Next week, Morocco is to host the COP22 climate talks in Marrakech. The meeting starts on the national holiday of 7 November, the anniversary of Morocco's invasion of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara.
Half the people fled, hundreds ended up in mass graves, that autumn of 1975. The occupation was condemned by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly. The UN Human Rights Council's Committee on Civil and Political Rights on 4 November 2016 expressed concerns about torture, disappearances, resource extraction of the territory. Reporters Without Borders on 4 November called on Moroccan authorities to stop the restrictions against local journalists in Western Sahara.
At the same time, the COP22 information channels are used aggressively to market the Moroccan position on the conflict.
On 4 November, the spokesperson of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Mr. Stephane Dujarric, commented on those findings, stating that COP22 website is run by the Moroccan government, and that the UN's position is clear on the topic:
"First of all, [...] the cop22.ma website is run by the Moroccan presidency of COP. [...] The Moroccans are a partner in organizing the COP. UNFCCC has its own website. I havenít seen any maps on the COP22 website but Iím happy to see them. The UNís position on Western Sahara remains unchanged regardless of what is maybe on any website", Mr. Dujarric told Inner City Press.
However, the new development from the evening of 5 November 2016, is that the official COP22 Twitter account, @COP22, has also joined the rush of propaganda. The account is now boasting a football match supposed to take place in the city called "Laayoune". That is the Moroccan spelling of "El Aaiun", the capital city of the occupied territory. No less than 10 tweets were posted on @COP22 twitter account, on 5 November, all totally irrelevant for the climate talks.
The only purpose that the tweets and football stunt seem to have, is to draw a sense of normalcy and acceptance to the occupation - taking place on the day prior to the national commemoration of the invasion. The stunt announces that Argentinian footballer Diego Maradona is to take part in the match. Maradona has been in the territory before, paid by the Moroccan government, as part of an earlier propaganda stunt.
No state in the world, nor the UN, recognize Morocco's claims to that land. The Moroccan claims are rejected by the International Court of Justice, the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.
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 peopleís social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Moroccoís 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.