Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Political prisoners pray for church help against illegal drill plans of Dallas company

A group of Saharawi political prisoners, some serving lifetime, has launched an appeal to the church communities of Texas to denounce Kosmos Energy's plans to drill in their occupied homeland, Western Sahara.

Dallas-based Kosmos Energy has struck a deal with the Moroccan government to begin test-well drilling in the waters adjacent to Western Sahara before the end of 2014.

Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975, and today exerts military control over three quarters of the territory. The United Nations consider Western Sahara to be a Non-Self Governing Territory; a colony. The International Court of Justice stated that Morocco has no legal ties to the territory, and no State in the world recognises Morocco's untenable claims over the land. A UN Legal Opinion of 2002 calls any exploration or exploitation of Western Sahara's resources in violation of international law if not undertaken in accordance with the wishes and the interests of the people of the territory - the Saharawi people.

The Saharawi people, who have an internationally recognised right to self-determination, have repeatedly called on Kosmos Energy to refrain from drilling in their occupied waters. Their concern is that the industrial and economic activity to result from oil production will only entrench an illegal and violent occupation, thereby hindering an already tense UN-led peace process.

The latest protest in line comes from a group of Saharawi political prisoners, all imprisoned on the back of the so-called Gdeim Izik mass protest, directed against Morocco's marginalisation of Saharawis in their own land while continuing to plunder their resources. 

"Kosmos Energy has a unique chance to create peace; by refraining from drilling until the voice of the Saharawi people has been heard. But if the company decides to go ahead, without respect for our rights, it will only aggravate an already horrific situation", the prisoners write in their letter.

Download the full letter to the Texas churches here: http://wsrw.org/a105x3021

In absence of a single shred of evidence against them, apart from confessions extracted under torture, the signatories of the letter, all civilians, were condemned to severely harsh sentences - ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment - by a Moroccan military tribunal on 17 February 2013 on charges relating to violent resistance against Moroccan military forces who on 8 November 2010 violently dismantled the Gdeim Izik protest camp set up by Saharawis a month earlier at a desert site just outside of Western Sahara's capital city El Aaiun. 

International organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch stated that the trial did not meet internationally recognised standards for a fair trial and call for their release.

Read more about the Kosmos Energy's illegal drill plans in the occupied country here: http://www.wsrw.org/a105x2977

For further questions or comments regarding the company's operations, contact Western Sahara Resource Watch (www.wsrw.org)

 Charles Liebling, USA coordinator (New York): lieblingc@yahoo.com or +1 917 309 4956

Erik Hagen, Chair (Oslo) : info@vest-sahara.no or +47 452 65 619

Sara Eyckmans, International Coordinator (Brussels) : coordinator@wsrw.org or +32 468 22 1440


Western Sahara Resource Watch

www.wsrw.org
www.fishelsewhere.eu