Protests for Western Sahara Independence
On Sunday, November 16th, 2014, it was reported in Yahoo that thousands of people took to the streets in Madrid to call for independence for the Sahrawi people in Western Sahara. According to the report, there were over 3,000 people protesting, and they were playing music, chanting, as well as holding signs supporting the Sahrawi.
Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco for decades, as Western Sahara has a number of valuable resources such as phosphates, as well as fishing on its coast. Since Morocco occupied Western Sahara in the mid 1970s, they have tried to make the territory a part of Morocco proper (Yahoo, 2014). In fact, the Moroccan government has done this by moving troops and Moroccans in the area, has controlled the local conditions, and has build a sand wall into Western Sahara.
It is critical that the international community recognize the rights of the Sahrawi people in Western Sahara. They have clearly been occupied by a power who is not concerned for their rights of self-determination, but rather, are interested in maintaining the area for their own political and economic interests. The Moroccan government wants to use the phosphates for their own economy and growth in Morocco proper.
What is sad and highly unfortunate is that it is highly unlikely that the United States or Western European states wants to recognize the full rights of those in Western Sahara, due to their relationships with King Mohammed VI of Morocco. The United States has a strong relationship with the King, as the King has been a strong ally to the US and the “War on Terror” post September 11th, 2001. Furthermore, many European states also have fishing agreements with Morocco with regards to the waters off the coast of Western Sahara, despite the fact that Morocco has no rights to make deals with regards to Occupied Western Sahara.
Regardless, we must continue to point out the human rights abuses by the Moroccan government against those in Western Sahara, and must continue to demand for the full self-determination of the Sahrawi people. This is another example of a power controlling a territory, and not being criticized by some other states who are also benefiting from an alliance with the occupying state, in this case Morocco.