Europe's liberals demand recognition of Western Sahara republic
A resolution passed yesterday at the annual congress of European Liberal Youth (LYMEC) in Berlin, demands the recognition of the Saharawi Arabic Democratic Republic. The resolution was tabled by the Young Liberals of Norway. LYMEC has a quarter of a million members in 37 European states.
Press Release, 22 April 2007 Young Liberals of Norway
Europe's liberal youth parties unanimously back the demand that the European Union and all European states recognize the Western Sahara Republic (SADR) as an independent state.
– This is a clear political signal from a unified Liberal movement demanding that Western Sahara be put higher on the public agenda and that Europe take a leading role in liberating Africa's last colony, says international officer of Young Liberals of Norway, Boye Bjerkholt.
The resolution tabled by the Young Liberals of Norway at the yearly congress of LYMEC (European Liberal Youth) in Berlin, also demands a halt to the trade in products from the occupied territories and that pressure is put on Morocco to respect human rights and to release all Sahrawi prisoners of conscience.
The Sahrawi republic is today recognized by 85 states, but so far no European country recognizes Western Sahara as an independent state.
– Now, liberals from all corners of the continent are taking the demand of recognition home to their respective capitals and will contribute to put this matter higher on the political agenda, says international officer of Young Liberals of Norway, Boye Bjerkholt.
- This is particularly important now, considering how the EU has turned a blind eye to the difficult situation in Western Sahara and renewed the illegal fisheries agreement with Morocco, giving EU fishing vessels access to occupied waters, says Bjerkholt.
LYMEC has member organizations in 37 European countries, and a total of a quarter of a million members in 59 member organizations.
The resolution was adopted as follows:
Recognise Western Sahara
The territory of Western Sahara has been under occupation by Morocco since 1975.
The United Nations General Assembly already in 1960 declared that the people of Western Sahara have the right to self-determination.
The International Court of Justice in 1975 ruled against Morocco's territorial claim on Western Sahara.
Western Sahara is formally recognised under the name of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic by 85 states, but by no European state to date.
Western Sahara is on the UN list of Non-Self Governing Territories and is considered Africa's last colony.
Under the terms of the UN's settlement plan in 1991, Western Sahara should decide its own future status in a referendum.
Attempts to hold a referendum on the future status of Western Sahara have repeatedly failed.
Human rights agencies and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have reported grave and systematic violations of human rights in the occupied territories.
The people living in the occupied territories are subject to severe restrictions on their freedom of speech, assembly and movement.
Human rights activists and pro-independence journalists and editors have been put behind bars.
The Baker Peace Plan – calling for the establishment of a Western Sahara Authority, which would be followed after five years by a referendum – has been blocked by France in the UN Security Council.
The EU has signed agreements with Morocco that allow EU vessels to fish in territories that are legally under occupation. This constitutes a clear violation of international law and constitutes a de facto recognition of the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara.
The US-Morocco free-trade agreement does not extend to products from the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
LYMEC – European Liberal Youth calls upon the EU and all European states to
Formally recognise the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as an independent state.
Exclude from all trade agreements with Morocco products originating from the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
Put pressure on Morocco to respect the human rights of all Sahrawis and to release all prisoners of conscience.
For further information, contact Boye Bjerkholt, international officer, Young Liberals Norway. Tel (+47) 93412869
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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