Saharawis protest Moroccan land grab in front of digging machines
WSRW has received footage of Saharawis protesting in front of digging machines, supposedly owned by the Moroccan state owned phosphate company OCP. The Saharawis claim that Morocco is confiscating their land to allow more foreign investments in the occupied territory.
Today's protest took place just south of Western Sahara's capital city El Aaiun. The protesters were mainly elderly Saharawis, whose families are said to have owned the land for a long time. Photos of today's protest are included below.
Sources on the ground say that the Moroccan government is confiscating land that belongs to Saharawis. Morocco would want to increase the number of foreign investors in the part of Western Sahara that it occupies in violation of international law. Offering land up to the potential investors would be a first step in that process.
The same sources state that about seven weeks ago, an unknown foreign delegation visited the area that is now being cleared by the digging machines. Some time before that, the Chair of the Crans Montana Forum is also said to have visited the area, during a trip in which he also visited Boujdour and Dakhla - two other cities in occupied Western Sahara. Though widely condemned, Crans Montana organised a Forum for politicians and businessmen in occupied Western Sahara earlier this year. Several governments and international institutions, including the United Nations, called upon their personnel not to attend the Forum. The African Union strongly condemned the Forum taking place in Africa's last colony.
Just five days ago, several Saharawi families gathered in protest of the land grab in the same place. Scroll further down for photos of that protest.
16 October 2015, it was 40 years since the International Court of Justice found no ties of sovereignty between Morocco and Western Sahara. More than 100 UN resolutions call for the right to self-determination of Western Sahara, dealt with by the UN as the last colonial issue in Africa.
WSRW is trying to identify the people directly involved, and will come back with further information later if succeeding.
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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