Biggest Saharawi groups from occupied territory tell Kosmos to leave
In a letter sent to Kosmos Energy today, the biggest Saharawi organisations from the occupied territory of Western Sahara forcefully condemn the company's plans to drill for oil in their country. Read their letter here.
To the attention of Mr Andrew G. Inglis CEO of Kosmosg Energy Ltd C/O Kosmos Energy LLC 8176 Park Lane Suite 500 Dallas, Texas 75231
Open letter to Kosmos Energy Ltd by the Saharawi civil society groups from occupied Western Sahara
Dear Mr Inglis,
We, the undersigned, are Saharawi organisations from the occupied territory of Western Sahara. We wish to make our position known on Kosmos Energy’s presence and activities in our country that is currently under Moroccan occupation. We urge Kosmos and your partner Cairn Energy to withdraw your plans to drill for oil in our territorial waters.
Since Kosmos or Cairn do not seek our opinion on its plans in our homeland, but rather chose to take the word of the Moroccan occupying regime and consult only with groups and individuals appointed by that government, we see no other alternative than to send you this letter. None of the undersigned have ever been approached, directly or indirectly, by Kosmos, Cairn or the Moroccan government to ask whether the oil exploration is in line with our people’s wishes. We represent basically all groups that support the Saharawi right to self-determination inside the territory under Moroccan control.
We are the people of Western Sahara. Since 1975, we suffer the consequences of Morocco’s invasion and occupation of a big part of our country. Part of our people had to flee during the war. They still live in refugee camps in the Algerian desert, surviving on declining humanitarian aid and suffering malnutrition and poor living conditions. Those that stayed behind are now forced to face oppression and gross human rights violations. We, the Saharawi people living in the territory where you seek to exploit oil, are not allowed to organise, we are not allowed to express our culture, we are not allowed to vocalise our political views – it will only result in inhumane treatment; kidnapping, beatings, rape, torture, arbitrary detention, unfair trials resulting in unfounded prison sentences, etc.
Some of us have protested against the activities of your company, and of companies like yours. Instead of being heard, we were beaten, arrested and put in jail. Some of our colleagues are serving a lifetime sentence for speaking out against the illegal exploitation of our land and waters by companies like yours in collaboration with the regime that oppresses us.
Precisely by siding with the Moroccan government, driven by your own economic interests, you are destroying our future. We have a right to self-determination, as stated by the International Court of Justice, repeated over and over by the United Nations and recognised by the entire international community. We have the right to choose the political future of our country. It is our decision – not yours, not the Moroccan government’s. Only after we have made our decision known, will it be clear to you with whom you should do business. Not before.
We do not want Kosmos Energy or Cairn Energy or any other company to drill for oil in our country before we have had the chance to exercise our right to self-determination. We ask for your support for that right. You have a unique chance to create peace; by refraining from drilling until the voice of the Saharawi people has been heard. But if you decide to go ahead, without respect for our rights, you will only aggravate an already horrific situation. We, who have suffered the Moroccan repression for decades, are afraid that the future human rights situation will be even more intense should you find oil.
We do not care for the social projects you promise; the schools or the English courses. We want to live in a country that is ruled by a government of our choice, with respect for our human rights and culture.
Your activities are only to the benefit of the people that are undermining our rights; the king of Morocco, the Moroccan government in Rabat and the Moroccan settlers in our homeland. Not to our benefit – rather to the contrary; they take away all that is dear to us: our rights, our future, our voice. For the sake of peace, for the sake of our children, we ask you: do not drill for oil in occupied Western Sahara, until our right to self-determination has been put into practice. The future of our people depends on it.
Aminatou Haidar, President of the Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) Brahim Dahane, President of the Saharawi Association of Victims of Serious Human Rights Abuses committed by the Moroccan State (ASVDH) El Mami Amar Salem, President of the Committee against Torture in Western Sahara Hamad Hammad, Vice-President of the Committee for the Defence of the Right to Self-Determination for the People of Western Sahara (CODAPSO) Sultana Khaya, President of the Saharawi Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Natural Resources Sidi Ahmed Eddia, Secretary-General of the Confederation of Saharawi Workers (CSTS) Lahcen Dahlil, Vice-President of the Committee for the Protection of the Natural Resources of Western Sahara (CSPRON) Lahbib Salhi, President of the Gdeim Izik Coordination Fakou Lebeihi, President of the Saharawi Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Smara
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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