Rubbing salt in the wound

Most salt production is relatively uncontroversial. Not so in Africa’s last colony, Western Sahara.

The territory has been colonised since 1975 by Morocco, who is illegally plundering its salt and other resources with the complicity of Western governments and companies.

Last year, Norwegian company Mesta rejected a salt deal ‘because of the violations of human rights in the territory.’ But Danish company Dansk Vejsalt continues to buy and sell on Western Saharan salt, in violation of international law.

Selling goods from Western Sahara is a violation of international law unless is it approved by and beneficial to the indigenous population. The Saharawis of Western Sahara do not benefit from this deal, however, and staunchly oppose the plundering of their resources.

Dansk Vejsalt sells its salt to several Danish municipalities, and was negotiating a contract with four others, until Danish NGO Africa Contact contacted the municipalities about the illegality of the deal.

This led first Gladsaxe, and subsequently the three other municipalities, to demand that the deal excluded salt from Western Sahara.

Polisario representative to Denmark, Abba Malainin, appreciates “the courageous stand” of Mesta and the Danish municipalities, as opposed to others who deal with goods from Western Sahara.

“Such deals makes the Moroccan occupation rentable, encourages more human rights violations and complicates the UN’s peaceful plan for Western Sahara”, he says.

The article was published in the March 2015 edition of the New Internationalist

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