Students in Norway hand over letter to Fugro-Geoteam
The students of Red Cross Nordic United World College (RCNUWC) addressed a letter to the Norwegian company, Fugro Geoteam, to withdraw their vessel “Geo Caribbean” from the occupied waters in Western Sahara. The letter was handed over by the Sahrawi student Basiri Mulay El-hasan.
Three representatives of the students of RCNUWC, including a Saharawi student, also animated conferences in many schools in Oslo to talk about the Moroccan human rights violations in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, and its illegal exploitation of the Saharawi mineral rich territory.
Opened in 1995, the Red Cross Nordic UWC is the United World College in the Nordic region. Sponsored by Nordic governments and the Red Cross, the College focuses on the promotion of humanitarian, environmental, Nordic values and concerns.
The college is located in western Norway. It has 200 students, aged 16-19, all selected on merit from over 80 countries.
Here is the letter:
CEO, Hans Ivar Meyer Fugro Geoteam Hoffsveien 1C 0275 Oslo Norway
Withdraw from the Occupied Areas of Western-Sahara!
Flekke, 20th of January, 2008
We, the students of Red Cross Nordic United World College, decided to write this open letter to Fugro-Geoteam. Our school is an international school with students from 80 different countries, including the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria. We would like to express our disappointment towards Fugro-Geoteam and demand that your company immediately withdraw your vessel “Geo Caribbean” from the occupied waters in Western Sahara.
Western Sahara is today the last unresolved colonial issue in Africa. The area is a former Spanish colony and was relinquished in 1975 with a promise that a referendum on self determination for the Saharawi people would be held. That promise was not kept. Instead Morocco invaded the territory of Western Sahara, forcing the Saharawi people to flee from their homeland. Many of the Saharawi were killed, wounded and disappeared in the desert because of this brutal invasion. Today many Saharawis are living in refugee camps in the Sahara Desert in the southern parts of Algeria. This is one of the world’s most inhospitable places.
On the 27th of February 1976, Polisario Front, recognised by the UN as the only representative body of the Saharawi people, declared the Saharawi Arabic Democratic Republic (SADR). Today SADR is recognized by more than 80 countries all over the world.
The fact that Fugro-Geoteam is searching for oil off the shores of occupied Western Sahara is against all international law. According to a legal opinion by the UN under-secretary general for legal affairs in 2002, it is not legal for Morocco to continue the oil search in Western Sahara if the Sahrawis object to it. We see no evidence that Fugro-Geoteam has consulted with the Sahrawi people prior to entering the territory, which according to the International Court of Justice belongs to the Sahrawi people.
After it was revealed in 2005 that the American company called Kerr-McGee, which Norway had invested money in, had been searching for oil off the shores of Western Sahara, Norway withdrew its investments. Per Kristian Foss, who at that time was the financial minister in Norway, stated that Kerr-McGee’s actions were a severe violation of fundamental ethical norms. It is therefore especially disappointing to see that a new, Norwegian company is involved in this kind of trade.
The students of Red Cross Nordic United World College therefore demand that Fugro- Geoteam immediately stop searching for oil and withdraw from Western Sahara.
The students of Red Cross Nordic United World College.
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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