Wesfarmers role in pillaging Western Sahara exposed

[This is a statement released by the Australia Western Sahara Association (Victoria) on December 4.]

Norwegian insurance company, Kommunal Landspensjonskasse Mutual Insurance Company (KLP) has blacklisted Wesfarmers on account of its trade with Morocco in phosphate pillaged from Western Sahara.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review in December 2005, then opposition foreign affairs spokesperson and current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that "he saw parallels between the federal government's handling of the AWB scandal and the Western Sahara shipment". Rudd added: "I would be dumbfounded if the Australian government had allowed commercial relationships between another Australian company and Morocco, in breach of international law."

The Norwegian business daily Dagens Naringsliv stated on December 3 that "KLP excludes the fertiliser producer Wesfarmers as a result of illegal import of phosphate from Western Sahara. The area is occupied by Morocco, and in 2002 the UN declared all extraction of natural resources in West
Sahara as illegal."

KLP's ethical guidelines require it to disinvest from Wesfarmers because its subsidiary fertiliser company, CSBP, imports phosphate from Morocco sourced in Western Sahara. Under UN guidelines and international law, the natural resources of a "non-self-governing country", waiting to be
decolonised, belong to the indigenous people of the territory, in this case the Saharawi people. "Wesfarmers (is) excluded due to violations of KLP's ethical guidelines and because they have not rectified criticisable conditions or in other way signalled a way to solve their problem", says Mari Thjomoe, KLP president for economy and finance, explained in a press release.

"Wesfarmers CSBP based in Fremantle is one of three Australian companies engaging in this trade. One might expect the others to become blacklisted too", commented Cate Lewis of the Australian Western Sahara Association. They are Incitec Pivot based in Melbourne and Impact Fertilisers based in Tasmania.

Incitec Pivot is the biggest Australian importer of this Saharawi phosphate rock. Lewis explain that on December 4 "a ship called Sparrow (of US Eagle Bulk Shipping) is due to dock in Geelong with yet another shipment of the illegal cargo".

Lewis said that "we call on the new federal government to put an end to this illegal, immoral and unethical behaviour of the Australian companies. The stealing of Western Sahara phosphate must end now."

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