Green Sahara

June 1, 2009

I’ve written to a few politicians about the Western Sahara issue in my time. Most don’t reply. The replies that I have received (from Charles Clarke and Andrew Duff) consist predominantly of platitudes assuring me that this issue is being taken very seriously by big important people that know a lot more than I do about how this complicated world works, and that the Right Decisions are being taken on my behalf.

Recently I wrote to the Green Party to ask if they’d consider signing the Western Sahara Resource Watch petition to keep occupied Western Sahara out of the EU-Morocco “Advanced Status” cooperation (in order to prevent European companies and the Moroccan state from benefiting from the latter’s illegal occupation at the expense of the marginalised and often-abused indigenous Sahrawi). Both my local branch of the UK Green Party and the Green Party at the national level have undertaken to sign the petition. I received this from the office of Caroline Lucas, leader of the UK Greens and Green MEP for the South East of England:

Dear Nick,

Thank you for your email about the EU and Western Sahara. Caroline has asked me to respond on her behalf and I am sorry for the delay in doing so. She receives a vast amount of correspondence, so it is not always possible to reply to people as promptly as would like. We also give priority to constituents.

Caroline and the Greens in the European Parliament have been active in opposing Morocco being granted advanced status by the EU. She has lobbied the British government about this and submitted a number of written questions to the European Commission, looking specifically at fishing rights for the Western Saharan people. You can read these via her website at http://www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk/2008/10/01/correspondence-about-western-sahara/ and at http://www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk/2008/11/12/written-questions-western-sahara/

Caroline’s colleague, Jean Lambert the London Green MEP, has also visited Western Sahara to raise awareness of the conditions there. They both support the petition you have sent through so have put it to the Party’s Executive Committee and hope to sign up shortly.

Thank you for alerting us to the campaign by Western Sahara Resource Watch and your commitment to human rights in Western Sahara. Please be assured that if Caroline is re-elected to the European Parliament on June 4th, opposing advanced status for Morocco and pressing the EU to do far more to challenge the illegal occupation will remain a priority for her.

I have to say it was a sheer delight to receive a serious and positive response to such a request – almost enough to restore my faith in domestic politics. So, if you’re in the UK, fed up with venal, expenses-dripping MPs who respond to every demand for change with a platitude crafted by spinners at party HQ, and if you’re interested in voting for a party that has a principled foreign policy stand and which is working for, rather than against, the people of Western Sahara, why not vote Green? Their other policies aren’t bad either.