A peaceful community assembly was held on Friday September 21 outside the Melbourne headquarters of Incitec Pivot Limited. Of the three Australian companies importing phosphate from Morocco sourced in Western Sahara, IPL has the largest share of the superphosphate market.
The Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA) called on the company to inform their shareholders and the farmers using their fertiliser about the moral and legal issues involved in this trade.
The speakers, introduced by Ron Guy of AWSA, were Labor MP Gavan O'Connor, Democrats Senator Lyn Allison, and Greens Senate candidate Richard di Natale. All speakers emphasised the importance of raising awareness about the serious injustice being done to the Saharawi people. Australia is supporting a brutal regime by allowing companies to trade with Morocco, which commits daily human rights abuses against Saharawi students, families and workers. "Our farmers would be shocked if they knew the story behind their superphosphate fertiliser", O'Connor said.
Those present were asked to sign a petition calling on the Australian government to "refuse importation of phosphate rock from Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, until a referendum of self-determination is held on the country's future. Until its sovereignty is decided, under international law, Western Sahara's natural resources belong to the indigenous people of the territory, the Saharawis, and cannot be exploited unless they consent to and benefit economically from the trade."
Representatives from Geelong Trades Hall Council, the Socialist Alliance, the Australia East Timor Association, the Australian Workers Union, the Maritime Union of Australia and Friends of the Earth attended the action. The company asked a public relations consultant to attend and listen to what was said so they could learn more about the situation.