(Lots of images but text reading time less than 5 minutes)
As Palestinians and their supporters around the world mark anniversaries of the Return to Palestine demonstrations and Land Day, Israeli snipers kill Palestinian children. Dublin marks the day with a solidarity rally and exhibitions and talks by internationally-recognised Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh.
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised a rally to mark the anniversary of the start of the Return to Palestine demonstrations last year and also Land Day. Sadly, marking a Palestinian anniversary usually involves marking the deaths of martyrs and this was no exception, as Israeli Occupation Force snipers killed four demonstrators, three of them 17 years of age.
After the rally, of which I just caught the tail end because of the weekly Save Moore Street From Demolition campaign duty, I managed to catch the exhibition of noted Palestinian political cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh and to buy his book PALESTINE in black and white. Sadly, a prior appointment meant I had to miss his talk, which I would have loved to attend, especially as I dabble a little in cartoon-drawing myself.
Fortunately, Mohammad Saba’aneh was still there and was kind enough to autograph his book for me. When I took a photo of him with Fatin Al Tamimi, photographer and Chairperson of the IPSC, she insisted on taking a photo of me with him too – shukran.
On Thursday, Saba’aneh had also given a talk at the National College of Art & Design, along with Tuqa Al Saraj, also a Palestinian artist but today based in Dublin.
Mohammad Saba’aneh was born in 1978 in Ramallah in occupied Palestine, where he still lives. He is a Palestinian painter and caricaturist who has been imprisoned by Israel because of his art. He has a daily cartoon in the Palestinian newspaper al-Hayat al-Jadida and his work features in publications across the Arab world.
HELPING THE DEAF AND THE TRAUMATISED WITH CARTOONS
Saba’aneh used caricature with deaf students to help them adopt another language to express their feelings and with children who witnessed an Israeli assault to help them psychologically. He took part in many workshops designed for children to develop critical thinking. Saba’aneh was responsible for organizing an international fair at Mahmoud Darwish museum in 2014 in which more than 100 international artists participated. Freedom House chose one of his works in 2016 as one of the year’s most important photos. His first book was published in the US in April 2017.
INTERNATIONAL WORK AND RECOGNITION
Saba’aneh is the Middle East representative for Cartoonist Rights Network International and the Palestinian ambassador for United Sketches, an international association for freedom of expression and cartoonists in exile and participated in many international publications such as The truth has more than one face in Europe and Sketch of Freedom in the US. He. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2017 Marseille International Cartoon Festival Prix d’Or. Pulitzer–winning cartoonist Matt Wuerker described him as “an inspiration for cartoonists around the world.” Noted graphic journalist Joe Sacco has said of this work that it is a “gut punch that gets straight to the essence of the stark reality of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation.”
Thursday 28th March – NCAD (Dublin), 7pm, Harry Clarke Lecture Theatre
Friday 29th March – TCD (Dublin), 3pm, Room LTEE1, Hamilton Building
Saturday 30th March – Dublin, 2.30pm, The Pearse Centre, 27 Pearse St
All of the above now over.
Monday 1st April – Waterford, 7.30pm, The Tower Hotel
Tuesday 2nd April – Limerick, 8pm, Perys Hotel
Wednesday 3rd April – Galway, 7pm, Black Gate Cultural Centre
Thursday 4th April – Maynooth University, 4pm, Venue TBC (Afternoon)
Thursday 4th April – Celbridge, 8pm, Celbridge Manor Hotel
Background information: Wikipedia and IPSC FB page
Una historia de crímenes del fascismo espanol, si nos hacia falta recordarnos de nunca jamás dar les la oportunidad de alcanzar el poder de nuevo. Y nos demuestra además que el fascismo nunca fue vencido en el Estado espanol, sin hablar de haberlo despedido. Sin entender esa verdad no es posible arreglar las problemas del ahí.
He traducido este relato al inglés y subido separadamente.
