Demands Etosha to stop fishing in occupied Western Sahara
The Namibian-South African company, Etosha Fishing Corp (Pty) Ltd, has been active in the occupied Western Saharan waters for nearly a year. July 21st, Western Sahara Resource Watch and the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara sent Etosha a letter asking them to reconsider their engagement in the area.
Regarding Etosha Fishing’s activities in occupied Western Sahara
Dear Mr. Conradie
Further to the conversation Tuesday 15th of July between board member Fritz Frølich of the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, and yourself.
The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara and the global network organization Western Sahara Resource Watch are keenly following Etosha’s process of establishing in Dakhla, Western Sahara.
We would like to point out a series of ethical, political and legal concerns related to establishing business relations with Moroccan authorities in the occupied territory, and kindly ask you to reconsider whether your company really wants to get further engaged in fishing in Western Sahara.
Western Sahara is illegally occupied by Morocco. The International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1975 clearly rejected Morocco’s claims to the territory. The occupation of Western Sahara has resulted in enormous suffering and deprivation of the Saharawi people, the rightful owners of the land and the natural resources of Western Sahara. Approximately 165.000 Saharawis are languishing in refugee camps in the inhospitable Algerian desert since they fled their homeland in 1975.
The Saharawi population remaining in areas under Moroccan occupation is subjected to grave human rights violations, such as torture, forced disappearances and arbitrary detention. Most importantly, however, they have not been allowed to freely exercise their right to selfdetermination through a free, fair and transparent referendum. This right was established through UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) (1960). More than 100 UN resolutions have since then supported the Sahrawis in that right.
At the same time, Morocco trades with the natural resources belonging to the territory. The former UN Under-Secretary General of Legal Affairs, Mr. Hans Corell (www.arso.org/Olaeng.pdf), affirmed in his letter to the President of the Security Council on 29 January 2002, that exploitation of natural resources in Western Sahara can only take place if it is to the benefit of or in the interest of the people of the territory.
As far as we have been able to ascertain, Etosha Fishing Corp. Ltd. has so far not consulted with the Saharawi people or their internationally recognized representatives; Front Polisario/the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. It is therefore highly dubious that such a contract can be seen as being in accordance with international law, ref. the Corell opinion.
Etosha Fishing Corp. Ltd. is collaborating with an illegal occupier, thus increasing the risk of further armed conflict, destabilisation and suffering in the entire region. This increased tension actively undermines the hard work of the United Nations to solve the conflict in Western Sahara over the last seventeen years.
Your cooperation with the Moroccan government in the occupied also clearly lends legitimacy to the illegal Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara.
We expect that the South African and Namibian governments – which both recognise the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic as an independent state, and show a strong and unconditional support for the Saharawi people’s legitimate struggle for independence – will find it unfortunate that a Namibian-South African company has deals with Morocco in the occupied country.
The same would apply to the government on St.Kitts and Nevis where we understand your boats are flagged.
The undersigned organisations hereby appeal to Etosha Fishing Corp. Ltd. to demonstrate its attachment to International Legality and basic principles of Corporate Social Responsibility, by reconsidering your engagement in Western Sahara.
We urge you to immediately make contact with authorities of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic or with Saharawi human rights groups in occupied Western Sahara, such as CODESA, ASVDH, CODAPSO, the Committee against torture in Dakhla or le Comité de Soutien au Plan de Résolution Onusien et pour la Protection des Ressources Naturelles au Sahara Occidental, in order to ascertain whether your activities are in accordance with their wishes and interests.
If they are not, we urge you to immediately terminate your engagement in occupied Western Sahara.
We will be more than happy to provide you with any additional information that you may require to study this matter more closely and look forward to your reply to this letter.
(sign.) Javier García Lachica International Coordinator, Western Sahara Resource Watch
(sign.) Ronny Hansen Chairman, Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara
Copy of this letter is sent to: -Oceana Group -Namibian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Minister Marco Hausiku -South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma -South African Department of Foreign Affairs, Attention: Chief Director of North Africa, Mr. Ebrahim Saley -ANC, Attention: Head of International Relations, Mr. Ebrahim Ebrahim -South African Communist Party, Attention: General Secretary, Dr. Blade Nzimande -South African Parliament, Attention: House Chairperson, Mr. Obed Bapela, and Chairperson of Portfolio on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dumisane Job Sithole
Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
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