Icelandic captain died in Western Sahara
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A captain on the Icelandic vessel \"Que Sera Sera\" died of toxification while carrying out illegal fishing in occupied Western Sahara.

Published 26 December 2007

For several years, Icelandic companies have been carrying out illegal and highly unethical fishing in the occupied Western Sahara.

Now, the captain on the vessel Que Sera Sera is reported dead from toxification, according to a press report from the Moroccan news service MAP on December 26th 2007. The captain died from inhalation of gases from fermenting fish onboard the vessel, out on the open sea, according to MAP. The vessel is owned by the company Fleur de Mer. A Moroccan sailor also died in the incident, while a third person is currently hospitalised in Western Sahara's capital, El Aaiun.

Western Sahara Resource Watch wishes to expresses its sympathy with the family of the deceased. At the same time, WSRW urges the Icelandic government to immediately stop the country's participation in the plundering of Western Saharan fishing resources. 

"The Icelandic participation in the plundering of the occupied country is politically controversial and highly unethical", says Nick O'Neill of Western Sahara Resource Watch.

"Companies such as Fleur de Mer should know better. While they enter into these deals with the occupying power Morocco, the majority of the Sahrawi population have either been forced to seek refuge abroad, or are living under terrible conditions in their occupied homeland", says O'Neill.

Western Sahara was occupied by Morocco in 1975, and Morocco refuses to comply with over 100 resolutions in the UN Security Council and General Assembly, demanding the respect of the indigenous Sahrawi people's right to self-determination. The International Court of Justice has also refused the Moroccan claims to the land. More than 500 Sahrawis have disappeared during the occupation, and a Spanish court in December opened proceedings against Moroccan officials for participation in murders against the Sahrawis.

The Swedish Minister of Foreign affairs has this autumn clearly stated that fishing activities in Western Sahara is in violation of international law, while the Norwegian government strongly discourages such activities of political reasons. The Icelandic government has so far been quiet on the issue of Western Sahara.

"We demand from the Icelandic government that they follow Norway and Sweden, so that we do not longer need to see vessels such as Que Sera Sera in Western Saharan waters", says O'Neill. 

Sahrawi demonstrations that demand self-determination are brutally put down by the Moroccan police. On December 25th, at least 25 Sahrawis were reported injured when Moroccan security forces attacked a peaceful demonstration for independence in the city of El Aaiun. Several houses were also stormed by the police in the Hay Maatala and Linaach neighbourhoods, as well as in the Maghreb Arabe avenue.

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