The Moroccan state company OCP has decided to drop defending the detained conflict mineral cargo in South Africa. The Saharawi people thus won a 5 million USD walk-over victory before the trial over phosphate rock ownership even had begun.
On 1 May 2017, the bulk vessel NM Cherry Blossom was detained in Port Elizabeth, on a stop-over to New Zealand. The vessel contained 55.000 tonnes of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara.
The UN has concluded that any exploitation of resources in Western Sahara would be illegal if the Saharawi people do not consent to it. Similarly, the Court of Justice of the EU on 21 December 2016 judged that trading with the territory would be illegal without such consent. However, Morocco, illegally occupying parts of Western Sahara since 1975, has kept the exports of Western Sahara phosphate rock. In 2016, Morocco earned over 200 million USD from the rock export from the territory.
The second biggest importing country is New Zealand, where two farmer co-operatives import from the occupied territory.
Bir Lehlu Western Sahara
13 July 2017
The government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR) and the Saharawi national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, welcomed an announcement today that there would be no further defence of a case by Morocco’s state company OCP SA over a cargo of phosphate mineral rock detained under court order in South Africa.
The 55,000 tonne cargo had been illegally exported from occupied Western Sahara in April for delivery to the New Zealand fertilizer company Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited. Carried aboard the m.v. NM Cherry Blossom, it was detained on May 1 under a civil court order after an application by Saharawi authorities in South Africa’s High Court. On June 15, the Court determined that the claim should proceed to a full trial, noting that the Saharawi government had prima facie ownership of the cargo. A copy of the decision in Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and Another v Owner and Charterers of the MV ‘NM Cherry Blossom’ and Others  ZAECPEHC 31 is available at: <www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAECPEHC/2017/31.html>.
Equip Media EMSahara
9 June 2017
Monday, June 5th 2017. The trial of the Saharawi political prisoners of the Gdeim Izik group opened before the Court of Appeal in Salé – Morocco. activists for the independence of Western Sahara and Human rights defenders , but also the lawyers by their absence protest against this unfair trial whose first hearings were held on March 13th 2017 after months of postponements.
On June 6th, in the space authorized for the Saharawi demonstrations, surrounded by the hubbub of Moroccan sound systems friends of Sid Ahmed Lamjayed sentenced to life imprisonment expressed their support and demands, among 80 other demonstrators.
On the panels we could read “Agrium shame on you”, “The phosphate is Sahrawi, and it belongs to our people”.
Sid Ahmed Lamjayed is the president of the CSPRON The committee to support the peace settlement and to protect the natural resources in Western Sahara. Continue reading
15 June 2017
A panel of judges in South Africa ruled today that the detention of NM Cherry Blossom on 1 May 2017 was correct.
The Western Sahara people has thus passed the first hurdle in the legal process to win ownership over a cargo of phosphate rock that Morocco has tried to export from the territory that it holds under occupation.
“The ICJ’s judgement is clear: Morocco has no claim to sovereignty over Western Sahara. Its claim as result of its occupation of the territory is incompatible with the status of Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory. Furthermore, it acquired control of the territory by force. This, as a means of acquiring sovereignty, is contrary to customary international law”, the judges stated.
A panel of judges in the High Court in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, judged this morning that the cargo on board the vessel NM Cherry Blossom is rightfully detained, and that a trial to determine its ownership is to take place.
The court decided that the sheriff is “directed and authorised to remove the ship’s registration documents and trading certificates” until the case is settled.
Statement of the Saharawi government following the decision of the High Court of South Africa in the continuing detention of a cargo of phosphate rock for New Zealand from occupied Western Sahara
Bir Lehlu, Western Sahara (June 15, 2017). On May 1 the government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR) and the Saharawi national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, obtained a civil court order to detain a cargo of phosphate mineral rock transiting through South Africa, illegally exported from occupied Western Sahara in April. The 54,000 metric tonnes cargo, purchased by the New Zealand fertilizer company Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited, has a value estimated at more than $7 million (NZD).
After 45 days, the cargo remains under detention aboard the Marshall Islands registered bulk carrier NM Cherry Blossom at anchor in Port Elizabeth.
Today the High Court of South Africa issued a decision on a review of the May 1 order to detain the cargo. This procedural step was routine in South Africa’s civil justice system. The Court confirmed the correctness of the May 1 order, that it had been obtained on proper grounds. The civil lawsuit will now go to a trial on the question of ownership rights to the cargo. Over the years, virtually every phosphate purchasing company had been warned of the risks of importing the commodity, including that ownership rights to it could not be transferred because of the illegal occupation of Western Sahara.
Western Sahara Resource Watch
30 May 2017
Above: The tank vessel Key Bay seen in the harbor of El Aaiun on 6 January 2017 – the first confirmed transport of goods from Western Sahara into the EU after the landmark judgment of the CJEU.
On 21 December 2016, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) judged that EU-Morocco trade deals cannot include the territory of Western Sahara.
Yet, the EU Commission has been pushing hard the EU member states to ignore that judgement. And in spite of vocal opposition from the UN-recognised representative of the people of Western Sahara – the Polisario Front – this morning, EU member states gave their green light to the Commission to start talks with Morocco for Western Sahara trade. Continue reading
Media release – Communiqué
The detention of a vessel carrying a cargo of phosphate rock destined for Canada from occupied Western Sahara.
Bir Lehlu, Western Sahara (18 May 2017).
The government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR) and the Saharawi national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, announced today the detention of a second vessel carrying a cargo of phosphate rock illegally mined and sold from occupied Western Sahara. The motor vessel Ultra Innovation, was detained last night in Panama under court order while transiting the Panama Canal en route to Canada.
Democracy in Action
22 May 2017
my brothers and sisters,
is not for sale.
The green of my land,
makes me proud,
as the beauty of its pastures,
in the eyes of the good shepherd.
The phosphates you desire,
they will cause you harm,
not even if they were for sale,
will you be able to buy them.
So go the first lines of a poem by Fatma Brahim, who composed the work in 1976 as she and her daughters left the destroyed refugee camp of Um Dreiga, Western Sahara, after the Moroccan air force napalmed it. The poem, titled “Sahara is not for sale,” has become a classic revolutionary song for Saharawis, who are still pursuing their struggle for independence. It succinctly draws attention to a central aspect of the Western Sahara conflict, and an increasingly key demand made by Saharawi pro-independence activists: natural resources.
The South African High Court has banned the Cherry Blossom, and its $US5 million ($6.7m) cargo of phosphate rock, from leaving Port Elizabeth
9 May 2017
In South Africa, the independence dreams of Western Saharan tribespeople, 55,000 tonnes of phosphate and a ship called the Cherry Blossom have come together in court to create big problems for Australian chemicals and fertiliser group Incitec Pivot. Continue Reading –
10 May 2017
Mark Wynne is the CEO of Balance Agri-Nutrients, a New Zealand fertilizer company that imports hundreds of thousands of tonnes of phosphate every year from an illegal mine in a brutally occupied territory called Western Sahara. Fortunately for Mark, the Western Sahara is in north-west Africa, which is not a part of the world New Zealanders spend much time thinking about, despite the fact that our primary export industry is currently built upon on this deeply unethical trading relationship. Such ignorance means that when a vessel carrying Saharan phosphate is stopped – as happened last week in Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Mark can throw up his hands, claim that the Western Sahara situation is “very complex” and “deep-running” and (I’m not making this up) “geopolitical,” and thereby avoid having to explain to New Zealanders why it is okay that his company buys millions of dollars worth of illegal phosphate every year. Continue Reading –