Yearly Archives: 2020

The Continued Irresolution of the Conflict of Western Sahara

The Continued Irresolution of the Conflict of Western Sahara: The Right to Self-determination vs. Realpolitik

Dr Sidi M. Omadetermination vs. Realpolitik

Dr Sidi M. Omar, Frente POLISARIO Representative at the United Nations
Sahara Press Service, 27 June 2020

“Today peoples of many erstwhile colonies enjoy their freedom and independence, yet unfortunately colonialism is far from over. At present, there are 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories whose peoples have not yet exercised their right to self-determination and independence including Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa, on the UN list of Non-SelfGoverning Territories since 1963. …. (cont.)

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Refugee Week 2020: Youtube Q&A on Western Sahara

To mark Refugee Week 2020, we came together for a virtual ‘Watch Party’ of the film “Sirocco: Winds of Resistance”, followed by a Q&A panel.

You can watch the Q&A panel discussion at the Youtube link here

Thank you to our special guests Kamal Fadel, Meredith Burgmann, and Randi Irwin for joining the AWSA community in the online webinar! And thank you to everyone who came along to celebrate the long and continuing struggle of the Saharawi people for freedom and independence! It was a fascinating discussion on the COVID-19 lock-down in the refugee camps, the current state-of-play in the international community regarding the long-promised referendum, and what Australia can do to support Saharawi independence.

The people of Western Sahara are Africa’s forgotten refugees

Eyewitness News, June 2020

EWN, Eyewitness News, Opinion,  June 2020
By Catherine Constantinides, international climate and social justice activist and human rights defender and
Vitalio Angula, socio-political commentator and independent columnist

World Refugee Day was held globally for the first time on 20 June 2001, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. It was originally known as Africa Refugee Day, before the United Nations General Assembly officially designated it as an international day in December 2000.
Each year, World Refugee Day is marked by a variety of events in many countries around the globe in support of refugees.
The people of Western Sahara continue to be the forgotten people of Africa and the world.

(read EWN article….)

Open letter to UN from Geneva Group of NGOs supporting Saharawi human rights

Saharawis were alarmed to discover that the Moroccan ambassador to the UN, Omar Hilale, had been appointed by the UN to oversee human rights treaties. He will work jointly with the Swiss ambassador, Valentin Zellweger, on how to strengthen human rights treaty bodies of the United Nations.

The open letter from the NGOs Support Group for Human Rights in Geneva was made public on Friday 17 April protesting Hilale’s appointment.
It details why Omar Hilale is certainly not the right man for this job. Firstly a country which is occupying another country in violation of international law should not be entrusted with such work. Secondly, Morocco was found by a UN rapporteur to have imposed lengthy prison sentences on Saharawis based on “ “confessions” extracted under torture and has not investigated the claims as required to do.

16 April 2020 Open Letter to UNGA President

The Geneva support group for Saharawis’ human rights also issued a press release to mark International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. It includes the full list of AWSA co-signatories from 210 organisations belonging to the Geneva group.
Press release: 200324 PR Intl. Day Truth-Victims

March 24 – UN International Day for the Right to the Truth about Gross Violations of Human Rights and for the Dignity of the Victims

On this day the Australia Western Sahara Association honours the resilience of the people of Western Sahara in their peaceful struggle for self-determination and independence.  

AWSA has joined with the Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara in calling for United Nations processes for holding the referendum for self-determination be re-activated. Importantly, on this international day, the UN must commit to the monitoring of violations of human rights in the Occupied Territory of Western Sahara and reporting the truth about such abuses, including enforced disappearances.

News release issued 24 March 2020 by the Geneva Support Group

In Victoria the AWU and councils observe Western Sahara’s National Day

Western Sahara flag is raised at Richmond Town Hall

27 February 2020 was the 44th anniversary of the declaration of the Saharawi Republic.
The Australian Workers’ Union – Victorian Branch proudly observed Western Sahara’s National Day with the Saharawi flag raised high.

Western Sahara National Day was also marked on Thursday 27th Feb with the raising of the Saharawi flag at Richmond Town Hall, VIC.

Sydney AWSA raises the flag at Leichhardt Town Hall to commemorate Saharawi National Day on 27 February

Leichhardt Town Hall flag raising ceremony [Image: Bill Hawker, 2020]

Thursday 27 February marked the 44th anniversary of the declaration of the Saharawi Republic.

In recognition of this anniversary the flag of Western Sahara was raised in solidarity at Leichhardt Town Hall by Jamie Parker MP.

Also attending the flag-raising ceremony were Kamal Fadel (Polisario Representative Australia and New Zealand), Lesley Osborne (Secretary of the Australia Western Sahara Association, AWSA) and members of AWSA.

Aminatou Haidar announced as a Laureate in the 2019 Rights Livelihood Award

The Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
Press Release, Stockholm, 25 September 2019

The 2019 Award goes to Aminatou Haidar (Western Sahara), Guo Jianmei (China), Greta Thunberg (Sweden) and Davi Kopenawa / Hutukara Yanomami Association (Brazil).
The Laureates were announced in Stockholm, Sweden, on 25 September 2019 at a press conference at the International Press Centre at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation, commented: “With the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, we honour four practical visionaries whose leadership has empowered millions of people to defend their inalienable rights and to strive for a liveable future for all on planet Earth.

Rights Livelihood Award announcement

BBC interview, Business Daily: The conflict mineral that feeds the world

Morocco dominates phosphate fertilisers thanks to its disputed control of Western Sahara
Matt Davies, BBC Sounds podcast: Business Daily.  31 Dec 2019

Matt Davies travels to Morocco to speak to Nada Elmajdoub, an executive at the national phosphate company OCP. He also hears from Mohamed Kamal Fadel, a spokesperson for the Polisario Front, which is bringing legal challenges against Morocco’s phosphate exports in its bid to win independence for Western Sahara; Professor Stuart White of the University of Technology Sydney questions the sustainability of the planet’s usage of mined phosphates to boost crop yields, plus Stephen Zunes, a professor of Middle East politics at the University of San Francisco, explains the history of the Western Sahara conflict and how Morocco gained the upper hand.

BBC Business Daily podcast