El miedo asoló Cantalpino, donde las hordas falangistas mataron a una mujer y a 22 hombres; donde se robó y violó. La señora Alejandra cuenta la historia y sus ojos parecen mirar hacia dentro de si misma: “ Aquí asesinaron a muchos y a la Eladia Pérez, la Jaboneta, también. Fueron a buscar a su hijoGuillermo, a quien «pasearon» más tarde, y ella no quiso abrirles; así que el Cagalubias le disparó y la mató; luego la llevaron al cementerio y su cuerpo no cabía en la hoya y el Cagalubias le cortó la cabeza con la pala…los asesinos fueron gente del pueblo y forasteros, falangistas, curas, frailes y hostias. El cura, era de lo peor, daba la bendición a los «paseos»..También les cortaron el pelo al cero a unas cien mujeres y, lloviendo y todo, las sacaron en procesión, la música tocando y los falangistas gritando arribaespaña y vivafranco y… ¡me cago en la madre que los parió!..”
Alejandra sigue con su relato: “..A mi me hicieron muchas, a otras las violaron..A mi me violaron 5 falangistas, sacaron de la cama a mi marido, que en paz descanse, el pobre, y le plantaron una pistola en el pecho, y allí, delante de él, me violaron. Unos me tenían cogida por los brazos y otros, por las piernas, y aquí Santa Inés, a lo que quieran hacer, y las pistolas encima de la cama en presencia de mi Desiderio ¡El pobre Desiderio! Además nos robaron todo lo que pudieron..Si, si, eran de aquí, de Cantalpino. Por desgracia, esta violación no fue un hecho aislado. En Poveda de las Cintas, a pocos kilómetros de Cantalpino, la historia se repitió, esta vez con la mujer del secretario del ayuntamiento..”
El 24 de agosto de 1936 la sangre no paró en Cantalpino, la impunidad de los asesinatos animó a los franquistas. Esa misma tarde se presentaron en Villoruela, a menos de 10 kilómetros de Cantalpino, 3 falangistas acompañados por fascistas vecinos del pueblo: Detuvieron a las siguientes personas: Eustasio Ramos (51 años), Elías Rivas (43), los hermanos Leonardo (43), y Leoncio Cortés(41), Daniel Sánchez (35), Esteban Hernández (29) Francisco García (25) y Benigno Hidalgo (18).
Los fascistas dieron contestaciones de carácter criminal a los familiares de los detenidos cuando iban a buscarles a sus casas: A la mujer de Leonardo Cortés le preguntaron que dónde estaba su marido; ella respondió que no sabía y le contestaron: “No se preocupe, que aunque esté bajo tierra le encontraremos”. Daniel Sánchez había estado jugándose la vida para salvar la de otras personas con sus mulas y su carro para cruzar la riada de la era, sin tener en cuenta de qué color ni de qué partido eran. Cuando le fueron a buscar a casa les dijo la mujer: “Esperen ustedes, que se está quitando la ropa, está todo calado”; la contestación fue: “No se preocupe usted, que lo mismo le va a dar”. Cuando fueron a la casa de Esteban Hernández, les dijo su madre: “esperen, que no tiene calcetines”; la contestación fue: “no se preocupe, que no le van a hacer falta”. Cuando fueron a buscar a Benigno Hidalgo, les dijo su madre: “le tengo que poner una inyección”; “no se preocupe usted, se la vamos a poner nosotros”, le contestaron.
Una vez capturados, quedaron arrestados en el Ayuntamiento atados de pies y manos con cuerdas. Los componentes del Ayuntamiento convocaron una reunión y decidieron que los 8 detenidos debían ser fusilados. Así amarrados, los hicieron subir a un camión en Villoruela, ya pasada la medianoche, y los trasladaron al término de Salvadiós, un pueblo de la provincia de Ávila. Allí, en un cruce de caminos, los fusilaron y los dejaros tirados en una cuneta. Allí mismo los enterraron unos vecinos de Salvadiós. Los asesinos fueron 7 del pueblo, el que llevaba el camión y los 3 falangistas forasteros.
Dos de las mujeres de los detenidas, María Engracia Cortés y Angeles del Pozo, se fueron a pedir ayuda a las monjas del convento. Contaron a las monjas lo que estaba pasando y ellas contestaron que aquello era una cruzada, y que si no habían hecho nada por qué habían estado huyendo, a lo que muy acertadamente las vecinas citadas contestaron: “A Jesucristo también lo persiguieron y por nada lo crucificaron”.
