Any further oil exploration in Western Sahara is illegal unless the Saharawis want it themselves, according to the UN. The companies involved do not care.
The demonstration on this video is said to have been taking place last week, and was published on Youtube on 12 March 2015.
According to the UN Legal Opinion on oil exploration in Western Sahara any further operation will be illegal if it fails to respect the Saharawi people's wishes.
Kosmos Energy, Total, Glencore and San Leon Energy - the operators of the oil licences in Western Sahara - fail to make any reference to that. The same applies to the importers of phosphates, such as fertilizer companies in Canada, Lithuania and New Zealand.
The companies' operations infuriate the Saharawis, both in the occupied territory and in the refugee camps in Algeria. "No to the plunder of our resources", is stated on the leaflets held by the women on the video, shortly before uniformed and plainclothed police officers and security forces members are seen attacking them with batons.
Demonstrations, organisations and parties through which wishes on the Moroccan plunder could have been freely expressed are all banned by the Moroccan government. The referendum, which the MINURSO operation was set out to implement, has been blocked by Morocco.
The author of the UN Legal Opinion stated recently that the oil development was clearly illegal. The same opinion is applied to the phosphate imports.
Last year, a Saharawi was cut wth a razor blade by Moroccan police for protesting against Kosmos Energy's drilling in the territory, the first ever oil drill to take place in the territory. Read more about Kosmos Energy's drilling.
The companies have solved the dilemma of the UN Legal Opinion by misrepresenting the document. See for instance these manipulations of the UN document, published by Kosmos Energy.
Other companies have, on the other hand, taken a responsible approach. Bloomberg on 13 March 2015 refered to a U.S. fertilizer producer, Mosaic, which stopped purchasing phosphates from Western Sahara “because of widespread international concerns regarding the rights of the Sahrawi people in that region,” a Mosaic spokesman, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg.
The company defended its controversial operations during the AGM on 12 May.
In the middle of Moroccan-Spanish maritime disputes offshore Western Sahara, Morocco is lobbying for a defender of the occupation of Western Sahara to sit at an important UN scientific body for maritime continental boundaries.
The controversial export of fishmeal from occupied Western Sahara to Turkey in 2021 was worth somewhere around 64 million USD.
All due diligence alarm bells should ring before any company considers bidding for a Moroccan tender inviting for evaluation of the petroleum potential offshore occupied Western Sahara.