Najla Mohamed-Lamin in the refugee camp in Algeria where she grew up
By Najla Mohamed-Lamin – a Saharawi refugee now studying in the United States
stuff.co.nz; 21 September 2018
OPINION: I have never been to New Zealand. But what happens in the ports of your country is deeply affecting me and my people. As a refugee, living on the other side of the world, I am disturbed by the role that a country, so far away, can play in the conflict that has made my life so complicated.
A series of articles has recently been published by Stuff, regarding New Zealand’s imports of phosphate rock from Western Sahara. That is my homeland, occupied by Morocco.
New Zealand is the now the only country in the world that buys phosphate rock from Western Sahara. Importers in the United States and Canada have just terminated the controversial imports.
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Tony Wall, National Correspondent, www.Stuff.co.nz
14 September 2018
New Zealand could easily stop buying “stolen” phosphate from the occupied Western Sahara and use a more environmentally friendly version, a soil scientist and independent fertiliser operator says.
The Stuff series Growing Pain has shone a light on how New Zealand has been thrust into the centre of the world’s most protracted refugee crisis by continuing to buy phosphate from the bitterly disputed region.
The Saharawi people consider the phosphate to be stolen by Morocco, which annexed their territory in the 1970s
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The NM Cherry Blossom, which had been headed for Tauranga, was forced to anchor 4km off the South African coast, costing $10,300 a day.
Stuff NZ, September 12 2018
Refugees who blame New Zealand for a long-running stand-off in the Western Sahara have made a direct plea to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is among the few Westerners to have visited their camps.
A delegation of representatives from Morroco is in Wellington this week to make their case over the ongoing purchase of minerals from the region by two New Zealand fertiliser co-operatives. Phosphate taken from a mine in the region is considered by the Saharawi people to be stolen by Morroco, which annexed the area in 1975.
The Green Party is calling for a select committee inquiry into the trade and will meet with the Moroccan delegation on Thursday to raise its concerns…
Read full report
The world’s longest conveyor belt in the Sahara Desert.
A series of three special reports by Charlie Mitchell
Stuff NZ, September 12 2018
* In Part one: Precious rock New Zealand is accused of stealing from the Sahara
* part two of Growing Pain, a Stuff series, Charlie Mitchell reports on New Zealand’s tarnished reputation as a humanitarian nation in the eyes of those stuck in refugee camps in Algeria.
* In part three of Growing Pain, a Stuff series, Charlie Mitchell explains the strange bind that keeps New Zealand companies returning for more phosphate from Western Sahara.
The Australian Greens National Conference held in Brisbane on 19 & 20 May 2018 adopted the following resolution on Western Sahara:
“That National Conference:
1. Strongly supports the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence and urge the UN to organise a free and fair referendum on independence in Western Sahara without further delay;
2. Condemns human rights abuses in the areas of Western Sahara occupied by Morocco and urge the UN to extend the mandate of its mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to include human rights monitoring and reporting. The territory should also be opened for other international observers, such as NGOs and the media;
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.