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A voice from Western Sahara in New Zealand

Western Sahara Campaign NZ announces the arrival, on Wednesday the 2nd of October, in New Zealand of Tecber Ahmed Saleh from Western Sahara.Tecber Ahmed Saleh lives in the Saharawi refugee camps in south-west Algeria and will visit New Zealand to talk about Western Sahara,Africa’s last colony.

Tecber works in the Ministry of Health in the Saharawi refugee camps where she was born. She will speak about the conditions of life in the camps and the larger political issues facing Western Sahara.

In 1975 Morocco invaded Western Sahara. Saharawis fled the occupation and now 173,600 remain in refugee camps. The Saharawi continue their non-violent struggle, waiting for the United Nations referendum of self-determination agreed in 1991.

As an advocate for the Saharawi cause, Tecber has written and contributed to articles to raise awareness about the plight of her people.
Whilst in New Zealand Tecber will be addressing public meetings in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington,Christchurch, and Dunedin, as well as meeting with trade unions, community organisations, and Members of Parliament.

Her visit will place some emphasis on raising awareness, in New Zealand,of the fact that New Zealand cooperatives Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients are now the only companies in the western world to import phosphate rock from Western Sahara, effectively financing the Moroccan occupation.

Auckland Oct 5th, Ellen Melville Hall: Free Western Sahara! Tecber Ahmed Saleh speaks in Tāmaki
Hamilton Oct 7th, Meteor: Tecber Ahmed Saleh of Western Sahara speaks in Kirikiriroa
Christchurch Oct 9th, Canterbury WEA: Christchurch Free Western Sahara - Tecber Ahmed Saleh Talk
Dunedin Oct 10th, University of Otago: Tecber Ahmed Saleh Aotearoa Tour : Ōtepoti / Dunedin
Wellington Oct 14th, Thistle Hall: Free Western Sahara! Tecber Ahmed Saleh speaks in Pōneke.
Lower Hutt Oct 15th, Waiwhetu Uniting Church: Why Western Sahara matters.



Fact Sheet on Western Sahara

Western Sahara is the size of Great Britain and is very rich in mineral resources and fisheries. It is located between Mauritania and Morocco on the North African coast of the Atlantic and shares a border with Algeria in the northeast.

Western Sahara remains the last African colony. Formerly a Spanish colony, the decolonization process began in the early 1960's after the UN Special Committee on Decolonization declared Western Sahara a "Non-Self Governing Territory" and the General Assembly confirmed this by many resolutions. In October 1975, the ICJ formally rejected both Morocco's and Mauritania's claims to the Spanish Sahara and declared that the right of self-determination for Western Sahara was paramount. A month later, the Kingdom of Morocco launched the infamous "Green March" towards Western Sahara.

After the ICJ decision, both Morocco and Mauritania invaded and illegally occupied Western Sahara against the wishes of the indigenous Saharawi population. They met resistance from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Río de Oro (Polisario), a Sahrawi independence movement established in the early 1970's as the voice of Western Sahara independence.

Mauritania relinquished its claim and withdrew from the territory it occupied, but fighting persisted between the Polisario and Morocco until 1991, when the United Nations brokered a ceasefire. The UN Mission for a Referendum on Western Sahara (MINURSO) was established to monitor the ceasefire and to administer a plan for realizing the Sahrawi's right to self-determination through the conduct of a free and fair referendum. But MINURSO has so far failed to organise the referendum Although it has succeeded in establishing the preliminary voters’ lists.

During the conflict, most Saharawis fled to Algeria, where as many as 173,000 continue to remain today in refugee camps. Within the last few years, Saharawis have accelerated a pro-independence and peaceful resistance uprising. With this has come increased police violence and brutality from Morocco in the occupied areas of Western Sahara.

The UN has been facilitating peace talks between the two sides since mid-2007. Thus far there has been no breakthrough in the dispute, as Morocco has refused to consider independence as an option. Morocco refuses to abide by UN resolutions and the Settlement Plan and is offering only a limited autonomy under its sovereignty. Polisario prefers a democratic solution based on the wishes of the population and is advocating for the organisation of a referendum of self-determination.

No country or international organisation recognises Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara. At present over 80 countries recognise the Saharawi Republic (SADR) which is a founding member of the African Union (AU).

For more information: www.awsa.org.au

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