Western Sahara

17 October 2012News in Brief

In late September, Spanish solidarity activists persuaded Spanish canning company Jealsa to stop using sardines from the waters of Western Sahara, which has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.
Jealsa was profiting from the occupation by operating a sardine cannery in Laayoune.

After years of protests at outlets of the Spanish Mercadona supermarket chain and at the company itself, Jealsa has moved the cannery to A Coruña in…

25 September 2012News in Brief

An international delegation from the Robert F Kennedy (RFK) Centre for Justice and Human Rights witnessed police brutality in Western Sahara during a fact-finding mission at the end of August. Four Moroccan state agents…

28 August 2012News in Brief

On 25 August, the UN rebuffed Morocco’s attempts to replace Christopher Ross, the UN peace envoy on Western Sahara.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon rang king Mohammed VI that ‘the United Nations does not intend to modify the terms of its mediation, whose purpose is to promote the achievement of a mutually acceptable political solution to this conflict.’

Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 and has illegally occupied the territory since then.

At the same time, as a US…

2 July 2012News in Brief

In early June, Western Sahara Resource Watch accused the Danish vessel Marianne Danica of illegally shipping phosphates from the occupied territory of Western Sahara. Marianne Danica left Laayoune in Western Sahara on 6 June, headed for Denmark.

Shipowners Folmer & Co denied acting illegally, but refused to identify the cargo – classified as category A dangerous, a category that includes phosphates.

According to international law, trade in resources and goods from Western…

27 April 2012News in Brief

Morocco’s attempts to manipulate a report on its illegal occupation of Western Sahara has caused a diplomatic incident at the United Nations security council (UNSC).

A hard-hitting 28-page report to the UNSC by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon was watered down after interference by Morocco and Morocco’s closest great power sponsor, France.

Ban wrote that MINURSO, the UN’s…

30 March 2012News in Brief

At the end of February, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton called Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara ‘serious, realistic and credible’ (language she had used before, in March 2011).

Morocco illegally invaded and occupied Western Sahara in 1975, and wishes to retain control of the country, which contains phosphates, has rich fishing grounds, and has oil and gas potential.

Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika rebuffed Clinton’s intervention by repeating his…

1 March 2012News in Brief

On 16 February, the European parliament approved liberalisation of EU trade in agriculture and fisheries with Morocco, which campaigners say will encourage the exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara by Morocco.

Western Sahara has been occupied illegally by Morocco since 1975.

Solidarity activists are still trying to use the renegotiation of the EU-Morocco fisheries treaty to put pressure on Morocco to improve human rights in the territory and to move towards a…

24 January 2012News in Brief

Solidarity activists are continuing to use the European Union (EU) as a lever of influence over Morocco, which has been illegally occupying the nation of Western Sahara since 1975.

The main issue is the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement, which allows EU trawlers to fish in the coastal waters of both Morocco and occupied Western Sahara.

The renewal of the agreement for one year (cost 36m Euros) was voted down in the European parliament on 14 December, and Morocco promptly banned EU…

15 December 2011News in Brief

On 17 October, British foreign secretary William Hague visited Rabat, Morocco, saying that the Arab Spring uprisings had increasing the importance of resolving the dispute over Western Sahara. However, Hague did not point out that Morocco had illegally invaded and occupied Western Sahara in 1975. His main purpose in visiting Morocco was “to strengthen our partnership with and our support for Morocco”, especially in relation to trade. Hague also failed to mention recent attacks by Moroccan…

1 December 2011News in Brief

European countries have long been willing collaborators in Moroccoís illegal occupation of Western Sahara.

As PN went to press, the fisheries committee of the European parliament was set to vote on a fisheries partnership agreement with Morocco that enables European Union (EU) vessels to fish in Moroccan and Western Saharan waters - costing the EU over E36m a year.

On 7 November, the European parliamentís budget and development committees both called on the fisheries committee…

1 October 2011News in Brief

The fall of Gaddafi has led to a major loss of support for Polisario, the independence movement in Western Sahara, illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. Guma al-Gamaty, London spokesperson for the new national transitional council government, was reported as saying in early September: “The future of the Sahara can only be conceived under the sovereignty of Morocco”. Algeria is now the only neighbouring country friendly to Western Sahara. Meanwhile the president of Women’s Advancement for…

1 September 2011News in Brief

During August, young unemployed people from Western Sahara continued their protests against the Moroccan government, which has illegally occupied the territory since 1975. On 23 August, jobless Sahrawi graduates and other unemployed young people gathered in front of the governor’s office in Bojador, demanding a share of the earnings from the natural resources of Western Sahara, and protesting against the brutality of the Moroccan security forces, who broke up a demonstration at the end of…

1 July 2011News in Brief

A leaked report has cast doubt on the renewal of a fisheries agreement between the European Union (EU) and Morocco. The agreement, which costs E36.1 million a year, gives EU fishing boats rights to fish in waters off Western Sahara, a territory illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. According to a confidential 112-page EU report, the agreement has lost money for the EU, with fishing boats landing only about E30m-worth of fish (mainly sardines and anchovies) every year. “The fleet’s…

1 June 2011News in Brief

Western Sahara was invaded by Morocco in 1975 and has been occupied illegally since then, with the complicity of the western powers. Photographer Andrew McConnell has an exhibition in New York, displaying portraits of Sahrawi Bedouins in exile from their native Western Sahara. McConnell says: “In pursuing the Sahrawis’ story, what struck me more than anything else was how forgotten these people are. How is it possible, in the 21st century, for tens of thousands of men, women, and children to…

1 May 2011News in Brief

Activists have failed to establish UN human rights monitoring of Western Sahara, the west African territory illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) monitors the ceasefire between the Western Saharan resistance movement Polisario and Morocco, and also has responsibility for organising a referendum on self-determination (blocked by Morocco).

Solidarity activists have been campaigning for MINURSO to be given a human rights…