By Peter Adejobi
A solidarity protest for the decolonization of Western Sahara (the last colony in Africa) was held on 1st of June 2015. The Western Sahara which is being colonised by Morocco is situated in North-West Africa. It is bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the north-east, Mauritania to the east and South and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It has a land size of 266000sq km, with a population of 500,000, mostly nomads.
Morocco has illegally laid claim to Western Sahara despite the clear advisory opinion rendered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 16 October 1975, affirming that it had not found any legal ties of such a nature between Western Sahara and its neighbouring countries that may undermine its right to self-determination.
However, many years after the court’s affirmation, the agitation for self-determination and freedom of the Western Sahara still remains an issue. It is in view of this, that the solidarity march for the independence of the Western Sahara was organised.
The solidarity protest was organized by the Nigeria Movement for Solidarity with Western Sahara. The Movement comprises: Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian Students from the University of Abuja and Nassarawa State University, Amilcar Cabra Ideological School (ACIS), Centre for Popular Education (CEPED), Partners for Electoral Reform, Socialist Workers League (SWL) and the Protest to Power Movement.
The Protest march was led by the Acting President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Kiri Mohammed. The protest aimed at intensifying pressure on the Nigerian Government, the African Union and the United Nation for the de-colonization of Western Sahara. It was also to demonstrate that the working people of Nigeria stand steadfast with the Saharawi people in their struggle for independence.
The protest march of over 2,000 persons moved through the city of Abuja, from the Central Area to Asokoro with singing and chanting of solidarity slogans and with protest music blaring from mobile loudspeakers. The first point of call by the protester was the Moroccan embassy located in Asokoro.
At the Embassy, efforts to enter were rebuffed by team of security personnel. All attempts to get the attention of the Ambassador or any other representative to receive the message brought by the protesters proved abortive. However, the message was later read by Comrade Kiri Mohammed in company of the ASUU President, Comrade Nasir Faggae Isa and the human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN. After reading the message, the letter of protes was thrown into the premises of the Moroccan embassy.
The protesters then proceeded to the United Nations office at the other side of Asokoro. At the United Nations office, the leaders of the delegation were only received at the entrance of the premises by the officials of the UN. Comrade Kiri Mohammed also presented the message to the UN officials. The message in clear terms included the following demands:
1. Morocco, European and American allies must stop colonial domination of Western Sahara now.
2. Europeans and American Powers should stop stealing Sarahawis phosphate and fish.
3. UN should stop the Human Rights abuses in Western Sahara.
4. Stop colonization in Africa: free Saharawi people now!
5. African Governments must fulfil their historical duty to end colonization on the continent.
6. African Leaders must not betray the Africans of Western Sahara.
7. United Nations must stop procrastination and conduct referendum now!
8. Total independence for Western Sahara is not negotiable.
It should be recalled that in 1991, the United Nations established the United Nations Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara. Its mandate was to implement a peace plan outlined in a 1990 UN Security Council resolution. In September 1991 a UN brokered ceasefire in a peace plan which provided for a transition period leading to a referendum in January 1992 for Western Sahara to choose between independence and integration with Morocco.
While the ceasefire held, the mission was never deployed nor was the transition period ever completed. American and European companies continue to exploit the natural resources of the Western Sahara and are not concerned about its self-determination. The ceasefire allowed Morocco to go for the Saharawi’s jugular allowing the country to bleed gradually, but must we allow Western Sahara to bleed to death?