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Free Western Sahara Aotearoa protest action at Environment Canterbury

Submitted on

Friday, 14 February

Human rights activists took over the flagpole at Environment Canterbury today, raising the flag of Western Sahara in solidarity with the Saharawi people. This coincided with a visit from a Moroccan delegation at Environment Canterbury, including the President of OCP (which is the Moroccan owned mining company in Western Sahara). Their visit was prompted following the actions of New Zealanders demanding Ravensdown to stop importing blood phosphate from Western Sahara, which is being illegally and brutally occupied by Morocco.
The delegation are both paid employees of the Moroccan government, and despite their glittery titles, their visit is solely to deceive the New Zealand public so they can continue their illegal exportation of stolen phosphate. They want New Zealand to accept a brutal occupation and oppression of people, to fulfil their business needs.
The money from the mining operations goes towards funding the 10 million land mines, which lie along the border of Western Sahara, forbidding the local Saharawi from ever returning to their home land. The area is guarded by 150,000 military and police, which is a ratio of 15 military to every 1 Saharawi. New Zealand is directly funding war crimes by continuing to purchase phosphate from the illegally occupied territory of Western Sahara.
173,000 Saharawi have had to flee their homes, and are living in refugee camps in neighbouring Algeria.
The Saharawi people have never consented for their phosphate to be taken by Morocco, and have been demanding a referendum for self determination for over 30 years. The UN and the African Union support their calls for referendum, which are being refused by the occupying power of Morocco. The Saharawi want their natural resources protected, because they need them to rebuild their lives after decades of exile, conflict and suffering.
Ravensdown has been accused by international authorities of misrepresenting the UN position by saying they are operating within their guidelines, when they have never sought the consent of the Saharawi people. The Western Sahara government in exile has never consented. OCP does not claim to have mined the phosphate with the consent of the people of the territory.
The Saharawi in the occupied territory are denied their right to self determination, they are denied civil and political rights, they are tortured, they are imprisoned without trial. The Moroccan government have implemented a media black out, and refuse to allow human rights observers to entire Western Sahara, to try and ensure these stories are never told.
In March 2017, 60 Saharawi took over a bus owned by OCP and threatened to self immolate in protest of the occupation and their lack of rights
Saharawi Diplomat, and human rights activist, Malainin Lakhal states
"It is shocking to me to see New Zealand’s authorities allowing a force of occupation, Morocco, to simply bring some of its agents, fully funded by the Moroccan government, and give them the floor to mislead the New Zealand public opinion in order to enable two companies to continue their illegal collaboration with the Moroccan regime in the criminal act of plundering Western Sahara’s phosphate.
The UN says that Western Sahara is a colony. UN resolutions indicate that Morocco is a force of occupation. The African Union recognises the Saharawi Republic as the sovereign representative of the Saharawis and the UN recognises Polisario Front as the legitimate political representative of our people. How can New Zealand government justify its position in allowing two national companies to import stolen goods from this colony in complete violation of the international law and in total disregard to Saharawi people’s will? And how can these two companies and their PR services use Moroccan colonial propaganda to justify this shameful theft?
The only thing New Zealand government can do is to put pressure on these two companies to put an end to this shameful act of theft. New Zealand has no interests in supporting the Moroccan occupation in Western Sahara. It would be an act that goes against the international legality and of course against the values and principles New Zealand has always defended."
John Kerr, South Island Organiser of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union states "‘The Rail and Maritime Transport Union opposes the importation of Blood Phosphate from Western Sahara, in accordance with the NZ Council of Trade Union’s resolution on this matter, and notes the Moroccan government’s attempts to lobby New Zealand politicians. This is clear evidence that public pressure against Morocco’s illegal occupation is having an effect.’

090/500/60 (SPS)