“End the illegal occupation of Western Sahara” Labour Party Conference urged

Campaigners ensured that the crisis in Western Sahara was high on the political agenda at the annual Labour Party Conference this week. They joined representatives from Polisario, Western Sahara’s government in exile, to attend the conference and meet with government ministers, MP’s, MEP’s and diplomats from around the world.
As well as meetings in the main conference arena, campaigners also held their own fringe meeting and organised a picket outside the conference centre. They were joined by stars from the West End musical, Avenue Q, in handing out leaflets calling for an end to Morocco’s 34 year illegal occupation which forced half the Saharawi population to flee to refugee camps whilst the other half suffer human rights abuses in their native land.
Over the three days, Y Lamine Baali, UK Polisario representative met with Baroness Kinnock, Minister of State for Europe, Michael Cashman MEP, Lord George Foulkes and several MP’s including Andy Love and Jeremy Corbyn, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Western Sahara.
At the International Reception on Monday, Mr Baali raised the question of the UN’s role in resolving the situation in Western Sahara and how activities can better be coordinated between between the UN, the EU, the G20 and the African Union.
At a meeting on international affairs attended by David Miliband (Foreign Secretary), Bob Ainsworth, (Defence Secretary) and Douglas Alexander (International Development Secretary) two questions on Western Sahara were raised. The first, from the head of the Angolan delegation, expressed concern about the human rights situation in the occupied territories. The second, from Mr Baali raised the issue of the advanced status that the EU plans to grant Morocco and its link to EU Fisheries Agreement. The question of illegal fishing by EU vessels in Western Saharan waters was also raised by the Chair of the Free Western Sahara Network, Stefan Simanowitz, at a meeting with Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for Marine and Fisheries.
Y Lamine Baali said today:
“The last three days have provided us with an important opportunity to make sure that the issue of Western Sahara is not forgotten. We have been here to remind the British government and the world that our country has been occupied unlawfully for more than three decades. The International Court of Justice’s ruling has been ignored. Over 100 UN Resolutions have been disregarded. And in the meantime the Saharawi people’s human rights are abused with impunity. Over 165,000 them have lived as refugees in remote camps in the Algerian desert for more than a generation. Although international action is long overdue, we believe that the force of history is on our side and our right to self-determination will soon be realised.”
Jeremy Corbyn will make an address about Western Sahara to the UN Committee on Decolonization in New York on 6th October.
To find out more about Western Sahara and the campaign visit www.freesahara.ning.comwww.freesahara.ning.com

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