Australian solidarity with Western Sahara

Blockading the illegally-built road in Gueguerat, Western Sahara. Photo: Gargarat News/Facebook

The Australia Western Sahara Association expresses solidarity for the people of Western Sahara and strongly condemns Morocco’s flagrant violation of the terms of the ceasefire in Western Sahara on Friday 13 November 2020.

Under the peace accord, the United Nations was to organise a referendum of self -determination for the people of Western Sahara allowing them to choose the status of their land, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. The referendum has never happened.

“AWSA condemns the use of the Morocco military to clear unarmed Saharawi civilians who had been demonstrating peacefully in Guerguerat in south-western Western Sahara since late October” said AWSA Secretary, Lesley Osborne.

The protest had been blocking an illegal crossing – a road unilaterally built by Morocco through the Buffer Zone, an area under the control of MINURSO, the UN mission tasked with organising the referendum.

“This road symbolises the impunity with which Morocco continues violating Saharawi rights, and illegally plunders their resources” said Osborne.

“The United Nations has failed in its promise of a referendum and the outbreak of military hostilities is the culmination of years of neglect of Western Sahara by the international community.

“The Saharawi are understandably very frustrated – those living under occupation in Western Sahara and those exiled to refugee camps in the Algerian desert for over 45 years.”

AWSA urges the United Nations to set a date for the long overdue referendum of self-determination. The UN must pressure Morocco to withdraw its army from the Buffer Strip and respect the terms of the ceasefire. It must also give MINURSO the mandate to monitor and report on human rights in Western Sahara and end the plunder of the Saharawi natural resources.

Finally, the UN Secretary-General should urgently appoint a Special Envoy to Western Sahara to progress negotiations and assist with the decolonisation process of Africa’s last colony.

[The Australia Western Sahara Association released this statement on November 17.]

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