Jaime Cortés, hijo de uno de los fusilados contaba que “..después del sufrimiento que causaron, los fascistas nombraron entre los vecinos del pueblo una guardia llamada cívica para controlar nuestras salidas de casa, las demostraciones de sufrimiento. Nos pasábamos las noches enteras llorando con mi madre y mis abuelos en la cocina..hace falta tener mucha paciencia y resignación para convivir toda una vida con los criminales que fusilaron a tu padre..tuvimos que pasar por calamidades y sufrimientos..he tenido siempre muy presente una frase que mi madre nos decía con mucha frecuencia: “Hijos, no quiero veros nunca con las manos manchadas de sangre”…los únicos motivos por los que los fusilaron tuvieron fueron la forma de pensar diferente al franquismo, es decir, por defender la libertad, los derechos de los trabajadores, la seguridad social y la educación..los fusilaron por defender el derecho más grande de toda persona: la libertad..”
Desde la fecha 15 de agosto de 1936 al 16 de junio de 1939 no existe ningún documento, ni libro de actas de los archivos de Villoruela ¿Quiénes fueron los que hicieron desaparecer dicha documentación? En el libro de actas de defunciones aparecen con fecha 13 de marzo de 1937 inscritos por el juez Iñigo de la Torre estos 8 fusilados como personas como desaparecidas.
A brief account of the fascist horror between Cantalpino and Villoruela (Salamanca) during the Spanish War, forwarded to me for translation from Castillian (Spanish). I will post the original separately.
Comment: If another reason were ever needed to ensure we crush fascism before it gets strong! Stories like this illustrate how fascism was not defeated, much less rooted out in the Spanish State and remains at its heart to this day. No progress can be made towards democracy in that state without taking that fact into account. DB.
(Translator’s note: Villoruela is a municipality located in the province of Salamanca, Castille and León, in western Spain).
Fear ravaged Cantalpino, where the Falangist hordes killed a woman and 22 men; where they robbed and raped. Mrs. Alejandra tells the story and her eyes seem to look inside herself: “They murdered many here and Eladia Pérez, the Jaboneta, too. They went looking for her son Guillermo, whom they “took for a walk” later, and she did not want to open for them; so the bastards shot and killed her; then they took her to the cemetery and her body did not fit in the hole and the bastards cut off her head with the shovel … the murderers were people from the town and strangers, Falangists, priests, friars and that kind. The priest was the worst, he gave his blessing to the “walks” .. They also cut the hair of about a hundred women to the scalp and, in the rain and everything, they took them in procession, the music playing and the Falangists shouting “Up Spain!” and “Long live Franco!” and … I shit on the mother who gave birth to them! “
Alejandra continues with her story: “… they did a lot to me, they raped others. Five Falangists raped me. They took my husband out of bed, may the poor man rest in peace, and they pushed a pistol against him, in the chest, and there, in front of him, they raped me. Some had me by the arms and others, by the legs, and here, Saint Ines, to what they wanted to do, and the guns on the bed in the presence of my Desiderio. Poor Desiderio! They also stole everything they could. Yes, yes, they were from here, from Cantalpino. Unfortunately, this violation was not an isolated incident. In Poveda de las Cintas, a few kilometers from Cantalpino, the story was repeated, this time with the wife of the secretary of the town hall .. “
On August 24, 1936 the blood did not stop in Cantalpino, the impunity of the murders encouraged the Francoists. That same afternoon they appeared in Villoruela, less than 10 kilometers from Cantalpino, 3 Falangists accompanied by fascist neighbors of the town: They arrested the following people: Eustasio Ramos (51 years old), Elías Rivas (43), the brothers Leonardo (43) , and Leoncio Cortés (41), Daniel Sánchez (35), Esteban Hernández (29) Francisco García (25) and Benigno Hidalgo (18).
The fascists gave criminal replies to the families of the detainees when they went to look for them at home: Leonardo Cortés’ wife was asked where her husband was; she replied that she did not know and they answered: “Do not worry, even though he were underground, we will find him”. Daniel Sanchez had been risking his life to save the lives of other people with his mules and his cart to cross the flood, regardless of what color or what party they were. When they went to look for him at home, the woman said to them: “Wait, he is taking off his clothes, he is all wet”; the answer was: “Do not worry, he will get it all the same”. When they went to Esteban Hernández’s house, his mother told them: “wait, he does not have socks”; the answer was: “Do not worry, he will not need them”. When they went to look for Benigno Hidalgo, his mother told them: “I have to give him an injection”; “Do not worry, we’re going to give it to him,” they replied.
