Danish government zigzagging over Western Sahara

Danish Minister for Trade and Investment, Pia Olsen Dyhr, says that Denmark will not support or subsidize Danish companies that operate illegally in Western Sahara.

A month ago, the Minister was rather less adamant when replying to a letter from Danish solidarity movement, Africa Contact. “The government will not oppose Danish companies operating in areas such as Western Sahara, but the External Action Service is reluctant to actively support such activities.”

In a response to the Danish Committee on Foreign Affairs in March, however, Pia Olsen Dyhr now says that “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has no tax-financed programmes or undertakings that seek to promote Danish business interests in Western Sahara, nor does the Ministry have any plans of such undertakings. Based on a concrete enquiry by the Danish Export Credit Agency (EKF), concerning whether the EKF could risk assess Danish investments in Western Sahara, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs discouraged the EKF from working in areas, such as Western Sahara, where the question of sovereignty is presently unresolved.” Read more of this post

Siemens makes illegal windmill deal in occupied Western Sahara

The German multinational, Siemens, has landed an order for the construction and maintenance of 22 windmills to be built in a wind farm in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. The order is part of a larger deal with Moroccan company Nareva Holding.

“The wind farm is expected to be commercially operational in the summer of 2013” and the order includes “supplying, installing and commissioning the windmills, as well as 5 years service,” according to a press release from Siemens.

The problem is that, according to international law, it is illegal to trade or dispose of resources in occupied Western Sahara Read more of this post

Swazi students demand justice

“Life without scholarships is impossible. The socio economic situation in Swaziland dictates that no parent can afford to pay tertiary fees. Denying students scholarships is denying them a future.” President of Swaziland’s Students’ Representative Council, Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, is talking about the planned cuts in education funding and students’ scholarships that will leave many already struggling Swazi students virtually destitute.

The students therefore plan to close down all tertiary education institutions next Wednesday and stage a peaceful protest march to deliver a petition to Minister of Labour and Social Security, Lufto Dlamini. Read more of this post

UN unsustainability in the Tindouf Refugee Camps

The UN says that it seeks sustainability in its work and programmes, that it seeks “integration of the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in policy-making at international, regional and national levels”.

And the UN’s Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says on its website that “UNICEF has worked from its founding on nutrition programming aimed at fulfilling every child’s right to adequate nutrition,” because “good nutrition benefits families, their communities and the world as a whole.”

But these principles have seemingly not been applied in the Tindouf refugee camps. Here approximately 150.000 Saharawis have been in a desert exile for 35 years, since their homeland, Western Sahara, was invaded by Morocco. Read more of this post

SUDF salutes united Swazi trade federation

“SUDF humbly wishes to welcome and salute the launch of TUCOSWA [the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland] as the giant labour federation in our country Swaziland. This comes at a time when unity and cohesion in the working class is of paramount importance,” the Swaziland United Democratic Front, an umbrella organisation of all progressive democratic forces in Swaziland, said in a statement yesterday. Read more of this post

Maxwell: Tak for jeres støtte!

”Ord kan ikke beskrive hvor taknemlig jeg er. I har vist at solidaritet er mere end bare erklæringer og politisk retorik. I har ydet os en langt mere praktisk støtte i kampen imod [den enevældige konge] Mswati’s regime. At vi [Maxwell og hans medanklagede, studenterlederen Musa Ngubeni] blev løsladt mod kaution skete ikke fordi regimet pludseligt fik et anfald af godhed, men gennem jeres fortsatte kamp, der gjorde at Mswati bukkede under for presset,” udtaler Maxwell Dlamini til Afrika Kontakt.

Maxwell er præsident i Swaziland National Union of Students, som Afrika Kontakt samarbejder med. Han blev for nyligt løsladt mod kaution, efter at have blevet tortureret ved simuleret kvælning, truet på livet, og anklaget for besiddelse af sprængstoffer under sidste års opstand i Swaziland. Read more of this post

Maxwell: I was tortured

“I was tied to a bench with my face looking upwards and they suffocated me with the black plastic bag with a huge police officer on my stomach. They [Swazi police] asked me where the guns were and who was going to come to Swaziland to overthrow the king. They did that over and over again till I collapsed. They told me that they will kill me for causing trouble in the country and organizing the April 12 uprising,” Swazi student leader Maxwell Dlamini tells Africa Contact in a statement about his arrest, remand and court case.

Maxwell was arrested, tortured and charged with possession of explosives in connection with the Arab Spring-inspired “April 12 uprising” in Swaziland in 2011. Read more of this post

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