Western Sahara: Only Sahrawis can decide their future
The Left in the European Parliament reaffirms that the solution to the conflict in Western Sahara lies in the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination following the visit of the European Parliament’s Western Sahara Solidarity Intergroup to the refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria.
Various UN resolutions have established the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people. They are the only ones who can freely decide their future. It is high time the international community protected and sustained the effective exercise of this right of decision without any external interference.
A former Spanish colony, Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco in 1975. Since then it has been the subject of a constant territorial dispute between Morocco and the Sahrawi people, led by the Polisario Front. UN intervention led to a promise of a referendum on independence which has yet to take place.
Spain continues to be the de jure administering power of Western Sahara, according to the Spanish National Court’s ruling. As a legal and historical responsibility, Spain must help the Sahrawi people exercise their right to self-determination. Together with the international community, it should also pressure Morocco to ensure that this right is put into practice as soon as possible, as established in the relevant UN resolutions.
In this regard, the statements of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Moroccan autonomy for Western Sahara are not acceptable. It is up to the Sahrawi people alone to exercise the right to self-determination and to freely opt for a decision, whatever it may be. We urge the Spanish Prime Minister to take this into consideration and realign his position with respect to the UN resolutions on Western Sahara and the Sahrawis’ right to decide.
It is essential to advocate the respect of international law, in this particular conflict and in others, as well. International law states that no country has the right to annex other territories by force. Forty-seven years ago, Morocco acted illegally by occupying Western Sahara and expelling hundreds of thousands of Sahrawis from their homes. It is time to stop this violation of international law by ending Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara and returning it to its rightful owners, the Sahrawi people.
In the meantime, humanitarian aid for the Sahrawis in the Tindouf refugee camps must take priority. We call on the UN and the EU to reinforce the aid and food programmes to alleviate the harsh and precarious conditions in which Sahrawi refugees live.
Similarly, Moroccan repression against the Sahrawi population in Western Sahara must be condemned by the EU. The harassment and violations suffered by Sahrawi activists in the occupied territories are extreme. The constant aggressions, including sexual aggression, such as what Sultana Khaya and her family have suffered from Moroccan agents’ or the indefensible violation of rights experienced by 43 Sahrawi political prisoners must stop immediately.
The Left demands that the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which denies to Morocco any ownership over the natural resources of Western Sahara, be respected. We also demand the EU and its member states to recognise the Polisario Front as the sole legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, as ruled by the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The Left expresses its solidarity with the Sahrawi people and its legitimate representative, the Polisario Front. We reiterate our will to collaborate on the path to a just solution based on respect for the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people and international law, according to the UN resolutions.