Once captured, they were arrested at the City Hall tied hand and foot with ropes. The members of the City Council called a meeting and decided that the 8 detainees should be shot. So bound, they were put on a truck in Villoruela, after midnight, and they were moved to the end of Salvadiós, a town in the province of Ávila. There, at a crossroads, they were shot and left lying in a ditch. Right there they were buried by neighbors from Salvadiós. The murderers were 7 from the town, the one that drove the truck and the 3 outsider Falangists.
Two of the detainees’ wives, María Engracia Cortés and Angeles del Pozo, went to ask for help from the nuns of the convent. They told the nuns what was happening and the nuns answered that this was a crusade, and that if they had not done anything why had they had been fleeing, to which the neighbors correctly answered: “Jesus Christ was also persecuted and though had done nothing, was crucified. “
Jaime Cortés, the son of one of those shot, said that “after the suffering they caused, the fascists appointed among the townspeople a policeman, allegedly civic, to control our movements from home, the demonstrations of suffering. We spent the whole night crying with my mother and my grandparents in the kitchen .. it takes a lot of patience and resignation to live a lifetime with the criminals who shot your father .. We had to go through calamities and sufferings … I always remembered very well a phrase that my mother told us very often: “Children, I never want to see you with blood on your hands” … the only reasons for which they were shot were their way of thinking differently from the Franco regime, that is, to defend freedom, the rights of workers, social security and education … they were shot for defending the largest right of all person: freedom .. “
From the date August 15, 1936 to June 16, 1939, there is no document or record book of the Villoruela archives. Who were the ones who made that documentation disappear? In the book of death certificates for March 13, 1937 the entry inscribed by the judge Iñigo de la Torre these 8 people shot dead are listed as missing.
Originals by Ángel Montoro in Jiminiegos36 and Foro por la memoria (Intervíu nº 177, 4-10 October 1979). Photo by Xavier Miserachs
In March this year, the Irish State signed up to join PESCO, the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation military force. The Irish State’s armed forces are a now a part of it and, in a sense, so is every person in Ireland. It is a military alliance with other states and that changes our neutrality stance to which we have held since the creation of the State.
On the afternoon of 15th January this year, I attended a protest against PESCO in front of the Dáil, feeling a little guilty because it was the first such I had supported. We were few in number and, among the protesters, though I recognised some of them from other events, there were none I would associate with Irish Republican or Socialist groups – perhaps a few associated with the Communist Party.
My neglect and that of others is a pity. They may feel that other issues are more pressing but that surely does not prevent an occasional attendance. They may feel that there is nothing to be done – the decision was made by the Government a year ago, with the support of Fianna Fáil. But if something is wrong and we can’t for the moment end it, we should never acquiesce to it, by agreement or by silence.
FIRST STEP TOWARDS A SINGLE EUROPEAN ARMY?
PESCO is an EU agreement on military cooperation. It is not a European Army, according to its supporters in public. Not yet, according to its opponents – but it is a big step on the way there. The European Commission has committed €1.5bn to PESCO projects by 2020, and Ireland will be obliged to boost its spending on personnel and weaponry. With such a budget in its early stages this is clearly no small project.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU Commission and the man who favours an EU army, was rejoicing at the sign-up to PESCO and was quoted as saying of it: “She is awake, the Sleeping Beauty of the Lisbon Treaty.” Yes, we remember the Lisbon Treaty don’t we? ‘Just keep voting until you vote the way we want you to’!1
When I cycled near to Kildare Street on Dawson, I found the south end blocked by Gardaí. I turned back pushing the bike and went up Frederick St. South, left into Setanta Place and found myself blocked by Gardaí again. I had to turn back and work my way into Molesworth Street, which runs from Dawson Street to the Dáil, facing the main entrance. There were Gardaí here too but at least they were only turning away vehicular traffic. The small group of protesters were gathered by the metal barriers at the east end of Molesworth Street and I joined them there.
All these ‘security’ operations for the anti-PESCO protesters? No, of course not but there was a bigger demonstration expected later, protesting about a range of injustices (I didn’t stay for it).
Protests at the Dáil have become so frequent in recent years that a new type of barrier has been employed. These cannot be easily separated or unhooked and the have steps built into them at regular intervals – on the Garda side. “They’re so the bastards can stand on them and baton protesters”, explained one of the demonstrators. Indeed.
