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).
Sultana managed to leave Western Sahara for medical treatment in June, and she remains in Europe. Solidarity groups are pressing for guarantees that she can return home safely.
From court to Tesco
Coming back to the UK, on 5 October the Western Sahara Campaign UK (WSC UK) went to the high court in London to challenge the 2019 UK-Morocco Association Agreement, which is being applied – illegally – to goods from Western Sahara.
Both the UN’s top legal officer (in 2002) and the European court of justice (in 2016) have confirmed that it is against the law to trade in the resources of an occupied territory without respect to the interests and wishes of the the people there.
WSC UK, which is helping to organise a major solidarity conference in London on 29 October (see p24), is also calling on supporters to do some lobbying and to take part in actions against local supermarkets.
The lobbying (of MPs, the foreign office and the UN) is about the UN mission to Western Sahara, MINURSO, whose mandate is going to be extended by a vote at the UN on 28 October.
The WSC UK’s main demand is for MINURSO to be given a mandate to monitor and report on human rights in Western Sahara, something that Morocco has resisted fiercely.
On supermarkets, Tesco and Morrisons sell cherry tomatoes from Dahkla, Western Sahara, but label them as coming from Morocco.
WSC UK are asking for people in England and Scotland to help challenge this colonial dishonesty.