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Australian Trade Unions embrace Western Sahara legitimate struggle for decolonization




Australian Trade Unions support the legitimate struggle of the people of Western Sahara for freedom and independence, said Malainin Lakhal, Secretary General of the Union of Saharawi Journalists and Writers Union, today to UPES website.

“I was able to see with my own eyes and to witness a deep and sincere concern within the Australian Trade Unions about the human rights situation in the occupied territories of Western Sahara”, Malainin said.

The Saharawi activist who is undertaking a two month tour to Australia and New Zealand, was received by representative of many Australian Trade Unions formally and informally, and was invited on Friday 08 of June by Australian activists in Geelong Trade Hall, to report about the human rights situation in his homeland.

He had been present at a part of the meeting of the Executive of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, which had the human rights situation in Western Sahara in its agenda of the day.

He was also received, on Thursday, by the Secretary General of the Australian Services Union (ASU), in a meeting also attended by Mrs. Brigid Marasco, ASU Communications Development Officer, in addition to Mrs. Cate Lewis, Ron Guy and Georgia Vlassopoulos, all members of the Australian Western Sahara Association.

In Geelong, the Saharawi activist was able to fully communicate with Australian workers and trade unionists in Friday after he went to see where the shipments of phosphate rock from his country arrive at the processing plant of the Geelong based Australian company, Incitec Pivot.

“The Australian fertilizer companies, Incitec Pivot, CSBP and Impact are illegally importing the Saharawi phosphate”, Malainin said.

“With members of the Australian Western Sahara Association, I was able to physically touch a part of my land here in Geelong, but I could still not be happy for that, because it was stolen from my homeland without the consent of my people”, he regretted.

The Australian people “do not know that the superphosphate some Australian companies are selling to them to fertilize their land is stolen from the occupied territories of Western Sahara, against the wishes of the people of the territory who are subjected by Morocco, the colonizing power, to all kinds of abuses since 1975”, Malainin asserted.

He recalled that the international law, as reaffirmed in 2002 by UN under Secretary General for Legal Affairs, Hans Corell, forbids the exploitation of the natural resources of Non-Self-Governing territories unless the indigenous people consent and the outcomes of this exploitation is completely used for their benefit, “which is, of course, not the case”, Malainin Lakhal declared.

“The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued in 2006 a report clearly stating that the Moroccan government is committing flagrant human rights abuses in the territory, the report emphasized that self-determination should be granted to the Saharawi people and do not forget that more than 160.000 Saharawis are refugees in the south of Algeria and they got absolutely no profit of the exploitation of their natural resources”, Malainin said.

He further considered that the Australian companies, “of which some started importing our phosphate 20 years ago, are in fact profiting from the Saharawi people’s sufferings, and this is shameful.”

Western Sahara is the last colony in Africa. It was declared by the UN as a Non-Self-Governing territory since the early sixties and should be decolonized, according to the international law, via a self-determination process to enable the Saharawis, the indigenous people, to decide over the future of their country.

Nonetheless, Morocco, another African country, invaded Western Sahara in 1975 after Spain, the colonial power pulled out without decolonizing it, and since that date a set of human rights violations are periodically reported by local and international human rights organizations, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Malainin Lakhal, who has been living in the Moroccan occupied part of the territory until 2000 when he decided to join the Saharawi liberation movement, POLISARIO Front, is visiting Australia “to raise awareness about the precarious situation of human rights in the occupied zones of my country”, he said.

The Saharawi activist has been invited to this two months tour in Australia by the Australian Western Sahara Association (AWSA), assisted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Manufactured Workers Union, Australian Services Union, Australian Workers Union, Community and Public Sector Union, International Federation of Journalists, Maritime Union of Australia, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Union Aid Abroad (Apheda), Unions NSW and WA Unions.