Above: HeidelbergCement's plant in occupied Western Sahara. Photo: Mohamed Dchira.
A few kilometers outside of the capital city of Western Sahara, a subsidiary of HeidelbergCement is operating a cement production plant. The factory is owned by Ciments du Maroc (CIMAR), which in turn is part of the German multinational via an Italian subsidiary, Italcementi.
Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) on 1 March 2018 sent a letter to HeidelbergCement, enquiring about whether it had obtained consent from the representative of the people of Western Sahara to operate in the occupied territory. WSRW also asked questions regarding the company's clients and policies.
The company even locates the capital city of Western Sahara in the "Southern Provinces" or the "provinces Sahariennes" which is Morocco's narrative of describing the territory it holds under illegal occupation.
On all maps on HeidelbergCement's website, Western Sahara is illustrated as being part of Morocco. No country in the world, nor the UN, consider Western Sahara as part of Morocco. The Court of Justice of the EU in a ruling on 21 December 2016 clarified the status of the territories of Morocco and Western Sahara to be "distinct and separate". The Advocate General of the court on 10 January 2018 elaborated further on the status of Morocco in the territory as an occupying power, underlining that international humanitarian law applies.
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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.
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