According to reports Western Sahara Resource Watch have received from a Sahrawi group in occupied Western Sahara, the oil tanker Purple Gem carried the flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic upon entering the port of El Aaiun beginning of this week.
The Moroccan police is said to have acted rapidly when they discovered the flag, and ordered the crew to remove it. The above photo is taken shortly afterwards.
Waiving the Sahrawi flag in Western Sahara is forbidden by law. No state in the world recognises Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. Some three quarters of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco since 1975.
Some 80 states have on the other hand recognised the Sahrawi Arabi Democratic Republic.
The 119 meter long tanker is Malta registered, with IMO number 9403827. When arriving Western Sahara, the ship had a Ukrainian and Turkish crew.
Purple Gem has now left Sahrawi waters. She was last observed in the port of Mohamedia, in Morocco proper, on 21 June 2009.
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.
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.
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