Those who support our participation in PESCO justify it on the grounds of defending Europe and that, if we are a part of it, we should help defend it. No doubt a number of Army professionals relish the thought of playing with big weapons and the big boys.
People in opposition to our involvement say if Europe should be attacked then we have a choice of whether to join in its defence and that should be made democratically, whereas PESCO brings us in by stealth.
DEFENCE – OR AGGRESSION?
Of course, states always claim that their armies are for defence. The USA, currently and for some time the most aggressively military state in the world, calls its ministry for military affairs the “US Defence Department” and its protege, probably the most aggressive state after the USA, calls its army the “Israeli Defence Forces”2.
Regarding a ‘defence’ of Europe, we might ask: against whom? Possibly against Russia, it is sometimes said. Russia has imperialist ambitions, of course but is that any different from France or Germany? Or the UK? Even the USA is hinted at as an enemy of the EU and it certainly a competitor.
Irish Army soldiers are ideal for sending into conflict areas, as the UN has found because, apart from military considerations, it has no imperialist past, ostensibly no axe to grind. Which of course is not strictly true, since the Irish State has traditionally sided with the USA on many issues and with the EU on others. But not militarily, at least not yet (apart from the Congo, that is, in the 1960s)3.
Contributing to a European Army however puts Irish soldiers in the field under EU direction and the EU is certainly a capitalist and imperialist mutual alliance, under the control essentially of Germany and France. The Spanish State faces possible future military conflicts with some nations within the state as does the French State, which also has involvement in a number of African states. Italy too may face such conflicts in future. A number of other European states also have economic interests in states in Africa and even some of the seemingly cleanest are major arms exporters.
PESCO is of course an EU military alliance and a first step towards an EU army and Ireland joining it is undermining its traditional neutrality. Irish soldiers will be mobilised in EU military offensives against regimes the EU finds awkward, whether in support of the USA for example, as many EU states did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, or possibly against former colonies of France and Spain, with new governments, taking measures to safeguard their natural resources. Our country’s involvement in such operations will of course render us a possible target for terrorist action here in Ireland.
I think more people should protest against PESCO, even if occasionally. I will make sure I do.
1The Irish State signed up to the Lisbon Treaty of the EU in October 2009, following a referendum majority vote earlier that year in favour of the necessary amendment to the Irish Constitution. However, a majority vote in an earlier referendum in 2008 had voted to reject that amendment. A ‘no’ vote in Ireland could have finished the Lisbon Treaty for the whole EU and Ireland was the only state to hold a referendum on the question. After the first referendum, a campaign of State and media propaganda had pushed for a second referendum and achieved a 20% swing in favour in the 2009 vote, reversing the previous popular verdict.
2Apart from its attacks on Palestinians, Israel has attacked Egypt (with France and the UK, over control of the Suez Canal), Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and has carried out assassinations in and bombings of a number of other states; it is also constantly rattling its sabre at Iran.
3The Belgian state engineered a breakaway of Katanga Province from the new Republic of the Congo which, led by Patrice Lumumba, had declared independence in 1960 and was intending to protect the state’s natural resources. Katanga had copper mines. The Belgian state armed a rebel army run by a warlord and also supplied military expertise in the form of European mercenaries and seconded officers. The USA supported the breakaway (as did France) and the UN brokered a very imperfect ceasefire which the rebel army and the Belgian state had no interest in observing. The Irish Army were deployed there as part of the UN peacekeeping force, undermined and badly supported. Nine Irish soldiers were killed in ambush by tribesmen who did not support the secessionists and had seen their villages burned by European mercenaries as a result. More about it here: http://www.theirishstory.com/2016/10/07/the-irish-army-the-un-jadotville-and-the-congo/#.XIZa1SOLRsM
Protesters calling for the urgent construction of public housing marched through Dublin today. Various organisations and many independent activists took part in the protest with a broad range of people took pat, from socialist to republican-orientated, some with their children. The event was organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition.
On their Facebook page, the NHHC had issued a statement, part of which read:
“Rebuild Ireland has been an unmitigated disaster yet the cross party motion that was passed in the Dail in October that called for practical actions that would end the emergency, including making it illegal to evict someone into homelessness, were ignored by the government even though it was supported by all parties except Fine Gael. We are demanding action on the motion.
