Press Release, 01 February 2008
Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA)
The Australia Wester Sahara Association (AWSA) applauds the decision of Öhman Funds from Sweden to divest from the Australian phosphate company CSBP (Wesfarmers) due to its imports of phosphate rock from the occupied Western Sahara. According to the Swedish bank Öhman Funds which decided in December 2007 to divest from CSBP (Wesfarmers), its decision is due to the “violation of central UN resolutions and other international regulations” by the Australian company.
The decision of Öhman comes after a similar decision by the Norwegian insurance company KPA, which decided in December 2007 to divest from Wesfarmers because of its import of phosphates from the occupied Western Sahara, which goes against the ethical policy of the Norwegian company: http://awsa.org.au/?p=251
The involvement of the Australian companies, (Wesfarmers, Incitec Pivot and Impact Fertilisers), in Western Sahara is harming Australia’s reputation in the world , and is in spite of several appeals by AWSA during the past two years to reconsider their position towards dealing in the stolen goods of Western Sahara.
According to Human Rights Watch: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/01/07/morocc17691.htm, Morocco continues to violate human rights in Western Sahara. Amnesty International has also condemned Morocco’s abuse of human rights in Western Sahara: http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/middle-east-and-north-africa/north-africa/moroccowestern-sahara . The UN has said that the exploitation of the resources of the Territory against the wishes of its indigenous people is illegal: http://www.arso.org/UNlegaladv.htm
It is clear that the UN has stated that the exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara is illegal. It is also evident that international human rights organisations have confirmed the violations of human rights by Morocco in the occupied areas where phosphates are mined. It is also likely that those who benefit from the sale of the phosphate are the King, his cronies and the Moroccan army Generals.
AWSA urges shareholders to influence CSBP (Wesfarmers), Incitec Pivot and Impact Fertilisers to stop their importation of phosphates from Western Sahara. The Australian public has also a duty as they consume food that is produced by phosphates imported from Western Sahara. The Australian companies’ ethical, legal and moral policies are being compromised because of the involvement of the companies in Western Sahara.
AWSA calls on the Australian Labor Government to do the right thing and take a positive and courageous stance in asking the Australian companies put an end to their trade in the resources of an illegally occupied territory, Western Sahara, where basic human rights are violated by the brutal regime of Morocco. The involvement of Australian companies in Western Sahara is not only causing further suffering to the Saharawi people but is also damaging Australia’s reputation and standing in the international arena.
For further information: <http://wsrw.org/index.php?parse_news=single&cat=105&art=658>
To contact AWSA:
Phone: Cate Lewis: 0407 288 358 or Georgia Vlassopoulos: 0425702975