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SAIH

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Norway should have a more progressive policy on Western Sahara

TO: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Morocco occupies Western Sahara. The Saharawi who live there are subjected to great suffering. At the same time Norwegian companies are operating in the country and continues to legitimise the occupation. The Norwegian authorities should be more active towards Morocco and the involved Norwegian companies.

Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco since 1975, when Spain the colonial power pulled out. The United Nations have repeatedly affirmed that the Moroccan control of Western Sahara is contrary to International Law, and the International Court of Justice in Hague has concluded that the Saharawi people have a right to self-determination.

Students have particularly though conditions. Morocco has opposed the establishment of universities in Western Sahara, while simultaneously suppressing students studying in Morocco. Brutal treatment is not however confined to student. There are also committed discrimination and human rights violations against the rest of the Saharawi population.

Saharawi human rights activists are often arrested without cause, and denied exit from Western Sahara and Morocco. Early in October 13 activists were either arrested or denied exit, and most of them were stripped of all their papers. This is not acceptable, and Norway has a moral obligation to react to the Moroccan authorities.

There are large deposits of phosphates and fish in Western Sahara, Morocco earn a lot financially from this occupation with help from foreign companies. Several Norwegian companies are engaged in or have pursued either fishing, searching for oil, or transportation of stolen resources from Western Sahara. Saharawi students protest against this illegal looting of the resources which they intend to build their country upon in the future. They view this as legitimisation of the occupation. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has officially dissuaded from trade in goods from Western Sahara, and it is misfortunate that there is not more coherence between the different ministries when it comes to these serious questions. SAIH believe that the Foreign Ministry must have a more active role in pointing out the seriousness of this matter directly to the companies in concern.

SAIH demands that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Contact Norwegian companies who are involved in Western Sahara, and make it clear that they dissuade from trade with resources from Western Sahara. React explicitly to Moroccan authorities when Saharawi human rights activists are arrested or denied exit without reason.

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