19 December

Dr. Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco,  A discussion on the latest in Western Sahara, including growing frustrations among young Sahrawi, the roles of France and the US and continuing stalemate. The Global African, 17 December 2015.

Click play and Zunes interview will start automatically [at “17:30]

Control of environmental Resources (Legal recourses appeal to human rights)

Total to Halt Western Sahara Work, Petroleum Africa, 29 December 2015

Total will halt preliminary offshore oil survey work in disputed Western Sahara, unfortunately it was not due to the illegality of the exploration work under a UN edict, but because its seismic data analysis was disappointing.

“The results of the geological surveys conducted in the Anzarane block were not encouraging and the reconnaissance authorization will not be transformed into an exploration license,” a Total spokesman said according to an iAfrica report.

Total was contracted to conduct geological survey in a vast block off Western Sahara in December 2011, and the agreement was later extended to December 2015. The company has now informed the Moroccan authorities that it will not seek further extension.

Total renounces oil survey work off Western Sahara, 22 December 2015, Arab News

However the decision comes less than two weeks after a farm trade deal between the European Union and Morocco was annulled by the EU’s top court because it illegally involved the disputed region of Western Sahara.
It also comes as oil companies are slashing investment as oil prices slide to 11-year lows, making many offshore projects no longer financially attractive.

Total has left occupied Western Sahara, Published: 21 December 2015
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The French multinational oil company has announced that it is no longer pursuing oil search offshore Western Sahara. “More good news for the Saharawi people. We urge the remaining oil companies to follow suit”, stated WSRW.

“Total has informed the Moroccan authorities that it would not request a new extension of its reconnaissance authorisation in the Anzarane block,” a source told AFP today.  “The first analysis of seismic data didn’t find anything,” added the source.

 

Political Prisoners (Repression: imprisonment, resistance)

Transfer of a Saharawi political prisoner to the hospital after 13 days of hunger strike, 30 December 2015 

El Aaiun(occupied territories of Western Sahara), December 30, 2015 (SPS) The journalist and Saharawi political prisoner, Mohamed Banbari, transferred from the black prison in El Aaiun, the occupied capital of Western Sahara by Morocco, to the hospital after fainting and vomiting after 13 days of hunger strike.

Leadership and organization

The 14 Polisario Congress

14th Polisario Congress: Reinforcement of security in liberated Sahrawi territories dominates works of commissions
20 December 2015, The Congress “whose majority is made of young activists representing 52% of the participants at the congress underlined the need to strengthen the army’s capacities for a possible return to armed action to enforce the Sahrawi people’s legitimate rights to self-determination.”

 

4 December – 18 December

Protest (Public Assembly, symbolic public acts, slogans, singing. Repression: direct physical violence, control of information)

Unemployed Sahrawi Graduates Oppressed In International Human Rights Day

Unemployed Sahrawi Graduates celebrated the occasion of the 67th international human rights day under the slogan “a continuous struggle to achieve employment and protect human dignity”.

On Thursday 10 December the peaceful protesters held a demonstration at the corner of Alquds and Smara streets.

Unemployed Saharawis were beaten for demanding a job

Several Saharawis were allegedly injured in a demonstration in El Aaiun yesterday, in which youth demanded employment opportunities on their own land. Among them a 34 year old law graduate.

“Two officers took my banner from me, on which I had written that the wealth of natural resources in Western Sahara should guarantee me a job”, stated

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Violent repression of peaceful protest for disrupting the occupied El Aaiun

Political Prisoners (Repression: imprisonment)

Saharawi political prisoner Hamza Gamihi sentenced to two years in prison

7 December  2015 -Young Hamza Gamihi was arrested on June 04, 2013, in the city of Smara (occupied Western Sahara) following his participation in a peaceful demonstration demanding the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.

Hamza Gamihi had spent four and a half months in pre-trial detention as a Sahrawi political prisoner, and was released on parole on October 30, 2013 along with a group of Saharawi political prisoners. On Wednesday The Moroccan Criminal Division of the Court of Appeals in the occupied city of El Aaiun (occupied Western Sahara) sentenced Hamza Gamihi to two years in prison.