“We also learned that 15 Dublin hotels received over €1m each in 2018 for accommodating homeless families which further illustrates the reliance on the private sector. These families need public housing built on public lands, they need proper homes. Last year there were 842 cases of children being discharged from the Temple Street Emergency Department back into homeless emergency accommodation. The majority of these cases were a direct result of the fact that these children are living in completely unsuitable and cramped emergency accommodation.”
The march, though far from small, seemed somewhat smaller than expected which may have been due to a cold windy day with lashing rain a little earlier in the day but may also have had another cause. The Coalition of groups has split with ICTU (Irish Council of Trade Unions) and a number of NGOs pulling out to form a different campaign on housing, apparently declining to support the demand for public housing on public land.
The organisers of today’s march published a list of demands:
• Declare the housing and homelessness crisis an emergency. • Provide a minimum of 10,000 public house a year. No to privatization: build public houses on public land. • Make housing a constitutional right. • End evictions, bank repossessions and sell-offs to vulture funds. • Create a national Traveller accommodation agency to oversee and deliver Traveller Accommodation. • Legislate for real security of tenure, real rent control and affordable rents. • End the use of B&B’s and hotels for emergency accommodation. Improve emergency accommodation facilities and provide security for all in need. • Create rent pressure zones for Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA). Ensure tenant’s rights for students in PBSA and digs-style accommodation.
One group set off from the GPO and after making a circuit on O’Connell Bridge, marched along the north quays, meeting up with another group coming across Butt Bridge to join them from the Housing Agency HQ; apparently another group had marched from City Hall. The march continued on to Samuel Becket Bridge, to the bemusement of some participants, where the participants halted and were addressed by a number of speakers.
Along the route of the march, slogans were shouted, among which were:
“Raise the roof, not the rents!” and “Housing is a human right!”
As well as Socialists, a number of Republicans were in evidence, marching without party banners. Sinn Féin supporters had a banner and party flags, as did People Before Profit and the Workers’ Party. Some Union of Students in Ireland flags were in evidence too. A Travellers’ group and some community groups also carried banners identifying their group with the march and its cause.
On Tuesday March 5th a meeting in the Teachers’ Club, Parnell Square, was addressed by representatives of the Western Sahara people and by experts in human rights matters.
Western Sahara, a territory of 266,000 square kilometers (103,000 sq. miles) in the Maghreb, was part of Europe’s carve-up of North Africa, when it was known among most states as Spanish Sahara, in acknowledgement of the European state that occupied it. Its people speak Arabic and Castillian (Spanish) and some also speak French, an influence from neighbouring French ex-colonies. Few speak Berber.
The UN General Assembly in 1964 called on Spain to hold a referendum there which the Franco fascist regime declined to do but in 1975, after the dictator’s death, the new regime pulled out of the territory, practically handing it over to Morocco and Mauritania. After a conflict between those two states, Morocco emerged as the sole occupier and the conflict since then has been between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Saharawi people, who seek independence.
Chaired by Mark McLoughlin, filmmaker, the Dublin meeting had been arranged at short notice and its advertising further hampered by cancellation of a booking at Trinity College.
TRACING THE PLUNDER OF SAHARAWI NATURAL RESOURCES
Erik Hagen, of Western Sahara Resource Watch, with a display projected on a screen, showed how his organisation traces the ships arriving at the territory and departing with phosphates mined there to their destinations. From the registered tonnage of the ships, the amount of phosphates plundered can be calculated. The companies involved claim that they are doing no wrong, since they pay Morocco for the cargoes.
But according to the UN, no state may extract resources from a disputed territory without the consent of the people. Hagen talked about how EU had changed the wording to replace “consent of” with “being of benefit to” and then went on to effectively falsify agreement on ‘benefit‘, using a document on consultation with huge majority – and a total of Saharawi organisations – voting against as evidence for.
The only company currently exploring for oil in Western Sahara is San Leon, an Irish company, although they failed to find any and are currently fighting in financial difficulties.
Clive Symmonds, expert in international law talked about the policy of isolating produce from occupied territories, by first compelling their labeling as such, which, although that would not ban the products, would facilitate a ban if such were decided. The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 introduced to the Oireachtas (Irish legislature) and currently being processed with cross-house support despite Government opposition, is an example of how such a ban may be implemented (and Senator Black’s Bill will also be valid for Western Sahara). Of course, as Symmonds pointed out, such labeling is left to the exporter which in this case would be the Kingdom of Morocco.
