We condemn the massacre of the Sahrawi people in Western Sahara

Statement by International Workers Unity (Fourth-International)

On November 8, Moroccan troops burned down a Saharawi refugee camp in Gdaim Izik consisting of 7,500 jaimas (tent houses) that has been the home of more than 20,000 people gathered on the outskirts of the city of El Aaiun, to protest against the living conditions imposed by the occupation authorities to the inhabitants of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SARD). The encampment was set up to demand the right to work, housing and respect for their rights.

The military assault targeted unarmed civilians and entire families with their children and was carried out with both weapons and helicopters. It was a premeditated attack which took place after the Moroccan military cut cell phone signals and turned away all international journalists. According to Sahrawi, there are dozens of deaths, over 4,000 wounded and 2,000 arrested. Fear of Moroccan police is preventing those wounded to go to hospitals.

El Aaiún city was occupied by the military. Meanwhile, Spanish observers have denounced that Moroccan soldiers “are coming inside all the houses and destroying people’s belongings and there really is in fact a reign of terror”.

This is a new genocidal attack by the Moroccan monarchy that for 34 years has occupied the country− since 1976 when Spanish dictator Francisco Franco was in his deathbed. The Moroccan monarchy occupies a territory of 266,000 km 2 and about 280,000 inhabitants, located on the west coast of Africa and between Morocco and Mauritania in complicity with Spain, the former colonial power and backed by the U.S. and France. The military occupation of Morocco used ethnic cleansing to terrorize the population and force it into exile into the Sahara Desert on the way to Algeria. Thousands of Saharawi people have lived in tents in Algeria and these days there are 170,000.

The Western Sahara region is rich in mineral wealth; it has phosphates used in fertilizers, and its shores are home to one of the richest fishing grounds in the planet. In addition, it is also known that it has oil.  European companies have been granted fishing licenses and at the same time, phosphates are being exploited intensively. Actually, Spanish transnational companies (such as FMC Foret which takes half a million tons of phosphates, Jealsa which commercializes canned fish Rianxeira y Escuris) and French and U.S. companies are behind the looting of Western Sahara in complicity with the Moroccan monarchy and military generals (whom the transnational give shares and usually place on the business boards of their subsidiaries to look after their interests).

The Saharawi people have established a state in exile, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), supported by neighboring Algeria, and recognized by more than 80 countries and the African Union. In 2009, the SADR claimed the Exclusive Economic Zone waters as part of their territory and complained before the General Assembly and Security Council of the UN in regards to Morocco’s violation of International Law for using Western Sahara’s natural resources for its own commercial purposes.

The Polisario Front led a guerrilla war until 1991. That year, a ceasefire was signed under UN supervision with a commitment to conduct a referendum in which the Sahrawi people can have a say on the independence issue.

Western Sahara remains the last African territory awaiting decolonization. The UN has formally recognized the rights of the Saharawi people and resolution 63/102 of the General Assembly in December 2008, notes that under the status of territories (ie, pending decolonization) of Western Sahara, is the Saharawi people who have the right to manage and exploit their natural resources, reaffirming that “any economic or other activity that adversely affect the interests of the peoples of the Territories and the exercise of their right to self-determination … is contrary to the purposes and principles of the Charter. ”

But as in many international conflicts (like in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and Palestine for example), the resolutions of the UN General Assembly are not enforced when the imperialist powers are against it. There are UN troops in Western Sahara, but in fact their only mission is to prevent Saharawi people’s resistance. But facts are not involved in the recent slaughter. After the Izik Gdaim massacre Saharawi protesters in occupied territory demanded the withdrawal of the United Nations Mission for the Organization of a Referendum in Western Sahara and to recognize its “failure.”

What happened in the Izik Gdaim camp is part of a military occupation regime. Under the occupation, Moroccan troops beat and jail minors who hang small flags in the slums, women are raped or and activists disappeared. There are young people in prison purging a 6 years sentence for participating in demonstrations; there is torture and refugee boats have been overturned in high sea … There is daily repression against anyone expresses the most minimal opposition or who reports to international organizations . The country is militarized with a wall of 2720 kilometers in the desert so the 170,000 exiles cannot return and land mines scattered across the desert to spread terror among peasants.
The struggle for independence of Western Sahara, Africa’s last colony, is part of an international struggle to expel transnational corporations that are looting Africa resulting as part of a semi-colonization process of the continent that results in internal wars and genocides to seize its oil and minerals (in Zaire and Great Lakes, Somalia, Nigeria).Further, the U.S. has military agreements with Morocco to set up bases there to intervene in Africa.

The International Workers Unity (UIT-CI, for its Spanish initials) calls on workers and the people of the world to express solidarity with the struggle of the Sahrawi people to demand the withdrawal of foreign troops. In particular, we call on Spanish, French and American workers whose governments and transnational are complicit in the occupation. We call on the Moroccan people to express their solidarity as well. The Moroccan people do not benefit at all from the occupation of the small country; on the contrary, they are forced to sustain the military efforts of the monarchy. We call on all governments, particularly in Latin America to break diplomatic ties with the Kingdom of Morocco until it withdraws its occupation troops, and to recognize the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SARD).

We demand that the Moroccan Monarchy stops all repression, release prisoners. We also demand the immediate withdrawal of the Moroccan army and UN troops as well as the withdrawal of all multinationals that are plundering natural recourses so the Sahrawi people can freely determine their future based on their right to national independence.

International Workers Unity (Fourth-International)

November 15, 2010