Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA) is an incorporated non-profit Association which was set up to raise awareness and promote the Saharawi cause in Australia, and to campaign for a free and fair referendum on self-determination for the Saharawi people.

The independence struggle in Western Sahara mirrors almost exactly that of the East Timorese. In 1975 when the colonial power Spain withdrew, the neighbouring country, Morocco, invaded. A war ensued until a UN sponsored ceasefire was declared in 1991 when a referendum was promised.
Despite UN pressure Morocco refuses to agree to a referendum.

Western Sahara: Significant resolution achieved at ALP conference, Melbourne 2015

July 27th, 2015

654.jpegAt the ALP conference held in Melbourne 24-26 July 2015 the following resolution was passed:

This conference:

• Strongly supports the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination;
• Expresses concerns about reports of human rights abuses in Western Sahara, including by Human Rights Watch and Resolution 282 moved this year by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
• Calls on all parties to work with the international community to develop and implement independent and credible measures to ensure full respect for human rights, bearing in mind their relevant obligations under international law;
• Urges the UN to use its mission in Western Sahara to monitor and uphold human rights, and ensure that any use of the natural resources of Western Sahara is in accordance with the wishes of the Saharawi people and for their benefit;
• Calls on the UN to proceed without further delay with the organisation of the long overdue referendum of self-determination;
• Urges the Australian Government to extend all due assistance to the UN in its efforts to organise a free and fair referendum in Western Sahara, and to maintain an appropriate dialogue with the Polisario Front, UN-acknowledged representatives of the people of Western Sahara.

Kerry Kennedy: Morocco has pressured UN to ignore Western Sahara

July 25th, 2015

The Guardian, Global development professionals network
23 July 2015
By Kerry Kennedy

The president of Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights accuses Moroccan government of widespread abuses in Western Sahara

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Total’s oil exploration in Western Sahara illegal, says Sahrawis

July 25th, 2015

Podcast 9 June 2015, RFI \By Laura Angela Bagnetto

In the Western Sahara, Total, the French oil and petroleum company, have returned to the occupied territory of the Western Sahara to look for oil through contracts signed with the Moroccan government.

Podcast

Trade Agreements, EU Law, and Occupied Territories – A Report on Polisario v Council

July 25th, 2015

EJIL Analysis, July 1, 2015
Geraldo Vidigal, Senior Research Fellow at the Department of International Law and Dispute Resolution of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg

Vidigal writes “Speaking of occupied territories, an interesting judgment should soon come from the General Court of the European Union (GC) in Action for Annulment Frente Polisario v Council (Case T-512/12), a case with fascinating international law aspects. I attended the hearing last week and think it warrants a report….(cont.)”

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Saharawi women take to the streets

July 25th, 2015

By Karlos Zurutuza
Inter Press Service News Agency

LAAYOUNE, Occupied Western Sahara, Jul 17 2015 (IPS) - Ten women are gathered to discuss how to transmit Sahrawi culture and tradition to the younger generations. As usual, it´s a secret meeting. There is no other way in the capital of Western Sahara.

Rabab Lamin chose the place and the date for this latest meeting of the Forum for the Future of Sahrawi Women, an underground organisation yet seemingly far from being disorganised.

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Leaked cables: Morocco lobbied UN to turn blind eye

June 25th, 2015

Leaked cables: Morocco lobbied UN to turn blind eye to Western Sahara in ‘House of Cards’ operation
Joe Sandler Clarke and Katherine Purvis
The Guardian, Wednesday 17 June 2015

The Moroccan government intercepted United Nations communications and used “unethical tactics” in a “House of Cards”-style operation designed to get the organisation to turn a blind eye to the humanitarian situation in Western Sahara, according to a leaked UN report.
The leaked report is a UN analysis of correspondence between the Moroccan government and the country’s permanent ambassador to the UN in Geneva and later New York, Omar Hilale, in the period from January 2012 to September 2014.

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Amnesty International’s report cites widespread torture and violence used by Moroccan forces

May 30th, 2015

19 May 2015:
Amnesty International has published its report ‘Shadow of Impunity : Torture in Morocco and Western Sahara’

“Beatings, stress positions, asphyxiation, simulated drowning, psychological and sexual violence are among an array of torture techniques used by Moroccan security forces to extract “confessions” to crimes or silence activists and crush dissent, according to a new Amnesty International report published today.”

Summary and Report >>

ACTU resolution on Western Sahara adopted on 28/5/2015

May 30th, 2015

At the ACTU Congress today, 28 May, a resolution was passed on Western Sahara

The Australian Council of Trade Unions notes that
•             Morocco has occupied Western Sahara since 1975
•             UN efforts to accomplish the decolonisation process in Western Sahara have not been successful;
•             Around 165,000 Saharawis continue to live in dire conditions in refugee camps in South West of Algeria;
•             Saharawis in the occupied areas endure human rights abuses and denial of their basic rights;
•             The only just, legal and lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, is to end the Moroccan illegal occupation and allow the Sahara people to exercise their right to self-determination, in accordance with the UN decolonisation doctrine;
Congress:
•             Strongly supports the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence;
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243 organisations ask UN to condemn Morocco’s colonial oil plans

April 19th, 2015

protest_camps_natural_resources_hr_full.jpgThis letter was sent on 15 April 2015 to the President of the UN Security Council, HE Dina Kawar, Ambassador of Jordan to the United Nations, with a request for circulation among the Members of the Council.
“No oil drilling should take place in the territory until the Saharawis have had the chance to exercise their right to self-determination and have freely and fairly decided the political status of their homeland”, the appeal to the Security Council writes…

AWSA is one of the signatories of this open letter to the Security Council: Read the Letter and list of signatories

Norwegian report: Acting with Impunity - Morocco’s Human Rights Violations in Western Sahara

April 17th, 2015

Acting with Impunity - Morocco’s Human Rights Violations in Western Sahara and the Silence of the International Community
SAIH, the Norwegian Students and Academics International Assistance Fund
13 April 2015

This excellent report examines the human rights abuses committed in Western Sahara since April 1 2014 until March 1 2015. Based on 163 documented cases, 256 different human rights violations have been reported, involving 283 named victims.
The report concludes that the continued gross human rights violations committed in occupied Western Sahara illustrate the total inadequacy of Morocco’s national human rights framework. Whilst UN Special Procedures, which involve short and infrequent visits by UN rights experts to Western Sahara, are important, they are insufficient.

Press Release >>

Download Report: Acting with Impunity >>

Read the extended annex >>