Cross-party political group denied access to Western Sahara
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A group of youth politicians, from the very right to left in Norwegian political landscape, were refused to travel to Western Sahara at 3PM today by Moroccan police.
Published 24 January 2017


Above (from left): Martin Strand-Münter, Lyder Johan Ovesen, Marte Næss Thomassen Elisabeth Garlie Udjus, Theodor Barndon Helland. Click on image for high resolution version. Free use.

"Moroccan police has now refused us to enter Western Sahara through all routes", said Theodor Barndon Helland.

Mr. Helland is a politician of the government-party of Norway, the Progress Party. Together with other politicians from Norway, he was this afternoon denied entry into Western Sahara.

In a police checkpoint north of Guelmim, at 1PM, the police told him that the road further south was "blocked", and that they had to take another route to travel southwards.

"The police suggested we had to take a 2,5 hour long detour to continue on the journey, along the coast to Sidi Ifni. It was obviously a lie, as the there was traffic in both directions along the road we had been driving on", Mr. Lyder Ovesen, city council representative of the Kristiansand city, of the Labour party.

The group of five chose to follow the advice, but after an hour and a half, they were ordered by a checkpoint to not continue along that route either.

"All roads are blocked for us in to Western Sahara, even though there is traffic in both directions", Ovesen said.

Western Sahara has ben partially occupied by Morocco since 1975. The people there are promised a referendum under UN auspices. Those working for that referendum are exposed to serious violations of human rights.

"It is a good thing that Norwegian authorities urge Norwegian companies to not do business in Western Sahara. It is crucial that this people has a possibility to freely decide over their own resources and tertory. But then it is sad to observe that companies from Norway take part in Morocco's exploitatino of the resources", Ms Elisabeth Garlie Udjus, of the Green Party told.

She particularly mentions the shipping company Gezina from Farsund, which has transported millions worth of fish oil from the territory. A Gezina shipment of fish oil arrived France yesterday, the first after a EU judgement on such trade.

"As long as Western Sahara is under occupation, and Morocco has lifted an iron curtain around the territory, Norwegian businesses have nothing to do there", Marte Næss Thomassen, city council representative in Arendal city, told.

The group tried to travel to Western Sahara to talk with local activists both regarding the human rights situation and about the involvement of Gezina AS.

Over the course of the last three days, 28 other Norwegians, and 1 Swede, have been either thrown out of the territory, or denied access.

The group consists of:
  • Theodor Barndon Helland, Progress Party
  • Lyder Johan Ovesen, Labour Party
  • Marte Næss Thomassen, Labour Party
  • Elisabeth Garlie Udjus, Green Party
  • Martin Strand-Münter

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