799 organisations, and a refugee in Brussels, protest EU fisheries
“I ask the EU to please take into account the rights of my people. We, the Saharawi, are saddened over the way this fisheries agreement with Morocco affects our struggle”, stated the Saharawi refugee Senia Abderahman to the European Commission today.
Abderahman handed over a letter urging the EU to halt all fisheries in occupied Western Sahara. The letter was signed by some 20,000 individuals and 799 organisations.
“The EU has to choose. Either it can support international law and human rights – or it can continue to pay an illegal occupier to get access to my people’s natural wealth. It cannot do both”, said Abderahman.
Abderahman has grown up in the refugee camps in Algeria, where one out of four children in the camps suffer from malnutrition. While the EU has been harvesting the Saharawi’s fish in violation of international law, Abderahman and her family has been surviving on emergency aid.
The letter was handed over to representatives of the Cabinet this afternoon.
Among those who signed the letter, are a number of high-profile individuals, such as Francesco Bastagli, Kofi Annan’s former United Nations Special Representative to Western Sahara; Frank Ruddy, former deputy chairman of UN mission in Western Sahara; Rosa Diéz González, the leader of Spain’s main Spanish opposition party UPyD; and Mahfoud Ali Beiba, a former president of the Saharawi parliament. Some 160 parliamentarians, mostly in Europe , have also signed the call.
The 799 organisations protesting the continued involvement of the EU in the Saharan fishery include environmental groups such as Greenpeace International, human rights organisations such as Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights, national trade unions, political parties, the United Nations Associations of three countries, and almost all Saharawi civil society groups throughout the occupied territory, in refugee camps in Algeria, and among exiles in Europe.
Morocco has occupied much of Western Sahara since November 1975, and has taken the natural resources of the territory, including a rich fishery along the Atlantic coast in contravention of international law. Virtually all international jurists who have studied the EU-Moroccan fisheries agreement have concluded the European Commission’s making of fisheries treaties with Morocco is illegal. Only last year, even the European Parliament’s own legal service has stated that the current agreement is in violation of international law, since there was no evidence that the Saharawi had been consulted or that they benefit from the agreement.
For questions on the letter, please contact Coordinator of Western Sahara Resource Watch, Ms. Sara Eyckmans. T: + 32 475 45 86 95 The Saharawi refugee Senia Abderahman is available through the WSRW coordinator.
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.