Photo above: The above photo of the police checkpoint was taken at the time when Foster and Espey were detained on the inside.
US citizen Michael Foster and Canadian Tess Espey traveled this morning to Western Sahara to interview Saharawis regarding the exploitation of natural resources in the territory.
Canada is, by far, the key importer of phosphates from Western Sahara. Espey is from Vancouver, the port-city that is receiving most phosphates from Western Sahara worldwide. The importer in the city is Agrium Inc., a fertilizer production company.
The delegation took the bus from Marrakech last night, and arrived at the check point of El Aaiun at 11 AM in this morning, 17 January.
The police told the two that they doubted Espey and Foster had come to El Aauin to do tourism. Around 1PM they were deported in a taxi with other foreigners.
Five other foreign delegations have today been kicked out off the occupied territories, including people from Norway, Poland and the Netherlands.
"It is extremely undoable. At that point it was nothing we could do to get into the city. Our reasons were very legitimate, but it was definitely no way we would get in", stated Foster to Western Sahara Resource Watch.
"I think it is embarrassing that Canadian companies are pivotal in exploration of resources of Western Sahara. They should stop. It is unjust, underpinning the human rights violations. It is against the moral standings that Canada is trying promote on the world stage", Espey stated.
The last weeks have seen daily demonstrations by unemployed Saharawis in the occupied territories.
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.