Symmonds also referred to the EU Fisheries Agreement which, in permitting fishing within what Morocco claims as its territorial waters without reference to the Saharawi people, is permitting the plunder of the Saharawi people’s fish stocks – and the Irish State is a party to this, having signed the Agreement. Symmonds pointed out that the judgement of the European Court of Justice on 21st December 2016, stated that Western Sahara is a “separate and distinct” territory from Morocco and that trade agreements between the EU and Morocco do not apply to the occupied territory. The EU is in violation of this judgement.
“A REFERENDUM IS THE ONLY DEMOCRATIC WAY”
Mohamed Belsat, Frente Polisario Ambassador to Europe, talked about the policies of the Irish state, the EU and, in particular, France. Belsat said that they were in collusion with the Kingdom of Morocco and that in particular, France often seemed to be the opponent of the Saharawi people even more than Morocco.
Referring to what he said was the only democratic of ascertaining the will of the Saharawi people, Belsat said that it was a referendum. Morocco had called for this since they had flooded Western Sahara with Moroccans but, since the process of registration of genuine and historical residents of the area had been completed by the UN, the Moroccan Kingdom had withdrawn all support for a referendum.
“The cost of the occupation to the Moroccan kingdom is huge, in terms of military presence maintenance and so on,” Belsat said, adding that the cost of every litre of water supplied to the occupation forces was equal to four times the price of a litre of whiskey.Furthermore, the cost to the Kingdom exceeded the benefits it extracted from the colony. In January, Morocco had at last joined and signed up to the constitution of the African Union, the organisation of African states, of which Western Sahara is a founding member and which has a long-standing position on Western Sahara being an occupied colonyFor all these and other reasons, including dissatisfaction with the regime among the Moroccan general population, he felt that a campaign of pressure on Morocco and on the EU might well bear fruit in terms of the decolonisation of this “last colony in Africa”.
Later, Belsat’s response to a question from the audience amounted to an admission that there was no “peace process.” (sic) in operation (despite a reference to it by a number of speakers) and that as a result of this and the conditions under which they were kept by their oppressors, it was increasingly difficult to restrain the youth from resorting to armed resistance. At this a member of the audience commented that armed struggle against the army of the Moroccan Kingdom backed up by France would be “suicidal”.
“57 POLITICAL PRISONERS BUT MANY MORE HAVE DISAPPEARED WITHOUT TRACE”
ElGhalia Djimi, Vice-President of ASDH (Saharawi Association of Victims of grave violations of human rights by the Moroccan State), which cooperates with the League for the Protection of Western Sahara Political Prisoners in Moroccan Jails (LPPS), who had arrived in Ireland that day, made her presentation next. Speaking in French through a translator, Djimi talked about the conditions of life under occupation for the Saharawi people. Djimi showed a compilation of clips of soldiers, police and people in civilian clothes physically assaulting protesting Saharawi women, pulling their hair, punching and kicking them and informed the meeting that those in plainclothes were Moroccan police.
“There are 57 Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan jails,” ElGhalia Djimi said, “but many more that have disappeared without trace.”
Unemployment is high among the Western Sahara people and as a result of that and other deficiencies in their lives, a drug problem has arisen, she told her audience. There are no third-level education facilities in the territory, obliging them to go to institutions in Morocco. Although they can study to gain professional qualifications for civil employment, those available are not usually those required by the employers, which is not true for their equivalent in Morocco, with the result that often Moroccans fit into the administrative jobs better than do the Saharawi people. In terms of their treatment by the authorities, all Sahawaris carry a Moroccan ID card but letters on it indicate their ethnic origin (which Belsat likened to the Nazi State’s requirement that German Jews by identifiable in their national ID documentation).
Moroccan citizen settlement in Layoune, the capital of Western Sahara, had now placed the indigenous people, once the majority, in a minority.
SOLIDARITY IN DUBLIN
In conclusion of the speakers’ presentations, Mohamed Belsat asked for support from the Irish people with their “history of struggle for freedom and solidarity with other struggling nations”‘
A couple of members of the audience mentioned that there had been an active solidarity committee with Western Sahara in Dublin in the past and one wondered about the possibility of resuscitating it.
