Morocco is illegally occupying the neighbouring country, Western Sahara. While the Saharawi, the people of Western Sahara, is legitimately struggling for liberty, no state has recognised the Moroccan claims to the territory. Western Sahara is treated by the UN as the last remaining colonial issue in Africa.
The Moroccan occupation is in violation of the Opinion from the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and in violation of more than 100 UN resolutions that call for the self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.
The Moroccan occupation of the former Spanish colony took place in a very violent manner. As Moroccan air forces bombed local Western Sahara settlements with napalm bombs, a majority of the indigenous Saharawis were forced to leave their homes, and fled to the Algerian desert.
"Thus the Court has not found legal ties of such a nature as might affect the application of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonization of Western Sahara and, in particular, of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory." International Court of Justice, 16 October 1975
"The General Assembly[...]Deeply deplores the aggravation of the situation resulting from the continued occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco". UN General Assembly 34/37, 1979The Saharawi people declared their own Republic in exile, which since has been recognised by more than 80 other states. Yet the world still refuses to uphold international law and bring the occupation to an end.
The Saharawi liberation movement, known as the Polisario Front, fought the Moroccan army for 16 years, reclaiming approximately a fifth of their country. In response, Morocco built a 1,000-mile long wall, heavily fortified and mined, which today still divides the Saharawi refugees from those who still live in the Occupied Territories. In 1991 the United Nations brokered a ceasefire and agreed to organise a referendum in which the Saharawi people could vote on the future of Western Sahara. Yet, the Sahrawi are still waiting for the vote to take place.
Morocco now refuses a referendum. The Saharawis' representatives have even accepted that Moroccans who have been illegally moved into the territory can vote in the referendum. Morocco has denied that too. In stead, Morocco has proposed that Western Sahara be integrated into the Moroccan kingdom.
Tens of thousands of Saharawi people still live under the yoke of the Moroccan occupation in Western Sahara. Although they struggle peacefully and diplomatically to achieve their goal, their lives and activities are severely constricted by a harsh security state.
The Saharawi flag is banned in Western Sahara, and speaking out for an independent state is illegal. Merely calling for human rights is enough to get organisations closed down and their leaders imprisoned. Yet the Saharawi continue to speak out.
Over 500 Saharawi are still 'disappeared' in Moroccan custody, many have not been heard from for over 30 years. Relatives have been imprisoned and tortured for campaigning to know the truth about their fate.
While the Saharawi are subjected to human rights violations in their home country by a foreign colonial power, the international community looks the other way.
Many governments speak with 2 tongues on the issue of Western Sahara. On one hand, they claim to support the UN's efforts to find a solution to the conflict. But on the other, they enter into business deals with Morocco - inside the occupied territory.
The network organisation Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) works to expose which are the governments and companies supporting the occupation through business deals and trade agreements covering the territory of Western Sahara.
WSRW is behind the FishElsewhere! campaign, an initiative which tries to prevent the EU from signing a fisheries agreement with Morocco covering the waters offshore occupied Western Sahara in 2013.
The EU considers to pay Morocco to fish in occupied Western Sahara. An EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement from 2013 would be both politically controversial and in violation of international law.
The international Fish Elsewhere! campaign demands the EU to avoid such unethical operations, and go fishing somewhere else. No fishing in Western Sahara should take place until the conflict is solved.