Monday, 30 November
Press Release: Western Sahara Campaign
Western Sahara Campaign-NZ (WSC-NZ) expresses solidarity for the people of Western Sahara and strongly condemns Morocco’s flagrant violation of the terms of the ceasefire in Western Sahara on Friday 13 November 2020.
Under the peace accord the United Nations was to organise a referendum of self -determination for the people of Western Sahara allowing them to choose the status of their land, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. The referendum has never happened.
WSC-NZ condemns the use of the Morocco military to clear unarmed Sahrawi civilians who had been demonstrating peacefully in Guerguerat in south-western Western Sahara since late October. The protest had been blocking an illegal crossing – a road unilaterally built by Morocco through the Buffer Zone, an area under the control of MINURSO, the UN mission tasked with organising the referendum. This road had come to symbolise the impunity with which Morocco continues violating Sahrawi rights and illegally plundering their resources.
The United Nations has failed in its promise of a referendum and the outbreak of military hostilities is the culmination of years of neglect of Western Sahara by the international community. The people of Western Sahara, the Sahrawi, are understandably hugely frustrated – those living under occupation in Western Sahara and those exiled to refugee camps in the Algerian desert for over 45 years.
WSC-NZ urges the United Nations to set a date for the long overdue referendum of self-determination. The UN must pressure Morocco to withdraw its army from the Buffer Strip and respect the terms of the ceasefire. It must also give MINURSO the mandate to monitor and report on human rights in Western Sahara and end the plunder of the Sahrawi natural resources.
WSC-NZ urges New Zealanders to contact their political representatives and ask for a clear statement on where New Zealand stands on this matter. At the same time asking that the government compel the two NZ importers, Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Ravensdown, to stop importing phosphate rock plundered by Morocco from Western Sahara.
New Zealanders must realise that their standard of living is based on the resources of a dispossessed people.
Finally, the United Nations’ Secretary-General should urgently appoint a Special Envoy to Western Sahara to progress negotiations and assist with the decolonisation process of Africa’s last colony.