Western Sahara

1 June 2023News in Brief

Moroccan drone attacks in Western Sahara are forcing thousands of people to flee, sometimes for a second time, leaving the territory for Algeria or Mauritania, the New Humanitarian reported in mid-May.

Morocco has illegally occupied two-thirds of Western Sahara since 1975; these attacks occurred in the other third of the country, desert controlled by the Sahrawi national liberation movement, Polisario.

Sahrawis gave US journalist Wilson McMakin photographs taken this…

2 April 2023News in Brief

‘I’m so fed up, and I’m so angry. There is a war and nobody is talking about it. Everybody is talking about Ukraine, and nobody is talking about Western Sahara,’ Mohamed-Lamin, a human rights activist living in a Sahrawi refugee camp, told New Humanitarian in February.

Western nations which have fiercely opposed Russia’s invasion, occupation and annexation of part of Ukraine are drifting towards accepting and officially recognising Morocco’s invasion, occupation and…

1 February 2023News in Brief

It is now suspected that Moroccan bribery may have led to a human rights activist from Western Sahara not making it to the shortlist of the prestigious Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought in 2021.

Sultana Khaya told the Italian newspaper, Il fatto quotidiano, how joyful she was to hear she had been nominated: ‘This candidacy seemed to me to be a great help. We needed someone to literally save our lives. This candidacy felt like an important link with the outside world.’…

1 December 2022News in Brief

19 Saharawi activists continue to be unjustly imprisoned for their involvement in a nonviolent protest camp in Western Sahara in 2010, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reminded us on 8 November.

The Gdeim Izik camp grew to house more than 5,000 Saharawis nonviolently protesting against discrimination, poverty and human rights abuses under Moroccan occupation. Morocco has illegally occupied Western Sahara since 1975.

When Moroccan forces brutally broke up…

1 October 2022News

This autumn sees a burst of activity in Britain over Western Sahara, ‘Africa’s last colony’ – in court, in parliament, in conference and in supermarkets

Western Sahara, which has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975, saw a long ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario liberation front, from 1991 until 2020, when Morocco moved forces into a UN-patrolled buffer zone (PN 2648 – 2649). Scattered fighting is continuing in border areas.

Recently, Moroccan security forces mounted a brutal campaign against a Sahrawi human rights activist, Sultana Khaya, including beatings and sexual assault (PN 2661).

1 August 2022News in Brief

Sahrawi human rights activist Sultana Khaya is free! She’s receiving medical treatment in Spain.

Sultana had been under effective house arrest in occupied West Sahara since November 2020, during which time Moroccan security forces have raped her and sexually abused her sisters and her 80-year-old mother.

Sultana has had protection from house raids since Western solidarity activists came to stay with her on 15 March. However, other Sahrawis have been beaten for visiting or…

1 April 2022Feature

A Democracy Now! interview with Stephen Zunes on 21 March

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

As we continue to look at the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we’re joined by professor Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco. He recently published an article in The Progressive headlined ‘The US Hypocrisy on Ukraine.’ Zunes condemns the Russian invasion but criticises what he sees as President Biden’s hypocrisy.

He writes: ‘If Biden really believed that…

1 October 2019News in Brief

In September, activists from Environmental Justice Ōtepoti blockaded a New Zealand fertiliser plant on the outskirts of the city of Dunedin.

They were protesting against the use of ‘blood phosphate’ from Western Sahara by Ravensdown, a farmers’ fertiliser co-operative.

Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. As the phosphate is extracted by a Moroccan state company, OCP, without the consent of the Sahrawi people, it cannot be legally traded.…

1 August 2019News in Brief

In July, French citizen Claude Mangin-Asfari was prevented for the fifth time from visiting her husband, the Sahrawi political prisoner Naâma Asfari. She flew into Casablanca on 8 July and was refused entry to Morocco – and put on the next plane back to Orly.

Naâma Asfari is serving 30 years in the notorious Kenitra prison in Morocco for helping to organise the Gdeim Izik protest camp in 2010.

Gdeim Izik grew to house more than 5,000 people nonviolently protesting against…

1 June 2019News in Brief

British companies are involved in the illegal exploitation of phosphate from Western Sahara, a new report has revealed.

One of the resources that Morocco illegally exports from occupied Sahrawi territory is phosphate, the element used in artificial fertilisers. Western Sahara has been one of the world’s largest suppliers of high-quality phosphate rock.

Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 and has illegally occupied the territory ever since. Western Sahara Resources Watch has…

1 April 2019News in Brief

The government of Morocco will go a long way to prevent Westerners hearing criticism of its policies in Western Sahara, which it has illegally occupied since 1975.

The government reportedly forced the Arab World Institute (AWI) in Paris to cancel a concert by Saharawi singer Aziza Brahim, due to sing on 10 March as part of an ‘Arabofolies’ festival dedicated to women and resistance.

According to RFI, the French equivalent to the BBC World Service radio station, Moroccan…

1 February 2019News in Brief

The European Union is undermining the Western Sahara peace process.

On 16 January, the European parliament agreed that a new trade deal between the EU and Morocco would extend to the resources of Western Sahara, despite a 2016 European court of justice (ECJ) ruling against such exploitation.

Green MEP, Heidi Hautala, a vice-president of the European parliament, denounced the deal.

Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. The ECJ…

1 December 2018News in Brief

More than 7,000 people marched for a free Western Sahara in an annual march in Madrid on 17 November.

While Western Sahara continues to be illegally occupied by neighbouring Morocco, it is illegal to extract resources from the territory (because there cannot be consent from the Saharawi people).

Irish/UK oil company San Leon Energy, registered on the Alternative Investment Market in London, is the only company to have drilled onshore for oil in Western Sahara during 43…

1 October 2018News in Brief

Geoex Ltd, a geological services company based in Kent, has been helping Moroccan state oil company OHNYM survey for gas and oil off the coast of Western Sahara. Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975, making such exploration illegal as it takes place without the consent of the Saharawi people.

Western Sahara Resource Watch wrote to Geoex in July urging it to stop acquiring or selling Saharawi seafloor data .

(Seismic study group TGS-Nopec…

1 August 2018News in Brief

Regular readers will know that Polisario, the liberation movement for Western Sahara (illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975), managed to get a cargo ship full of phosphate rock (illegally mined in the territory) impounded by a court in South Africa last year.

We now know that the ship, the NM Cherry Blossom, will no longer carry phosphate from Western Sahara. Western Sahara Resource Watch calculates that the company that charters the ship lost £3.5m because of the year…