Prepared for the Australia Western Sahara Association online panel event Tuesday 12 October 2021
“First of all I would like to thank AWSA for organisation this event and also all the speakers for their time. Thanks also to all those who joined us over Zoom and Facebook from all around the world. This event is being held on an important day for the people of Western Sahara as 46 years ago on 12 October 1975, Saharawi members of the Spanish Parliament, Chiefs and elders as Polisraio leaders and member met to express their unity behind Polisario as their sole representative and their desire to achieve independence….” (cont.) Download statement by Kamal Fadel
“MAHBAS REGION, Western Sahara — As a glowing sun sank behind the sandy barrier that cuts across the disputed territory of Western Sahara, Sidati Ahmed’s battalion launched two missiles that sizzled through the air and then followed with an artillery attack. Within minutes, a barrage of mortar shells flew in the opposite direction, from Moroccan positions, landing with a thick column of smoke in the barren desert of what is known as Africa’s last colony” (cont….)
by David Sutton, Australian War Memorial Blog , 6 September 2021
On 6 September 1991 a group of Australian signallers in the remote Western Sahara desert strung an antenna to the roof of their hotel room, connected it to two “very sad looking” Moroccan radios in the Australian contingent commander’s bedroom, and established the Force Headquarters Radio Room for a major United Nations peacekeeping operation. It was an unglamorous start to Operation Cedilla, Australia’s contribution to the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). The rudimentary technical conditions were short lived….(cont.)
The report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2548 (2020), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2021.
The Secretary-Generaal notes that the situation in Western Sahara has significantly deteriorated since his previous report. The resumption of hostilities between Morocco and the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguía el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (Frente POLISARIO) and the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have considerably changed the operational environment of MINURSO, limiting the Mission’s ability to implement its mandate. (cont.)
The letter dated October 14, 2021 from a group of US Senators urges the State Department to prioritize engagement with the Moroccan government about human rights abuses, …
October 14, 2021 The letter concludes: “The United States must be an advocate for human rights around the world. Yet, concerning abuses by Moroccan authorities, especially against Sahrawis, the administration has said little publicly. We urge you to reaffirm the right of the people of Western Sahara to self- determination, and to advocate for the release of political prisoners and protect freedom of expression for every Moroccan and Sahrawi.”
By Souhail Karam | Bloomberg The Washington Post, September 30, 2021
In November 2020, the Polisario ditched a 30-year cease-fire with Morocco. The severing of diplomatic ties in August between Morocco and Algeria, Polisario’s historic backer, could escalate the tension. A ruling by a European Union court in September enforcing the bloc’s legal positions on Western Sahara as a separate and distinct territory from Morocco served to highlight the importance of finding a political solution to the crisis.
The Press release stressed that “the only way forward to achieve a peaceful, just, and enduring solution to the decolonisation of Western Sahara is to enable the Sahrawi people to exercise freely and democratically their inalienable and non-negotiable right to self-determination and independence in accordance with the precepts of international legality and relevant resolutions of the United Nations and the African Union.”
On September 29, the General Court of the European Union issued a landmark ruling, one of significant importance in international law for Western Sahara. Western Sahara is Africa’s last colony, occupied illegally by Morocco since 1975, and even in the face of a UN administered self-determination referendum agreed upon in 1991. New Zealand is a large-scale importer of high-quality phosphate rock from Western Sahara. In 2017-18, the High Court of South Africa noted that the Saharawi people are the rightful owner of the resource.
Today, the EU Court of Justice has struck a blow to the EU’s practice of applying trade and fisheries agreements with Morocco to occupied Western Sahara.
The press release from the Court today specifically states that Polisario is able to represent the Saharawi people before European courts.
The right of the Saharawi people to consent has not been respected, the court stated. It states that the Union could not have replaced the “consent” of the Saharawi people with the argument of “benefits”.