16 June 2017
For 45 days now, the large motor vessel NM Cherry Blossom has been detained in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. On 15 June 2017, the High Court in the country found that the ship, carrying conflict minerals from occupied Western Sahara, is to remain there until a trial concludes on the real ownership of the cargo.
Which shipping company could be the next in having a vessel detained?
A new report published by WSRW today reveals the names of around 100 shipping companies behind the transport of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara in 2016 and 2017.
Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) today launches the first ever report to systematically outline the owners and operators of the vessels that transport the controversial phosphate to clients overseas. The export is done by Morocco, the occupying power. The report’s annex refers to around 100 shipping companies that took part in such transports from the territory from 1 January 2016 to 9 June 2017.
Download the 36-page report ‘Carriers of Conflict’ here.
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.
Middle Eastern Eye
Eugenio G. Delgado
12 June 2017
A young female entrepreneur from a Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria has opened the first pizzeria run only by women.
Hindu Mani is the first Sahrawi woman to open a pizzeria in the Sahrawi refugee camps, around 50 kilometres from the Algerian city of Tindouf (MEE/Eugenio G. Delgado)
TINDOUF, Algeria – As she pulls up in a 1989 white Mercedes Benz 190, all eyes are on 26-year-old Hindu Mani, a Sahrawi refugee.
Women driving in the Sahrawi refugee camps, 50 kilometres from the Algerian city of Tindouf, is a rarity, but it is not the only thing Mani has gained notoriety for. With a staff of four women, Mani runs the only Sahrawi pizzeria in the camps.
Hindu Mani delivers pizzas with her 1989 white Mercedes Benz in Aswerd camp, around 50 kilometres from the Algerian city of Tindouf (MEE/Eugenio G. Delgado)
“From the beginning I thought of [opening a pizzeria] with the idea of empowering young Sahrawi women who have been unable to [finish] their studies or work,” Mani said.
Sahara Press Service
Bir Lehlou 29 May 2017
The Frente POLISARIO has “strongly” condemned the proposal of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union is expected to decide on, for a mandate to negotiate a revision of the 2000 EU-Morocco Association Agreement, which would include Moroccan products originating illegally in Western Sahara under the trade preferences of that Agreement.
The Frente POLISARIO affirmed in a statement on Sunday “As the UN-recognised representative of the people of Western Sahara, the Frente POLISARIO strongly condemns this new proposal of the European Commission, which, if endorsed by the Council of the European Union, would violate both the ruling of the EU Court and fundamental tenets of international law.” Continue reading
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.
Rabat, Morocco 17 May 2017
To whomever it may concern,
STATEMENT CONCERNING THE PROCEEDINGS HELD AGAINST THE GROUP GDEIM IZIK AT THE APPEAL COURT OF SALE ON THE 15TH AND 16TH OF MAY 2017
The group of Gdeim Izik commenced Monday the 15th of May to express their discontent towards the court. The detainees held large protest within the court facilities, and demanded that the basic principles of a fair trial must be respected. The accused uttered that the proceedings against them constitutes nothing more than a theater, and they showed their discontent concerning the civil party which is taking an active part in the proceedings without being a formal part in the proceedings. The detainees withdrew themselves from the proceedings, along with their defense attorneys, on the 16th of May. Continue reading
The detention of a cargo of phosphate rock destined for New Zealand from occupied Western Sahara
Sydney, Australia 8 May 2017
Port for phospate export from the Bou Craa mine, near Laayoune Marsa Boujdour in Western Sahara, 11th March 2013. Photo: jbdodane via Flickr (CC BY-NC).
On Monday May 1, the government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR) and the Saharawi national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, took action to detain pursuant to a court order a cargo of phosphate illegally exported from occupied Western Sahara. The cargo, intercepted in South Africa while en route to Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited in New Zealand, has a value of more than $7 million (NZD).
The cargo remains aboard the Marshall Islands registered bulk carrier NM Cherry Blossom at anchor in a South African port. Ballance Agri-Nutrients has not requested the release of the cargo to enable the vessel to continue its journey to New Zealand. Continue reading