A local environmental organisation in Dunedin, New Zealand, this week-end protested the arrival of a bulk vessel entering the port, loaded with phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara.
In the background of the photos, one can spot the vessel 'Triton Valk', just having arrived the port. The importer of the cargo is the fertilizer company Ravensdown.
“The occupation is pretty brutal” said Rose Murphy, spokesperson for Environmental Justice Ōtepoti, who were behind the protest , “I think the people of Dunedin would be horrified to know that a local business is funding such an injustice", she said.
Ms. Murphy stated that their group supports the right to self determination of the Saharawi people. "Ravensdown and Ballance should stop dealing in Blood Phosphate until they get a referendum for their independence", she said.
Last year a ship carrying phosphates destined for New Zealand was detained in South Africa as their courts ruled that the cargo was stolen from the people of Western Sahara.
The people of Western Sahara are calling for Ravensdown LTD and Ballance agri-nutrients to “stop stealing their future”. The two New Zealand fertilizer cooperatives are the last two companies that still import from the occupied territory apart from one Indian company partially owned by the Moroccan royal family.
All other previous importers globally have stopped purchasing from the controversial mine. The trade of the mineral from 2017 is reported in the WSRW report P for Plunder 2017, published in April 2018.
The Saharawi government has asked Ravensdown compensation for the goods, which the fertilizer cooperative had purchased from Morocco, the occupier.
The group owner of Triton Valk is Sumitomo Corp from Japan, while shipmanager and operator is Triton Navigation BV from Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
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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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