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International Press
Divesting from All Occupations
Martes, 18 de Septiembre de 2012 13:48
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In response to ongoing violations of international law and basic human rights by the rightist Israeli government of Benyamin Netanyahu in the occupied West Bank and elsewhere, there has been a growing call for divestment of stocks in corporations supporting the occupation.

Modeled after the largely successful divestment campaign in the 1980s against corporations doing business in apartheid South Africa, the movement targets companies that support the Israeli occupation by providing weapons or other instruments of repression to Israeli occupation forces, investing in or trading with enterprises in illegal Israeli settlements, and in other ways. Although human rights activists recognize such tactics as a legitimate form of nonviolent international solidarity with an oppressed people, right-wing groups supporting the occupation as well as some more moderate organizations concerned about the strident anti-Israel tone of some divestment supporters have denounced the movement.

Still, the campaign has scored notable successes.  One target of the campaign has been the Caterpillar company, which has provided Israeli occupation forces with bulldozers that have illegally demolished thousands of Palestinian homes. In recent months, TIAA/CREF— the leading provider of retirement benefits for those in the academic, research, medical, and cultural fields—has removed Caterpillar from its Social Choice Fund. The influential Morgan Stanley Capital International has delisted Caterpillar from its World Socially Responsible Index, and the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation has joined a growing list of groups which have divested stockholdings in the company. At the recent General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, a resolution to divest from Caterpillar, along with Motorola and Hewlett Packard, for their complicity in the occupation was defeated by the narrowest of margins.

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The Netherlands: Western Sahara products are not Moroccan
Lunes, 03 de Septiembre de 2012 12:50
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The new WSRW report ‘Label and Liability’, launched today, documents how produce from the controversial agro-industry in the occupied territory, ends up in the baskets of unaware EU customers.


Western Sahara Resource Watch and Emmaus Stockholm
17 June 2012

On July 1, a new agricultural agreement between the EU and Morocco is expected to enter into force. Its vague territorial scope will allow greater volumes of fresh produce from occupied Western Sahara to enter the EU market.

A new report from Western Sahara Resource Watch launched today documents how produce from the controversial agro-industry in the occupied territory, ends up in the baskets of unaware EU customers. The products are made on plantations owned by the Moroccan King or French-Moroccan conglomerates.

“The income and the employment that these rich lands generate only benefit the occupying power. It directly undermines the UN efforts to solve the conflict”, stated Sara Eyckmans of Western Sahara Resource Watch.

The report, ‘Label and Liability’, reveals furthermore how the industry is blooming under a systematic false country of origin reporting, which leaves the customers in the dark.

Download the report here.

“There is a systematic mislabelling of tomatoes from the occupied territories in EU supermarkets. This is in direct violation of a key EU directive which gives the consumers the right to be properly informed on the country of origin of the products”, stated Eyckmans.


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A Brush with Morocco's Secret Police in Laayoune, Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara
Martes, 28 de Agosto de 2012 14:09
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Despite his civilian dress, there was no mistaking the secret police when he reached across the front passenger seat of the Toyota , to block the lens of my 17 year old daughter Mariah's Nikon from recording the  beating of a woman by  his colleagues, uniformed and not. Mariah's shutter was too fast for him, so he lunged further in an attempt to snatch the camera, grazing her face. Mariah was fine. The woman was not.

A few hours later, Front Line Defenders Director Mary Lawlor and Eric Sottas, Founder of the World Organization Against Torture, went to the local hospital, where they visited the bloodied and bruised victim, Soukaina Jed Ahlou, President of Sahrawi  Women Forum.

As witnesses, we were not alone. A handful of women in multicolored melhfas—the traditional Sahrawi garb, a 20 feet of printed fabric wrapped around the body head to toe—surrounded their sister protester, as the police harangued them. We saw one local policeman in blue uniform. Then there were the handful of thugs, identified to us by local human rights leaders as members of the DST, or Morocco’s version of the Stasi. In addition, there were the two plainclothes informants who had been following us all day—when Mariah took their pictures, they tried to shield their faces and then one ducked behind his car. Two of the brutes planted themselves in front of the windows of our car, partially blocking our view of the beating. The third one cursed Mariah, called her an unprintable name, and blocked her camera with his hand.


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Morocco denies shameful beating of woman human rights defender
Martes, 28 de Agosto de 2012 13:33
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I got news that police were breaking up and beating demonstrators. News came that a woman human rights defender had been badly injured and was asked would I like to see her. I went to the hospital with Eric Sottas, where I took this photo, as she lay waiting to be treated. Her name is Soukainajed Ahlou and she is President of the Forum for Sahrawi women. She was quite badly injured- bloodied and bruised. There seem to be some internal injuries according to a scan taken - I am waiting for exact details.

In an extraordinary coincidence, the car carrying Kerry Kennedy passed the demonstration en route to another meeting. Kerry's 17 year old daughter Moriah quickly took photos including the one of the policeman beating Soukainajed Ahlou. In an attempt to stop her, the policeman reached into the car to grab the camera and in doing do hit her on the face.

Today in the media the Morrocans denied the police beat Soukainajed Ahlou but this time we are witnesses with photographic evidence.

There is nothing unusual about this beating. We have spent 2 days listening to the stories of daily humiliation and fear the Sahrawis live under. Beatings are part of what they expect at demonstrations. Human rights defenders have countless cases they have documented and as a result are regarded as an enemy of the state. They are hugely courageous given the total disregard the Moroccan Government show to their legitimate non violent work in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders - to which Morocco espouses to be a party.

Source: Frontlinedefenders

Abajo en Español ...

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Press Releases Kerry Kennedy to lead human rights delegation to Western Sahara
Jueves, 23 de Agosto de 2012 12:25
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(Washington – Aug. 20, 2012) Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center), will lead a human rights delegation with distinguished international human rights advocates to Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara and to Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria from August 24 to 31. The objective of the visit is to assess the human rights situation on the ground.

Since 1975 there is an ongoing conflict between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front, a national movement committed to self-determination for the Sahrawi people.  Because of the conflict, the Sahrawi people were divided in two, those living under Moroccan control and those living in refugee camps in Algeria.  In 1991, the United Nations established a peacekeeping mission to oversee a cease-fire between the two parties and to conduct a referendum. After 21 years of its creation,  the UN Mission for the Referendum of Western Sahara –MINURSO, has not been able to realize the referendum and does not have a human rights mandate, in spite of the concerns raised by the international community about human rights violations.

"Our delegation will seek to assess the human rights situation on the ground by speaking to human rights defenders, government authorities, and ordinary families split apart by this conflict," said Kerry Kennedy.  "We hope to raise attention to this issue and support the establishment of a human rights mandate for the UN Mission."

Members of the delegation include: Mary Lawlor, Director, Front Line Defenders; Margarette May Macaulay, Judge of the Inter American Court of Human Rights; Eric Sottas, former Secretary-General, World Organization Against Torture; Maria del Río, Board of Trustees of the Jose Saramago Foundation; and Marialina Marcucci, President of the RFK Center  – Europe. RFK Partners for Human Rights Director Santiago A. Canton, Advocacy Director Marselha Gonçalves Margerin, and Advocacy Associate Stephanie Postar will accompany the delegation. The RFK Center will prepare a report, including observations from delegation members, after the trip concludes.

The RFK Center has met with representatives of all parties to the conflict in Washington, D.C. and appreciates the cooperation received.

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