“OCP Maroc” tried to block a Saharawi student’s youtube videos questioning the legality of Morocco’s exploitation of occupied Western Sahara’s phosphate mine. And to date, the firm has refused to answer her many emails asking them why they tried to do that.
"Further to the emails I sent you on 19 October 2013, 15 November 2013, 15 July 2014, 10 September 2014, 16 October 2014 and 10 February 2015, I am writing once again to follow up on some very important questions", Senia Abderahman wrote to the Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP) – Morocco’s state-owned phosphate company that exploits the Bou Craa phosphate mine in occupied Western Sahara.
In her seventh identical mail to the company, Abderahman wants to know if and why an entity called “OCP Maroc” tried to have her videos entitled “Senia vs. Phosphate plunder lawyers” - included below - removed from youtube.
But OCP does not reply.
Senia Abderahman was born and raised in the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria. In 2009, while on a scholarship in the United States, she paid a visit to US law firm Covington & Burling, responsible for a legal opinion that states that the trade in phosphates from Senia’s occupied homeland, Western Sahara, is permissible under international law because the Saharawis would purportedly benefit from such activities. Covington & Burling had been commissioned to formulate said opinion by OCP and has actively lobbied investors on OCP's behalf.
Abderahman did not agree with Covington & Burling’s conclusions. She wanted to know how the firm had come to conclude that her people would profit from Morocco’s exploitation of their phosphate mine, as all evidence available to her suggested the opposite. Since OCP had circulated the Covington & Burling opinion among its clients internationally, she saw little reason why the document should not be shared with the Saharawi people as well.
Abderahman had made videos of her attempts to meet with Covington & Burling, and had uploaded them on youtube. Then, in 2013 an entity called “OCP Maroc” tried to block her videos from youtube.
Abderahman has two questions for OCP: 1. To see copies of the written for OCP by DLA Piper, KPMG and of Covington & Burling regarding the phosphate trade and that OCP’s clients internationally refer to in their defending of the purchases 2. Whether it is true that OCP Maroc was behind the tentative blocking of her videos, and if yes, for what reason.
Abderahman has sent emails to OCP on 4 March 2015, 10 February 2015, 16 October 2014, 10 September 2014, 15 July 2014, 15 November 2013 and 19 October 2013. She's not received a single reply. Her email of today is included below her videos. The mails were sent separately to Mohamed Amine Maaouni, with the formal title "Chargé de Mission auprčs du President Directeur General", and Mohamed Belhoussain, OCP Marketing Director.
Dear Mr. Maaouni,
Further to the emails I sent you on 19 October 2013, 15 November 2013, 15 July 2014, 10 September 2014, 16 October 2014 and 10 February 2015, I am writing once again to follow up on some very important questions. It would be greatly appreciated if you take the time to provide me with some comments and answers.
As you might have seen, I made in 2009 two videos regarding the problematic opinions and evaluations done by the US law firm Covington & Burling of your operations in Bou Craa, Western Sahara. The documents from Covington & Burling, commissioned by your company, has been circulating among your clients internationally in order to defend the phosphate trade. It is therefore important that the Saharawi people has access to these documents.
As I state in the videos that I got posted on Youtube, I am of the opinion that the conclusions of Covington & Burling cannot be correct. I am interested in obtaining copies of the assessments, and my videos explained the efforts I went through to get copies of those documents.
I have two questions to OCP: 1) Will you be kind to send me copies of the reports written for you by DLA Piper, KPMG and of Covington & Burling regarding the phosphate trade and that your clients internationally refer to in their defending of the purchases?
2) Last year, an entity named 'OCP Maroc' tried to block the two videos from Youtube entitled 'Senia vs. Phosphate plunder lawyers' in which I express my concerns about the secrecy of these documents. Is it true that OCP Maroc is behind the tentative blocking of those two videos? If yes, what is the reason your company has intended to block these videos?
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.