Western Sahara

1 April 2024News in Brief

The European Union should cancel its fishing agreement with Morocco. That was the legal advice given by an advocate general (almost a judge) at the European court of justice on 21 March.

Tamara Ćapeta said that the problem was that the agreement would allow EU boats to catch fish in the rich waters off Western Sahara, a huge territory illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.

Surprisingly, Ćapeta advised the same day that it was alright for the EU to import melons and tomatoes…

1 December 2023News in Brief

In October, the Moroccan government unveiled plans for over £40bn of investments in green energy projects, most of it destined for Western Sahara, territory Morocco has illegally occupied since 1975.

‘Possibly as much as 81% of all the land that the Moroccan government has earmarked for renewable energy and green hydrogen or ammonia projects, is located in occupied Western Sahara,’ according to Western Sahara Resource Watch.

Spanish, German and US companies are involved in some…

1 October 2023News in Brief

The government of independent Western Sahara was represented at both the BRICS international summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August, and at the African Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, in early September.

Morocco has illegally occupied most of Western Sahara since 1975, which means that the territory’s real government, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), is not recognised as a member of the United Nations.

It is, however, a member of the African Union, which…

1 August 2023News in Brief

In mid-July, Israel recognised Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara (illegally-occupied since 1975). In return, Morocco has invited Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

The two countries have become closer after Morocco signed up to the US-sponsored ‘Abraham Accords’ in December 2020, promising to normalise relations with Israel.

This was in return for US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco, a policy…

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…