Control of environmental Resources (Legal recourses, trade embargoes, appeal to human rights)

European Court annuls EU trade agreement with Morocco
10.12. 2015 The European Court of Justice ordered the annulment of a trade agreement between Morocco and the European Union since it includes the territory of Western Sahara. “A landmark decision in the history of the occupation of Western Sahara”, states WSRW. Press conference in Brussels, Friday.

Two other cases are currently dealt with in the ECJ. One is initiated by the same Frente Polisario, regarding EU fisheries in the territory. The other is a case initiated by Western Sahara Campaign UK regarding labelling of goods -; a case which was forwarded to the ECJ by a UK court in October 2015.

The EU is now in negotiations with Morocco for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. The EU has ignored all requests from WSRW to have the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara explicitly excluded from those negotiations.

Court Annuls EU Trade Accord With Morocco, Cites Western Sahara Issue
The Wall Street Journal, 10 December 2015, Judicial panel backs Polisario Front independence movement and says 2012 agreement shouldn’t apply to disputed territory

The case brought by the Polisario Front threatens a deal that had expanded duty-free status to dozens of Moroccan agricultural and fisheries products imported to the EU. However,  the judgment should have no immediate impact on commerce as the EU has over two months to appeal the ruling.

EU to Appeal Top Court’s Ruling on Morocco Trade Accord

The Wall Street Journal, 14 December 2015, EU’s second highest court had struck down agreement last week on Western Sahara concerns. The European Union said  it will appeal a ruling by one of the bloc’s top courts.

In its ruling, the EU’s General Court—its second highest tribunal—said the bloc hadn’t carried out its duties to ensure it considered all aspects of the deal, including its impact on the fundamental rights of the people of Western Sahara and who controls the region’s natural resources.

The EU will also hold preplanned talks with Morocco on Monday which include negotiations, launched in 2013, on a deeper and broader trade deal.

See also: Joint Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the Union position within the Association Council set up by the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Kingdom of Morocco, of the other part, with regard to the adoption of a recommendation on the implementation of the EU-Morocco Action Plan implementing the advanced status (2013-2017)

Opinio Juris, Guest Post: General Court of the European Union annuls the EU-Morocco Free Trade Agreement on Human Rights Grounds but Forgets Self-Determination
by Nadia Bernaz And Elvira Dominguez Redondo

The judgement is important for two main reasons. First, the Court found the case admissible, taking a stance on the issue of the legal personality of Frente Polisario. Second, on the merits, the Court considered that while the Council had wide discretion with regard to the conclusion of agreements with third countries, it should have ensured that the EU was not at the risk of indirectly encouraging human rights violations or benefiting from such violations. The Council’s failure to do so, the Court stated, constituted a manifest error of appreciation which justifies quashing the decision. While the Court avoided basing its decision on the right to self-determination, (it did not evaluate the validity of agreements contrary to customary international law) the decision may nonetheless have important implications for the concern of business with human rights.

Glencore Exclude from KLP Insurance over Western Sahara Oil Exploration
KLP Norway’s largest life insurance company excluded Glencore due to the company’s oil exploration off the coast of Western Sahara. KLP’s conclusion is that this activity constitutes an unacceptable risk of violating fundamental ethical norms. KLP has previously excluded the French oil company Total for similar activities.

The occupation of Western-Sahara has continued for several decades and is in many ways one of the world’s “forgotten” conflicts. Presently, it is difficult to conclude that companies can engage in oil exploration on the continental shelf off the coast of Western Sahara in a manner consistent with international law.

Swedish fishermen to pay fine for Western Sahara fisheries

Two Swedish fishermen are obliged to pay a half a million euro fine for fishing in occupied Western Sahara. Published: 15 December 2015

The Supreme Court of Sweden has decided not to accept the appeal of two Swedish fishermen for illegal fishing in Western Sahara during the years of 2007 and 2008. An eight year long legal process against the fishing group in Dakhla has thus come to an end. The European Court of Justice has also confirmed that the two had been fishing illegal, as it was not done under the EU-Moroccan fisheries partnership agreement.

 International law

Washington,December 09, 2015 (SPS) – The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will undertake support actions to the mediation efforts for the settlement of the conflict in occupied Western Sahara, by paying a visit to the region as from January, announced Tuesday in New York his Special Envoy for Western Sahara Christopher Ross.

Ban Ki-moon tasked me to step up my efforts, said Ross in his briefing to the UN Security Council, adding that to support the process of peace in Western Sahara, Ban Ki-moon plans to visit the region as from January.

