Protest tomorrow of "Blood phosphate" shipment
11 Dec 2019
Ravensdown Criticised for Complicity in Human Rights Violations
Protest groups and human rights supporters are preparing to “unwelcome” bulk carrying cargo ship ‘Federal Crimson’ as it arrives in Dunedin on Wednesday. The ship has carried over 50,000 tonnes of ‘conflict phosphate’ from the non-self governing territory of Western Sahara to New Zealand. Dunedin based ‘Environmental Justice Ōtepoti’ are planning a family friendly protest with a barbecue and music. “We wanted to celebrate how far the campaign has come this year,” said spokesperson Rachael Laurie.
Laurie, (28) intends to skip her post graduation festivities to attend the protest. “I’m here today for all of the Saharawi’s who will never get to graduate as a result of the Moroccan occupation that is supported by Ravensdown,” Laurie said.
Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 and have been exploiting the countries natural resources ever since. 173,000 Saharawi live in a refugee camp in Tindouf, their government, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic is recognised by 80 states, but not by New Zealand.
MINURSO The United Nations mission for a peaceful resolution for the people of Western Sahara has so far failed to achieve the referendum that the Saharawi people are waiting for. New Zealand fertilizer firms Ravensdown and Ballance are being criticized for purchasing from Moroccan controlled phosphate exporter, OCP.
“Every shipment purchased gives more reason for the occupying power to remain and delays a peaceful outcome for the Saharawi people.” said Rachael Laurie
Mahmoud Lemadel is a journalist and activist living in El Aiuin within the occupied area. Mahmoud has thrown his support behind the planned protests. “ My dream of living in peace as a young man living in occupied territory is being stolen by the international companies who are fallen in swamps of the illegal plunder of my country. Among these dreams thieves are companies from New Zealand. These companies are supporting the presence of occupation in my country. We are born and raised waiting for theatres, good hospitals, universities and so on,” said Laurie
“Ravensdown are ignoring the requests of the Saharawi people and their government for them to stop purchasing from OCP. Ravensdown justify their ongoing involvement by claiming the purchasing of blood phosphate benefits local people. This ignores the reality in the refugee camps and the violence and oppression experienced by Saharawi’s living in the occupied area,” said Laurie. “Our groups have been in close contact with and are working alongside Saharawi People to ensure their voices are heard.”
Earlier this year, 24 year old English teacher Sabah Osman was killed by Moroccan police while she celebrated Algeria’s victory in football tournament, Africa Cup of Nations.
“We intend to remember Sabah Osman at our event this week,” said Laurie.
“It is shameful that Ravensdown continues to silence and erase the suffering of the people of Western Sahara. They (Ravensdown) are aware that this operation is a violation of human rights. The people of Western Sahara have a right to sovereignty. Ravensdown are complicit in allowing the military occupation to continue,” Laurie said.
As well as planned protest action, Port workers represented by RMTU have boarded the vessel in Napier and Lyttleton handing over a letter expressing their disapproval of the trade. On Wednesday a MUNZ member will hand over their own letter of protest at the Federal Crimson arrives in Dunedin. This is following a resolution made by the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) to support Western Sahara’s independence and oppose Ravensdown and Ballance’s purchase of conflict phosphate.