt exporting business which had emerged in the occupied territories. The salt was to be exported to Europe where the product was to be used for de-icing of winter roads.
The Danish company Dansk Vejsalt has since that time been importing from the production site located in the occupied Western Sahara. It has probably been one of the larger importers of the product.
However, at a meeting with the Danish solidarity organisation Afrika Kontakt on 31 January 2017, the company declared it will carry out no further such imports.
The owner of Dansk Vejsalt, Stig Anthony, said that the company has stopped the imports from Western Sahara “because we don’t want any more trouble in regard to our de-icing salt.”
“This is an important victory for the people of Western Sahara. It means that the occupation of the colony becomes a little less profitable. But it is also a victory for Afrika Kontakt, as we have continuously exerted pressure on Dansk Vejsalt and their customers in Denmark,” says Jens Bruun Madsen from Afrikas Kontakt’s Western Sahara group.
Afrika Kontakt has been in contact with the importing company regarding the trade from Western Sahara since 2013.
Other Danish municipalities choose to uphold similar deals, however, and supermarket chain Aldi continued to sell salt from Dansk Vejsalt in their supermarkets in Denmark.
Director of Dansk Vejsalt, Kim Løth, also informed Afrika Kontakt that the cooperation with Austin-based American company Crystal Mountain Sel Sahara had been terminated, according to Løth because Crystal Mountain Sel Sahara ships their salt from a habour in Western Sahara.
Dansk Vejsalt has previously bought their salt from the Crystal Mountain Sel Sahara, who mines salt from the Oum Dbaa mine just South of the Moroccan-Western Sahara border.
The decision from Dansk Vejsalt comes after the Court of Justice of the European Union gave a verdict on 21 December 2016 that concluded that Western Sahara, is distinct and separate from Morocco, and that two free trade agreements between the EU and Morocco therefore do not apply to Western Sahara.
Trade with products from Western Sahara is also in violation of international law, unless the indigenous people of that territory benefit and agree to the trade, something that the Saharawis of Western Sahara have not.
As the representative in Denmark of Western Sahara’s liberation movement Polisario (who the UN recognise as the legitimate representatives of the Saharawis), Abba Malainin has stated, “the Saharawis have never okayed the salt mining and selling of salt in Western Sahara”.
Western Sahara has been colonised by Morocco for 40 years, since the Spanish left the territory in 1975.
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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