During this meeting, Ross underlined the position of UN secretary general on the issue of Western Sahara and which was reiterated in Ban Ki-moon’s declaration made on 4 November 2015.

To remove any ambiguity on this position, Ross reminded of the call launched by Ban Ki-moon to the parties in conflict in occupied Western Sahara (Morocco and Polisario Front) to enter into direct negotiations which should lead to a political solution granting to the Sahrawi people their right to self-determination.(SPS)

Leadership and organization

The Saharawi President, Mohamed Abdaziz, Calls on Electing a New Leadership

8 December 2015, The Saharawi President, Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Mohamed Abdaziz, at an emergency meeting on Monday, has called the National Secretariat for the front to elect a new leadership.

According to sources, Mohamed Abdalaziz, has announced his intention to leave power from Fourteenth Congress onward, calling for the election of a new leadership that truly represents the Saharawi people , a leadership that works to realize their hopes and aspirations.

In August, the 13th 2015, during the 12th session of the National Secretariat of the Polisario front, Mr. President called emphasized the need to elect new leadership, including the new secretary general for the Polisario Front.

The Secretary General of the Polisario’s comments is a step towards a new start and a chance for the good practice of Democracy in its solid and concrete form, not to forget that Mr. President, Mohamed Abdalaziz has sacrificed his entire life in the work of realizing a free Western Sahara for the Saharawis.

Algeria: Some 2,475 Delegates At 14th Polisario Front Congress

14 December 2015, Algiers — Some 2,475 delegates will take part in the 14th Congress of the Polisario Front (December 16-20) in the province of Dakhla (Saharawi refugee camp), according to the Saharawi ambassador to Algiers, Brahim Ghali.

The congress will be held under the slogan, “Strength, Planning and Willpower to Impose National Independence and Sovereignty.”

National Secretariat holds extraordinary session before the 14 Polisario Front Congress
08 December 2015 –

National Secretariat of the Polisario Front held on Monday an extraordinary session under the chairmanship of President of the Republic , Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Mr. Mohamed Abdelaziz, where it discussed the conclusions  presented by the National Preparatory Committee of the Fourteenth Congress about its work ,and a number of documents presented to it including the programme of national action, basic law of Polisario Front, and the constitution of Republic as well as  the draft of the narrative report of NS to be submitted to the Congress.

National Secretariat praised the efforts of the National Preparatory Committee of the 14 Congress and expressed with satisfaction the results registered during stages of preparation characterized by comprehensive popular participation, spirit of seriousness, responsibility and insist on the completion of the stages of this National Merit, despite the recent heavy rains and flood that hit the Sahrawi Refugee Camps.

 

20 November – 4 December

Aljazeera English Hosts a Program About the Conflict of Western Sahara With the Saharawi Activist Senia Bachir.

Al Jazeera English, on November 25, 2015, hosted a program discussing the issue of Western Sahara after four decades of the Moroccan occupation of the territory.

Al Jazeera’s “The stream” Program titled “Decades of dispute in Western Sahara,  hosted its guests online, amongst whom was the Saharawi activist, Ms. Senia Al-Bashir, joining from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

 

Political Prisoners (Prisoners strike)

Urgent Action
Posted on November 23, 2014

Embarek Daoudi, 58 years old, a Saharawi political prisoner in Sale prison in Morocco, went on hunger strike on Saturday 1st November to protest against abuse and negligence by prison officials. He is also protesting against the continued delay in setting a date for his trial which has been going on for over a year since his detention began. Mr. Daoudi’s health is rapidly deteriorating. He is now unable to walk or talk, has difficulty opening his eyes and started vomiting blood on Friday 21 November. He has repeatedly complained about his treatment, but the conditions under which he is kept have not improved. He is in an overcrowded cell with over 20 prisoners.

6 – 20 November

International protest (Public Assembly, symbolic public acts, slogans.)

Political Prisoners (Repression: imprisonment)

Control of environmental Resources (Boycott, trade embargoes, appeal to human rights)

23 October – 6 November

Organizing, defending rights, broad participation, gender

International Conference of Saharawi Women Right for Resistance taking place in Namibia 3 November 2013

The conference is intended to identify strategic actions that promote the cause of rights for resistance of Western Sahara women. Sponsored by the Panafrican Women Organisation (PAWO), the event was opened by the Namibian deputy minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare. In addition to Angola and host Namibia, the event is being attended by representatives from South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, Libya, Algeria, Western Sahara and Zimbabwe, including European Parliament officials.

