The press release below was issued by Saharawi groups last week. For high resolution version of images at the bottom of this story, click on each image. The photos were taken in the Saharawi refugee camps last week.
San Leon Energy: Double offense against Saharawi people
Press release, Western Sahara, 14 July 2015.
We the Saharawi NGOs leading theKosmosEnough campaign of Western Sahara have sadly been informed that Irish/UK Oil Company San LeonEnergy has announced to start drilling for gas in occupied territory of Western Sahara, in a controversial contract with Morocco, which has been occupying Western Sahara since 1975.
“San Leon's operations are in keeping with our obligations under international law and work for the betterment of all persons in the Southern Provinces of Morocco”, San Leon's executive chairman Oisin Fanning said in a statement to the Irish Independent yesterday.
By this, San Leon made two huge unethical mistakes. One by getting into illegal and unethical contract with the wrong side, which is obviously against International Law.
In this regard, a legal opinion from the UN in 2002 stated clearly, “any further exploration of oil in Western Sahara must be in accordance with the wishes and interests of the people of the Western Sahara”. San Leon never sought the consent of indigenous Saharawis who have been protesting against these companies for years now.
The other offense made by San Leon is describing the occupied zone of Western Sahara as “Southern provinces of Morocco”. No state in the world recognizes the groundless Moroccan claims to the territory. The International Court of Justice in its legal opinion of 1975 on Western Sahara made it clear also that there’s no sovereignty ties between Morocco and by then Spanish Sahara or any other reason that may obstacle the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination through fair and democratic referendum.
It must be clear for San Leon that its involvement in such controversial activity only adds fuel to the flames andundermines the UN peace process through its support to the illegal Moroccan occupation. "The company is directly contributing to prolong the sufferings of Saharawi people in occupied Western Sahara and the refugee camps", stated Saharawi Students Union Mr. MoulayEmhamed.
Kosmos Enough campaign as Saharawi voice urges San Leon to revise its decision and withdraw immediately from occupied Western Sahara until the conflict has been resolved.
"We invite Irish and UK civil society, political parties and governments to help us to stop the injustice committed by this company. They have no right to plunder our natural resources while its people live in exile and under oppression", stated Mr. Jalihenna Mohamed, coordinator of the Saharawi led campaign Kosmos Enough.
Saharawi Students Union, UESARIO. The National Union of Saharawi Women, UNMS. Saharawi Trade Union, UGTSARIO. Saharawi Youth Union, UJSARIO.
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.
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.
Big oil’s interest in occupied Western Sahara has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Some companies are now drilling, in complete disregard of international law and the Saharawi people’s rights. Here’s what you need to know.