Photo above shows Aicha Dahane talking about the phosphate imports to trade unionists in Geelong. Story below appeared in the daily newspaper Geelong Advertiser on 10 May 2011.
Geelong Advertiser 10 May 2011 By Danny Lannen
Activist targets Incitec Pivot
AICHA Dahane says people in her native Western Sahara are hurting and Geelong's Incitec Pivot phosphate operation is multiplying the pain. The human rights activist visited Geelong yesterday, sharing a plea for awareness and action over what she branded as illegal exporting of rich phosphate rock from Moroccan-occupied West Sahara by Pivot and other companies. She said the trade supported Morocco and she wanted her homeland and its people to benefit from the sale of its own natural resources. "I want everybody to know about the issue in general and for the issue in Australia phosphate is the main thing,'' Ms Dahane said. "We want them to put pressure on these companies and stop import of phosphate from Western Sahara.'' Ms Dahane, 37, was born into a family of 10 the year before Moroccan forces took occupation of the west African colony. Her brother and human rights defender Brahim disappeared when she was 12. His whereabouts remained a mystery for four years and he has spent long periods in prison. Ms Dahane sought asylum in the UK at 28 and now devotes herself to her homeland. "We want to live with dignity on our land and take over the natural resources,'' she said. Ms Dahane is visiting Australia as a guest of the Australia Western Sahara Association. Her time in Geelong included lunch with union leaders at Geelong Trades Hall and a visit to Incitec Pivot's North Shore plant. Incitec Pivot Limited spokesman Stewart Murrihy said yesterday the company had "sought to fully discharge'' its Australian and international legal and ethical obligations on securing phosphate from Western Sahara. Australia's foreign affairs department had not prohibited trade of natural resources with Morocco. "IPL has closely monitored and continues to monitor the overall situation and has engaged in dialogue and enquiry with many parties on this matter,'' he said. IPL had secured phosphate rock from China, Jordan, Togo, Nauru, Vietnam and Christmas Island as well as Western Sahara for manufacture of single superphospate at its Geelong and Portland plants.
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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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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