The Australian Council of Trade Unions unanimously passed a motion supporting self-determination for the people of Western Sahara at its national congress over May 15-17.
The motion also called for the Australian government to push local companies to “end the importation of phosphate”, which is plundered from Western Sahara by Morocco.
Saharawi human rights activist Malak Amidane spoke at a public forum in Sydney on May 17 as part of a national speaking tour, organised by the Australia Western Sahara Association and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.
Amidane said Western Sahara was the last remaining colony in Africa and the biggest in the world. Morocco has illegally maintained a military occupation of the territory since 1975 to exploit its natural resources.
Amidane called the United Nations the “U Nothing” because it had failed to prevent human rights abuses against the Saharawi people. She showed slides of those arrested and tortured by the occupiers and invited the Australian people to come to her country and see if her claims were true.
One showed a protester doused with petrol and set alight.
Amidane said the Moroccan people were also suffering under a feudal non-constitutional monarch kept in power by the oligarchy of army generals.
She said that the wave of rebellion spreading across the region, commonly referred to as the “Arab Spring”, needed to extend to Morocco not only to free the Moroccan people but also aid the struggle of the Saharawi people.
Amidane urged Australians to boycott companies that trade in Saharawi stolen resources, including imports of phosphate rock from the Bou Craa mine in Western Sahara.
The ACTU congress motion said: “The only just, legal and lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, is to end the Moroccan illegal occupation and allow the Sahara people to exercise their right to self-determination, in accordance with the UN decolonisation doctrine.”