Campaigners today have dismissed the unfurling of the world's biggest flag in occupied Western Sahara as a political stunt by Morocco and demanded that Guinness World Records strip them of the record which they were awarded on 9 May. The giant 20 tonne, 60,000 square metre Moroccan standard was laid out in Dakhla, Western Sahara and Guinness World Records sent a judge to authenticate the record. But campaigners from Europe, America and Australasia have pointed out that Western Sahara is classified by the United Nations as a non-self-governing territory and that Moroccan claims to sovereignty over the country have been dismissed by the International Court of Justice and have not been recognised by a single nation.
Last week Guinness World Records were contacted by campaigners who said that by authenticating the record they were legitimising the unlawful occupation of Western Sahara and requested that the record be rescinded. A spokesperson for Guinness responded stating that “our task is to measure, count, monitor all world records. We are not in a position to comment on the political nature of things - we simply document the world around us.”
Stefan Simanowitz, Chair of the Free Western Sahara Network, said today:
“Under international law, the situation of Western Sahara is unambiguous. Morocco does not have sovereignty over the territory. The UN has passed over a hundred Resolutions reaffirming the inalienable right of the Western Saharan people to self-determination. If Saddam Hussein had unfurled a giant Iraqi flag in Kuwait in 1990 I am confident Guinness would not have flown out a judge to measure it. By sending a judge to authenticate a record attempt that has clear political overtones, Guinness cannot claim to be non-political. By authenticating this record they are effectively legitimising an illegitimate occupation and we ask that the record be rescinded.”
This press release is issued by:
Free Western Sahara Network - www.freesahara.ning.com
Western Sahara Campaign Uk - www.wsahara.org.uk
Australia Western Sahara Association – www.awsa.org.au
Africa's last colony
Since 1975, three quarters of the Western Sahara territory has been illegally occupied by Morocco. The original population lives divided between those suffering human rights abuses under the Moroccan occupation and those living in exile in Algerian refugee camps. For more than 40 years, the Saharawi await the fulfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.