Hunger striking against EU fisheries in Western Sahara
UPDATE - The hunger strike was ended on Saturday 18 June 2011. Since 12 April, six Saharawi citizens in Guelmim in Southern Morocco have been on hunger strike to condemn the EU’s fisheries in occupied Western Sahara and the involvement of US phosphate importer PCS and Irish oil company San Leon in the plunder of the territory.
‘EU, respect our rights’, reads a placard resting on the bodies of the hunger striking protesters.
Desperate living conditions and zero prospects have driven 6 young Saharawi citizens to risk their lives. While resource-rich Western Sahara is being exploited by Morocco and complicit business partners, Saharawi are increasingly relegated to the fringes of society.
The hunger strikers are supported by all layers of the Saharawi community. Inspired by the outcry for justice throughout North Africa, people are no longer afraid to speak out against those they see as directly responsible for their inhumane circumstances.
‘PCS is plundering our land’, their placards read. ‘PCS: Please Cease the Stealing’. The US-Canadian fertiliser producer PotashCorp (PCS) is the biggest importer from Western Sahara in the world. With its continuous imports, the company has provided the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara with considerable financial injections.
Saharawi protesters also call upon the Irish company San Leon, leading the way in the onshore exploration of oil and gas in occupied Western Sahara, to leave the area. They also denounce the EU-Moroccan fisheries agreement - perceived by many as an implicit sign of political support to Morocco’s untenable claim over Western Sahara - as well as the main supporter of the EU fisheries, Spain.
The protesters are all from Guelmim in Southern Morocco. The town has a large Saharawi population, regularly expressing support to the cause of self-determination of the Saharawi from Western Sahara further south.
According to a UN Legal Opinion of 2002, economic activities in Africa’s last colony can only take place if the Saharawi agree to it and stand to benefit. Neither of these conditions has ever been fulfilled by Morocco or foreign businesses active in the territory. The recent wave of protests denouncing the plunder, both in Western Sahara and in Southern Morocco, proves that.
Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975. Its self-proclaimed sovereignty over the territory was rebutted by the International Court of Justice, and more than 100 UN Resolutions acknowledge the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination. While the international community is turning a blind eye to the ongoing brutal occupation, international businesses are reeling in revenues through illegal trade deals with Morocco.
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 people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s 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.