“You are stabilising the illegal occupation”: Speech by Khadja Bedati

The spoken word shall prevail.

Dear Sirs and madams,
Dear managing board and supervisory board,

My name is Khadja Bedati, I speak for the Sahrawi Youth and the Association of ethical shareholders.

This is not the first time that I criticize Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy’s wind turbines in the Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, which were erected without the consent of the Sahrawi people. Last year, Mr Kaeser, you referred me to Siemens Gamesa and promised answers that I have not yet received. I am asking you for those answers today, you cannot continue to hide behind your subsidiary, in which you are the majority shareholder with a 67% stake.

I was very pleased that Siemens clarified its view of the legal status of Western Sahara to the NGO Facing Finance last year. In your response, you refer to “wind farm activities in the occupied territory of Western Sahara” and you expressly state your position both for Siemens AG and Siemens Gamesa. Thus you finally accept that Western Sahara is occupied in violation of international law. I would therefore like to know: Why do you apply different business practices to occupied Western Sahara than to Russian-occupied Crimea, with which you do not want to be associated under any circumstances?

I would also like to address the misconception that renewable energy is necessarily sustainable because it cannot be consumed. The wind will, of course, continue to blow in Western Sahara next year, but you are ensuring that most Saharawis will probably never hear that wind blow because they have to live in refugee camps in Algeria. You are stabilising the illegal occupation, thereby ensuring that the Sahrawi people cannot exercise their unquestionable right to self-determination. Your wind farm in Foum el Oeud provides electricity for the phosphate mine illegally operated by the Moroccan state. Your wind farms facilitate the illegal plundering of Western Sahara’s resources, making the occupation of Western Sahara profitable for Morocco.

Apart from that, the “impact assessment for wind farm activities” that you announced to Facing Finance is dispensable. It is completely irrelevant under international law whether and who benefits from your wind turbines; the only crucial legitimising factor under international law is the express consent of the Saharawis or their internationally recognised representative, the Frente Polisario. In this regard, I would like to quote from an article by the NGO Western Sahara Resource Watch, which criticizes the extension of the maintenance contract by Siemens Gamesa in 2018: “Siemens Gamesa’s approach (…), telling the world that the company knows better what the Saharawis want than the Saharawis themselves, is a deeply colonialist attitude, and goes directly against the principle of self-determination”. The rulings of the ECJ [C104/16 P 2016, T-180/14 2018] confirmed once again that only the consent of the Saharawi population can legitimise economic activities in Western Sahara. However, since you are of the opinion that these rulings have no effect on your company, I ask you: In your opinion, which state’s jurisdiction is applicable for “wind farm activities” in Western Sahara?

Of course, the judgments of the ECJ apply first of all to the economic agreements between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco. However, their core statement is imperatively applicable in the complete jurisdiction within the EU. To give just one example: the French company Chancerelle was sued by Polisario 2018 in a French court because it sold Saharawi fish without the consent of Polisario.

In addition, at its people’s congress at the end of December 2019, Polisario took the decision to appeal against all companies investing illegally in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. I therefore ask you: How did Siemens Gamesa obtain the Sahrawi people’s consent for its economic activities in Western Sahara?

At the Polisario Congress mentioned above, the strategic direction of their struggle for selfdetermination was also decided. Almost 30 years have passed since they agreed to the UN ceasefire, which aimed at holding a referendum. This referendum has not yet taken place and the voices calling for an end to the ceasefire are therefore becoming louder and louder, especially among young people. I believe that you are still unaware that, by your actions, you are supporting the blockade of the referendum, thereby increasing the risk of war in the area. How would you react if the ceasefire were to be broken because of Morocco’s continuing delaying tactics towards the referendum?

Siemens Gamesa is now to be merged with the Gas & Power power plant division to form the new company Siemens Energy. Do you think that the investors, who are already critical towards this project, will approve that this new company makes a profit from an occupation that violates international law? What would happen if, for example, the pension fund of the Church of England, which is a member of the Climate 100+ Alliance, which has identified Siemens as a target company, were to align itself with the policy of the state pension funds from Norway and Sweden? Those have removed the operator of the phosphate mine in Western Sahara, OCP, from its portfolio. In other words, the operators of the mine which is supplied with electricity by your wind turbines. Therefore I ask you, Mr. Sen, as the designated CEO of Siemens Energy: Will Siemens Energy take this restructuring as an opportunity to bring its activities into line with international law and withdraw from occupied Western Sahara?

According to your own statement, Mr. Kaeser, by founding Siemens Energy you are abolishing yourself; first of all, abolish the activities of your company that are contrary to international law and that cause so many people suffering.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Answer of Joe Kaeser to Khadja Bedati AGM Siemens 2020:

Ms. Bedati, I promised you answers last year and asked you to contact SGRE, which is also the responsible company. If you have not received an answer to your question, I will this time make sure personally that your questions are answered. I cannot assure you that they will be treated as you understand it, but you will be given an answer. Apart from that, there is nothing to add to the position we took last year, nothing has changed.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.kritischeaktionaere.de/en/siemens-2/you-are-stabilising-the-illegal-occupation-speech-by-khadja-bedati/