The protesters stated they had blocked two trucks transporting super-phosphate fertilizer from leaving the plant for about an hour until the police arrived. Reportedly, one of the trucks accelerated into the protesters while attempting to leave the premise. Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) is not aware of any injuries.
A small group of protesters also took to the Dunedin Public Art Gallery to approach New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was attending in an event there. They had signs with slogans saying "Free Western Sahara" and "Jacinda remember 2008", reminding the Prime Minister of her visit to the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria in that year.
Find photos of the protest below. Click the photos for a higher resolution version.
Ravensdown is one of two Kiwi farmers' cooperatives that have a longtime imported phosphate rock from the phosphate mines in Western Sahara, that are exploited by Morocco ever since it invaded and illegally annexed parts of Western Sahara in 1975. Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd has been importing since the 1980s.
The UN regards Western Sahara as an unfinished decolonisation. The territory's people, the Saharawis, have an internationally acknowledged right to self-determination, and not a single State in the world recognises Morocco's baseless claim to its southern neighbour.
While Saharawis are forced to live as refugees in the inhospitable Algerian desert or suffer the yoke of the occupation in their homeland, Morocco reels in the profits from selling the resources of a land to which it has no claim. As a result, its incentive to engage in the UN's peace-efforts are low, and the peace-process has been deadlocked for over a decade. Particularly lucrative to Morocco are Western Sahara's phosphate reserves which are renowned for their high quality - a quality Ravensdown claims to be crucial for the production of its super-phosphate fertilizer products.
Protest at the Dunedin art gallery, where Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern was visiting.
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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 five 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.