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.
Stefan Simanowitz for Voices of Africa, part of the Guardian Africa network
As the great and the good of the world’s film industry prepared to descend on Cannes last week, a very different film festival was coming to a climax deep in the Sahara desert.
Far from the red-carpeted Mediterranean opulence of the Croisette, theSahara International Film Festival – known as FiSahara – took place in a sun-baked refugee camp deep in the Algerian desert. What it may have lacked in glittering VIP premieres and champagne-fuelled yacht parties, FiSahara made up for in spades with dune parties, camel races and multiplex-sized screenings beneath the stars.
STORY BY DAVID CONRAD
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICAH ALBERT
After 40 years of fighting in the desert for their unrecognized country, the people of Western Sahara may be on the cusp of collapsing into extremism — and it could be the thing that saves them.
IN A FORSAKEN TOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF SOUTHWESTERN ALGERIA’S HARSH SAHARA DESERT, BACHIR MEHDI STANDS IN THE ROAD AS A RUSTED TOYOTA LAND CRUISER SPEEDS IN HIS DIRECTION.
An anti-aircraft gun is mounted to the truck’s bed, where five young soldiers, dressed in loosely worn combat fatigues, the insignias torn off, are sitting with Soviet-manufactured guns strapped to their shoulders. Read the rest of this entry »
By AIDA ALAMIJUNE 11, 2014
RABAT, Morocco — A few weeks shy of his 15th anniversary as Morocco’s ruler, King Mohammed VI was spotted on the streets of Tunisia in jeans and a T-shirt while on an official visit, living up to the King of Cool nickname given to him by the foreign news media.
Back in the kingdom, however, tensions have been rising. Pro-democracy activists and journalists have faced increasing repression, as the government tries to tame an opposition emboldened by the 2011 Arab revolutions.
Read the rest of this entry »
P for Phosphate – P for Plunder - Morocco’s exports of phosphate from occupied Western Sahara and Australia’s controversial importsJune 20th, 2014
A report, launched on 13 June by Western Sahara Resource Watch, reveals that Australia now has just one importer of the controversial phosphate: Incitec Pivot.
Incitec Pivot Limited is one of ten companies on the P for Plunder report’s red list of companies involved in this unethical trade, spending US$11million per annum on the high-grade phosphate to use in the production of superphosphate fertilisers. By coincidence, it is currently receiving yet another phosphate shipment from Western Sahara in Geelong on board the Western FedoraWesfarmers/CSBP is on the orange list of “companies under observation”. This is because although it has put its imports on hold for the past 2 years, it has reserved the right to make a commercial decision to resume if need be. Read the rest of this entry »
GREGOR HEARD for Stock Journal
14 Jun, 2014
INCITEC Pivot (IPL) has come under fire from an independence group from the disputed territory of Western Sahara in Africa for continuing to buy phosphate from Morocco that originates from the north-west African state.
Kamal Fadel, a spokesman for the Polisario Front, a group dedicated to Western Saharan independence, claims IPL is in violation of international law by continuing to purchase phosphate from Morocco, which he claims extracts the phosphate from Western Sahara illegally. Read the rest of this entry »
Statement of the Saharawi Republic concerning Incitec Pivot Limited and the trade in phosphate rock from occupied Western SaharaJune 12th, 2014
In 2013 IPL imported two shipments of phosphate mineral rock from occupied Western Sahara, valued at approximately $ AUS 12 million. Such shipments have been routinely protested by the SADR, and despite them, continue to arrive in Australia. Western Sahara remains illegally occupied by Morocco, contrary to declarations of the United Nations General Assembly and a 1975 determination of the International Court of Justice. No state recognizes Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara and all countries are under a positive duty to support the self-determination of the Saharawi people. As the original inhabitants of the territory until its invasion, the Saharawi people have exclusive sovereign rights to phosphate, a non-renewable resource, and have continuously called for an end to its taking. Read the rest of this entry »
The Australian Fertiliser company, Incitec Pivot (IPL), has been involved in the exploitation of Western Sahara phosphates for many years in violation of international law.
IPL latest shipment of phosphates from Western Sahara is due to arrive at Geelong on 12 June 2014 on board the Cypriot flagged bulk carrier Western Fedora vessel.
The cargo is estimated to be worth about US $4 million.
The Polisario Front (Western Sahara independence movement) Representative to Australia, Fadel Kamal, “deplored IPL illegal and unethical exploitation of phosphates from Western Sahara through deals made with the authoritarian regime in Morocco which illegally occupies the Territory and oppresses its people.” Read the rest of this entry »
“I’m going to Dakhla,” I told my close friends and family. Without any further clarification, Dakhla could mean different things to different people. For Sahrawi refugees, those who fled the Western Sahara conflict in the 1970s and 1980s, Dakhla usually refers to the most remote of the four major refugee camps outside of Tindouf in southern Algeria.
For most others, Dakhla refers to the city in the non-self governing territory of the Western Sahara, currently under Moroccan control. As a journalist, however, my going to the Dakhla refugee camp aroused an existential fear among friends and family, who were largely informed by the Moroccan narrative on how dangerous the Polisario-controlled refugee camps were – especially for a Moroccan woman. Read the rest of this entry »
Saharawi representative tells UN Seminar that the Special Committee on Decolonisation must do much more to bring about the decolonisation of Western SaharaMay 28th, 2014
The issue of Western Sahara was discussed during the UN Special Committee on Decolonization 2014 Pacific Regional Seminar which was held in Nadi, Fiji, from 21 to 23 May with a view to accelerating action in implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020).
The Saharawi representative Fadel Kamal pointed out that “51 years had passed since the Territory had been placed on the Special Committee’s list as Africa’s last colony.” He underlined that the Saharawi people are frustrated that the United Nations has not done more to fulfil this responsibility and that heir legitimate aspirations remain unfulfilled, while Morocco continues to obstruct the UN’s political process, exploit Western Sahara’s natural resources, and violate the fundamental human rights of the Saharawi people.”