Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Activists warn Kosmos Energy's plans to explore for oil in Western Saharan waters will “put the final nail in the coffin of the Sahrawi people.” Sahrawi activists have clammed Texas oil company Kosmos Energy for plans to explore for oil off the coast of the disputed territory of Western Sahara. “By starting oil drilling operations off Cape Bojador, your company would damage world peace, and hurt the Saharwis and their just cause,” the Sahrawi Center for Media and Communication (SCMC) said in a letter to the company. A copy of the letter was obtained by teleSUR on Wednesday. Kosmos is expected to begin drilling off the Western Saharan coast later this year, according to Reuters. The company claims its exploration is legal under international law. “Kosmos' activities are focused on exploration and do not involve the removal of resources; and have yet to provide conclusive evidence as to whether hydrocarbon resources, sufficient to justify development, are present,” the company has stated. On its website, Kosmos states it is “working with the Kingdom of Morocco” to “ensure that if commercial deposits were to be discovered offshore Western Sahara, they could be developed in a manner that both reflects international best practices on resource management and transparency as well as complies with international law.” However, according to the SCMC, Kosmos' dealings with Morocco are at the heart of the problem. “All your negotiations and deals were conducted with the Moroccan authorities and not the Sahrawis. This can only mean lack of respect for the rights of the people,” the activist group told the company. Kosmos was granted exploration rights by Morocco's natural resources and mines ministry, while the Sahrawi say they have been left in the cold. “It is illegal for international companies to operate in the land and coastal waters of Western Sahara without the consent of its people and without them being consulted and benefiting from these business operations,” the letter asserted. "The Sahrawi people, living under the brutal yoke of the Moroccan occupation and their exiled relatives living in Algerian refugee camps, oppose Kosmos' plans. They fear that if oil is found in their occupied homeland, Morocco will never abandon its unfounded claim on their country." However, according to an article from the Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), the company appears to be pressing ahead with drilling. The WSRW reported on Tuesday the oil rig commissioned by Kosmos to drill off Western Sahara's coast is “now slowly making its way to the occupied waters.” “In a few weeks time, the rig may permanently damage the Saharawi people's aspirations to freedom and independence, as it commences unethical and illegal oil drilling in Africa's last colony,” WSRW warned. Kosmos is the first company to drill for oil in Western Sahara. "The Sahrawi people, living under the brutal yoke of the Moroccan occupation and their exiled relatives living in Algerian refugee camps, oppose Kosmos' plans. They fear that if oil is found in their occupied homeland, Morocco will never abandon its unfounded claim on their country," WSRW has warned. The term “colony” refers to Western Sahara's legal status as the last non-self-governing territory in Africa. Most of Western Sahara has been subject to a Moroccan occupation since 1975, when Rabat launched a military invasion. Morocco claims Western Sahara is an integral part of its own territory – though this is disputed by the Sahrawi independence movement, the Polisario. Although the Polisario has historically enjoyed overwhelming support of the indigenous inhabitants of Western Sahara – the Sahrawi – it only controls a thin strip of the country's eastern desert. Morocco holds the coast, and all of the territory's major settlements. Moroccan security forces in Western Sahara have been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including repressing Sahrawi culture and freedom of speech. Activist groups including the SCMC say international investment in the occupied west provide Morocco with an economic incentive to resist Sahrawi calls for a referendum of self-determination. “By joining hands with Morocco, you are consolidating its sovereignty over Western Sahara,” the SCMC told Kosmos. “This is exactly what Morocco needs to put the final nail in the coffin of the Sahrawi people,” they warned.
Saharawi Center for Media and Communication sends a Complaint letter to Kosmos Energy about Oil Drilling in Western Sahara.
Saharawi Center for Media and Communication Elaaiun, Western Sahara Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: September 19th, 2014 Mr. William Hayes Senior Vice President, Government Affairs Kosmos Energy Ltd. c/o Kosmos Energy LLC 8176 Park Lane , Suite 500 Dallas, Texas 75231 USA RE: Complaint Letter about the illegal upcoming Oil Drilling in Western Sahara. Dear Sir, We are writing to you to let you know that we are Sahrawis from the Moroccan controlled side of the occupied territory of Western Sahara, and we strongly denounce your company’s decision to start oil drilling in the coastal waters off Western Sahara, namely in the Cape Bojador, Boujdour block zone. It is our conclusion that your company’s decision will bring great damage to the Saharawi cause and it is thus rejected by all Sahrawis. Kosmos Energy has no right to conduct business in Western Sahara. Formally, it is illegal for international companies to operate in the land and coastal waters of Western Sahara without the consent of its people and without them being consulted and benefiting from these business operations. Such illegal business is also a direct threat to the whole peace settlement as it puts at stake the right of self-determination by ignoring international law and legality. On February 5th, 2002 in a letter made public at UN Headquarters in New York, the senior UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell responded to a Security Council request for an opinion on the legality of certain contracts signed by Morocco with foreign companies to explore for mineral resources in Western Sahara. Mr. Corell determined that oil prospecting by foreign companies in disregard of the interests of the people of Western Sahara – the Sahrawi people – would violate international legal principles dealing with territories administered by another country. The Legal Counsel also concluded that as such the specific contracts of the time dealt with in the Security Council’s request were not in themselves illegal. If, however, further exploration and exploitation activities were to proceed without respect to the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara, the contracts would be in violation of the international legal principles dealing with non-self-governing territories. We are now at that point. The Sahrawis believe strongly that your company has neglected then and you did not count them as stakeholders. This is a terrible mistake and very bad for business. In the joint declaration with the Moroccan agency involved, posted on your company’s web site, there are many misleading declarations and statements that will only stir problems and political and social unrest in the territory. Your company’s action will only bring instability to the region and will surely affect neighboring countries. All your negotiations and deals were conducted with the Moroccan authorities and not the Sahrawis. This can only mean lack of respect for the rights of the people. Most Sahrawis interpret your action as an incitement for violence and hatred as you only care about how much you will make at the expense of the Sahrawis and their long lasting misery and suffering. The whole affair is unethical and calls for immediate action from your side to put things back on track to prevent yet another human tragedy in Northwest Africa. By starting oil drilling operations off Cape Bojador, your company would damage world peace, and hurt the Saharwis and their just cause. By signing an exploration agreement with Morocco, you are going against international efforts to find a just and a mutually accepted solution for the conflict. Also, by joining hands with Morocco, you are consolidating its sovereignty over Western Sahara. This is exactly what Morocco needs to put the final nail in the coffin of the Sahrawi people. You once spoke about "substantial recent progress in resolving the political situation" in Western Sahara to ease things and to present your company as a fortune stimulator, but this is untrue given that the UN led negotiations and peace plan remain a deadlock and things are not very promising as far as a near future solution. If no further action is taken, Sahrawis might consider resorting to international law to assert their rights and to stop your company’s unethical business in occupied Western Sahara. We think that it is time your company considered the matter afresh, and whether unethical potential revenues can ever be balanced against the obvious risks to the Sahrawi people. Please accept the assurances of our highest consideration and the hope of the Sahrawi people that your company will reconsider its decision. We look forward to your early reply in this crucial matter. Signature, Saharawi Center for Media and Communication Elaaiun, Western Sahara