10 December saw around 100 Saharawis injured in demonstrations in Western Sahara, in relation to the International Day of Human Rights, and deep disappointment over the EU vote the same day. The EU decided to pay Morocco to illegally fish in the waters which are not Moroccan.
Following the vote, the Saharawi liberation movement, Frente Polisario has issued strong statement stating the EU deal naturally undermines the UN peace process. Parallel to that, the local natural resource observation group, Saharawi Natural Resource Watch, has issued its own separate statement.
Read the two statements below.
Morocco: EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement Undermines UN Efforts to Find Solution to Western Sahara Conflict (statement) Frente POLISARIO European Representation 10 December 2013
Statement by Mohamed Sidati, Minister, Representative of the Frente POLISARIO to Europe On this Tuesday 10 December, when the world is honoring the Human Rights Day, after a tough debate between supporters of legality and international law, and those who advocate the exploitation and trades of natural resources from Western Sahara without the consent of its people, the European Parliament in plenary session has approved the new Protocol to the EU- Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA).
Thus, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to those MEPs who used their votes to reject this unacceptable agreement.
We must also acknowledge the positions of the governments of Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Finland, all of whom, in line with international law, refused to endorse this fisheries agreement.
It should be reminded that the aforementioned agreement does not exclude the Saharawi territorial waters, despite the fact that Western Sahara is still considered by the United Nations as a Non-Self-Governing Territory pending decolonisation. In accordance with the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 1975 and the legal opinion of the UN Under-Secretary for legal Affairs of 2002, Morocco does not exercise any sovereignty or administration over Western Sahara, and it is simply an occupying power of the Territory. As an occupying power, Morocco thus has no right whatsoever to enter into agreements with third parties concerning the resources of Western Sahara over which only the Sahrawi people have permanent sovereignty. A fortiori, we therefore think that it is unacceptable that the European Union signed a fisheries agreement with Morocco which implicitly includes the Saharawi territorial waters.
On the European side, we must call attention to the policy of a member state of the EU, Spain, towards Western Sahara. The Spanish State, the former colonial Power, has resumed its 1975 policy of betrayal and abandonment of the Western Sahara, and made all possible efforts to reach this illegal agreement. Spain's attitude contributes significantly to increase the suffering of the Saharawi people, thwarts the ongoing efforts of the UN, and fuel tensions and instability in the Maghreb, so close to the EU. In this regards, we would like to remind the following facts:
Charles Tannock's recent report referring to the region of Sahel and Western Sahara was approved on 22nd of October, 2013 by the EP. His report recognize that "Moroccan officials have detained individuals on political grounds, subjected Sahrawi inmates to torture and rape, kidnapped and abandoned protesters in the desert in order to intimidate them, and deliberately and frequently targeted pro-independence advocates, including in their homes".
The aforementioned report adds that it "expresses particular concern that the EU should not re-institute a fisheries agreement with Morocco while this controversy remains unresolved".
Just two years ago, the EP voted against the same new Protocol to the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA).
The agreement is also contrary to the rights and interests of the Sahrawi people and to the relevant principles of international law applicable to Western Sahara as a Non-Self-Governing Territory. It will further destabilise an already volatile situation in the region, thereby undermining the UN efforts to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict. It will also give a sign of legitimisation to the Moroccan occupation of the Territory, thus contributing to prolonging the suffering of the Sahrawi people.
This issue is central to the occupation as whole-whilst Morocco is profiting from its occupation, it will not compromise on Western Sahara.
The approval of this agreement sent the wrong message to Morocco and will signal support for Morocco's illegal claims on the territory.
The Saharawi government and the POLISARIO Front will explore all possible avenues to overturn this iniquitous agreement, and reserve the right to claim compensation for the Saharawi people, who have been robbed of their riches.
And we solemnly call on the European Union to reconsider this agreement, so contrary to its founding principles. The responsibility of the EU is clear: it should not endorse the occupation of our country. Instead, the EU should join forces with the United Nations to complete the process of decolonization in Western Sahara which is subjected to the Moroccan policy of occupation, oppression and repression. The EU must contribute to the end of this state of affairs, which endangers peace and security in the region, and is utterly detrimental to Euro-Maghreb relations."
Saharawi Natural Resource Watch (SNRW) EP votes for the violation of: international law, human rights and ecological system in Western Sahara’s occupied waters 10 December 2013
The European Parliament shamelessly voted in favor of the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement that includes the territorial waters of the occupied zones of Western sahara, the last colony in Africa. The Saharawi Natural Resource Watch (SNRW) consider this an open war and violation against the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination, and a blatant violation of their sovereignty over their natural resources and the safety of the future of their coming generation.
“The European Parliament by this vote is enabling the EU and Morocco to continue plundering and looting the future of the children of Western Sahara,” said Dr. Ghali Zbeir, the coordinator of the SNRW. He estimated that “it is a shame to see that in the end the power of money, illegality and injustice won over the power of human principles, international law and the morals Europe is pretending to stand for”.
This vote is even more appalling because it coincided with the International Day of Human Rights, “knowing that the people of Western Sahara are not only victim of Moroccan violation of their right to decolonization and independence, but also victims to daily oppression, torture, extrajudicial murder, disappearance and a long history of crimes of war and crimes against humanity. However, Europe by this vote, shows its real face, that of theft, illegal exploitation of Africa, support of a force of occupation and denial of a people’s rights and sovereignty”, Ghali further said.
Nonetheless, SNRW would like to highly salute those 204 noble and genuine daughters and sons of Europe in the EP, who voted against this shameful agreement, but also those who adopted a less courageous stand by abstaining from voting, and call on all of them to work harder to save what remains of the honor of Europe, if there is still honor to attribute to this continent after such a vote.
SNRW would also like to recall those 310 MEPs who voted in favor of this agreement, that they represent by this vote the hideous face of Europe, because they voted in favor of the violation of International legality, human rights, and they further contributed to more serious damages to the already damaged ecological system in the Saharawi waters.
Finally, the SNRW calls on all European peoples to adopt all necessary means and steps to speak out against this shameful act of international theft that their representatives passed Today. SNRW also calls on all Saharawi activists and people to clearly express their opposition and condemn this vote in all their actions and positions.
For more contacts: Dr. Ghali Zbeir Coordinator of the SNRW Email: email@example.com
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.