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Planned Protest Action At Lyttelton Port Company Against Ravensdown Imports Of ‘Blood Phosphate’

When: Tuesday 23rd June, 1530 (please note this date is subject to change, due to Ravensdown using delay tactics on the ships arrival to try and avoid protests)

Where: Lyttelton Port, Fishermans Wharf restaurant

Free Western Sahara Solidarity Aotearoa have a planned protest action against Ravensdown to coincide with the arrival of the Trans Spring vessel into Lyttleton Port. The Trans Spring is carrying thousands of tonnes of stolen 'blood phosphate' from the occupied territory of Western Sahara.

The Rail and Maritime Union (RMTU) will also be boarding the ship to deliver a letter of protest directly to the captain of the controversial ship. The letter condemns Morocco's illegal occupation of Western Sahara and calls upon the New Zealand government to halt all importation of phosphate from the area. This was a successful tactic used in the Australian campaign to Free Western Sahara.

Last year a ship carrying phosphate rock destined for New Zealand was detained in South Africa and its courts ruled that the cargo was stolen from the people of Western Sahara. A boat was also detained in Panama for the same reason.

Last week the representatives for Western Sahara started an action in the High Court taking the Guardians of the New Zealand Super Fund to court, calling for a judicial review of its investments in businesses with links to Western Sahara’s exploited resources.

Western Sahara was invaded by Morocco in 1975. 176,300 people are still living in refugee camps in neighbouring Algeria despite a UN peace plan that proposed a referendum for Western Sahara’s independence in 1991. A plan, that is on hold due to the Moroccan occupier’s intransigence. The Saharawi people are separated from their homeland by a 2700km sand wall, ‘the berm’, personned by up to 100,000 soldiers. “The occupation is brutal” said Josie Butler, spokesperson for the Otautahi group, “I think the people of Christchurch would be horrified to know that a local business is funding such an injustice.”

The people of Western Sahara are calling for Ravensdown Ltd and Ballance Agri-Nutrients to “stop stealing their future”. The two NZ fertiliser cooperatives are the last two companies, in the western world, that still import from the occupied region. Western Sahara’s Representative to Australia and New Zealand, Kamal Fadel says that the phosphate trade funds the occupation and also signifies “de-facto recognition” of Morocco's claim to the territory.

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