Portuguese public figures demand halt of EU fisheries
28 high profile personalities in Portuguese society ask its own government to prevent a renewed EU fisheries agreement in the occupied Western Sahara, and to defend international law, as it did with the case of decolonisation of East Timor.
Photo: A Moroccan fisherman balancing on a small fishing vessel in El Aaiun harbour (Maria Fonfara).
"Given the Moroccan refusal to answer the questions raised by the European Commission over who enjoys the benefits that are produced in the territory, the Sahrawi have given their testimony", state 28 well-known Portuguese persons in a letter, referring to the 20.000 man strong Sahrawi protest camp in Western Sahara this autumn.
"In this context, and in accordance with international law, as demonstrated and recognized by the legal services of the European Parliament, you can not renew the fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco, which is currently under renegotiation. We ask the Portuguese government to clarify its position soon, based on the principles of international law", the group states.
The letter draws the parallel to Portugal's active involvement in decolonising its formerly occupied colony East Timor
"We can not allow our foreign policy has two weights and two measures. Portugal played a key role in the liberation of the Timorese people and called for other states to do the same, compliance with international law. Let's be consistent. We support all international efforts conducive to the holding of referendum. This is the policy we want to see implemented by the Portuguese Government."
"We know, particularly through the experience of East Timor, that the rights of the Sahrawi people can only be fully realized when you hear their voice, through free and fair, internationally supervised and conducted act of self-determination", stated the group.
Among the signatories are writer José Augusto França, architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, historian José Matoso, lawyer Miguel Galvão Teles, researcher Maria Helena Mira Mateus, jurist Teresa Féria, lieutenant-coronel Vasco Lourenço and trade unionists João Proença, Manuel Carvalho da Silva and Mário Nogueira.
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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