Political Prisoners (Repression: imprisonment)

Morocco: Free or Retry 21 Sahrawis Jailed 5 Years Ago 5 November 2015- Human Rights Watch

Joint Call by Rights Groups on Anniversary of Clashes

Moroccan authorities should free all 21 prisoners serving long terms stemming from the 2010 Western Sahara protests that turned deadly, or grant them a fair trial before a civilian court, and investigate all torture allegations, four human rights organizations said today.

Meet the Gdeim Izik 25
25 brave Saharawi men protested Morocco’s blatant disrespect for the fundamental human, social and economic rights of the people it holds under occupation. 25 heroes showed the world how Morocco deals with those opposing its illegal presence in Western Sahara. We must stand together to get them released. These are the Gdeim Izik 25.

40 years of hurt: The never-ending scandal of the Western Sahara 5 November 2015, by Richard Dowden Director of the Royal African Society

For Africa, the UN and the powers in the Security Council, the ongoing occupation of the Western Sahara is an embarrassment. For Saharwis, it’s a profound injustice.

Week 1: 16 to 23 October

Protest (Public Assembly, symbolic public acts, slogans, singing. Repression: direct physical violence, control of information)

Moroccan security forces crack down peaceful demonstration in occupied El Aaiun

“The Moroccan security forces violently dispersed a peaceful demonstration organized by dozens of Sahrawi in the city of El Aaiun (occupied Western Sahara) to demand the holding of a referendum of self-determination and the immediate release of all Saharawi political prisoners.”

 

Political Prisoners (Repression: imprisonment

There were reports of imprisoned peaceful protesters and activists facing harsh conditions, and protest against these situations.

Western Sahara: Saharawi Political Prisoner Mothers in Occupied Dajla Demand the Release of Their Sons

In the townof Daila (occupied Western Sahara)  a protest is held by mothers of Saharawi political prisoners “for the immediate release of their sons without conditions or excuses.” The mothers also called for and end to harsh sentencing. The prisoners were arrested for protesting for the right to self-determination.

Western Sahara: Moroccan Authorities Arrest Two Former Saharawi Political Prisoners

Two former Saharawi political prisoners are arrested in the town of El Aaiun  (Morocco),  one is  released and the other transfered to prision in El Aaiun (occupied Western Sahara).

Western Sahara: A Saharawi Political Prisoner Began a Hunger Strike

On 28 September a Saharawi political prisoner (who was arrested in November 2010 and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment by a military court ) began a hunger strike while in prison in Morocco due to poor medical and health access conditions.

Control of environmental Resources (Legal recourses, trade embargoes, appeal to human rights)

Legal proceedings:

Western Sahara goes to Europe

A Western Sahara NGO brought a case to London’s Administrative Court to challenge to two EU measures concerning Morocco. 1) a “preferential tariff  applicable to imports from Morocco of goods originating from the Western Sahara”. 2) a fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco in the territorial waters of Western Sahara.

The underlying complaint by the Western Sahara NGO is that both EU measures fail to distinguish between the sovereign territory of Morocco and Western Sahara, as they should, given that Morocco’s occupation is in breach of the principles of international law and the UN Charter governing the right of self-determination.

High Court judgment rules West Sahara trade dispute should go to European Court of Justice

In his judgment; The Hon Mr Justice Blake noted, “reports of discrimination in the field of business and employment and political expression against indigenous Saharans in favour of Moroccan nationals who have moved into the territory since 1975”.

Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day who is representing the WSCUK said:

“We are very pleased this important issue will now be considered by the Court of Justice. There is clear evidence that Morocco has been unlawfully exporting goods to the UK from land and sea it occupies in Western Sahara.

“The people of Western Sahara are being denied their right to self-determination, including in relation to their natural resources. This cannot be allowed to continue.”

Resistance to resource exploitation: 

There were large demonstrations and significant on-line resistance activism due to new resource exploitation issues, with an Irish company defying international law to start oil drilling in the coastal waters of Western Sahara  ans well as deals tuna fishing.

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