Comment: The solidarity Committee in Dublin was independent of any political party or organisation, its name was Western Sahara Action Ireland and its FB page is still in existence. Between 2011 and 2012, the group organised a number of public events, including: two protests about Moroccan repression of Saharawi protesters, one in Dame Street and another in O’Connell Street; a protest against the EU’s Fisheries Agreement outside the Dublin offices of the EU in Dawson Street; the construction and maintenance of a “Western Sahara Tent” at the Electric Picnic of 2012, along with an exhibition of photographs taken in the territory. The latter was visited by Michael O’Higgins who was then campaigning for the Presidency of Ireland (he also appeared in the film shown at the beginning of public meeting in Dublin).
On each of the Dublin street events, a small group of Moroccans had attended to harass and attempt to intimidate the protesters, almost certainly sent by the Moroccan Embassy but their efforts were to no avail.
There had been many uprisings against colonial rule in the history of Western Sahara and the last Rif War, from 1920 to 1927, had cost the Spanish State military 23,000 casualties, of which 18,000 were fatalities. Only for the intervention of the French1, the forces led by Abd el Krim would have kicked the Spanish colonialists out of the footholds to which they were still clinging.2
Like the French in their North African colonies, the Spanish occupiers had suppressed risings not only by military force against insurgents and torture of captives, including electric shocks, but also by terror against the civilian population, including assassinations, massacres, rape and internment without trial.
Both European states also developed their own Foreign Legions. Forget about the 1924 Beau Geste novel by PC Wren and the various screenplays3 to which it gave rise; the Foreign Legions were tough terrorists in uniform, founded not to fight in open war but against resisting colonial peoples.
Since 1963, Western Sahara has been on the United Nations’ list of “non self-governing nations”. In 1965, the UN General Assembly, in its first declaration on Western Sahara, called on the Spanish State to decolonise the territory and, in 1967, to hold a referendum on self-determination but Spain refused. From 1973 to 1975, the Frente Polisario fought an armed struggle for national liberation.
After the Spanish State abruptly pulled out in 1975 (following the death of its fascist dictator General Franco) and – without allowing elections of an independent Saharawi government before doing so – it relinquished control to the Kingdom of Morocco (which had formally claimed the territory since 1957) and Mauritania and conflict broke out between those states. Mauritania in time abandoned its claim and Morocco moved in and seized Western Sahara.
The Saharawi people protested Morocco’s occupation of their land and were suppressed by military and police. The Frente Polisario fought the occupying Moroccan military from 1975until a UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991, since which there has been no Saharawi armed struggle but plenty of Moroccan repression. One of the features of the struggle was the displacement of a large part of the Saharawi population as people fled the Moroccan military, many to Algeria (which had won independence from France in 1962 after a fierce and dirty war), where they remain in a refugee camp. The Moroccan Kingdom then built a wall to prevent Saharawis from returning, which it guards by troops and miles of landmines.
1The casualties of the French, according to Wikipedia, amounted to 10,000 with 2,500 killed in battle. The casualties of the insurgents and of the indigenous civilian population, as usual in these situations, is difficult to determine but, according to Wikipedia, came to 30,000, of which 10,000 were fatalities.
2For more on the Rif War 1920, read the article about it (see link in Resources and Useful Links).
3Including those of 1939 starring Gary Cooper and Ray Miland, 1966 with Telly Savalas and Doug McClure and the BBC serial of 1982.
With thanks from Dublin Anti-Internment Committee’s FB page End Internment
DUBLIN PICKET PROTESTS CONTINUING INTERNMENT IN IRELAND WHILE EXPRESSING INTERNATIONALIST SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIAN PRISONERS.
PALESTINIAN Y0UNG WOMAN PRESENTS PICKETERS WITH BUQUET OF FLOWERS.
HUNGER STRIKER MARTYRS OF 1981 REMEMBERED.
On a cold and wet late Saturday afternoon (2/03/2019) in Dublin city’s main thoroughfare, O’Connel Street, hurrying shoppers and tourists were treated to the sight of protesters outside the General Post Office. One group was flying small flags of a green, white and orange tricolour but not the Irish one – the colour bands were horizontal.
The other group flew a larger tricolour, the Irish national flag, the colours horizontal – and also a Palestinian flag. One of their banners was an enlargement of the cartoon by Brazilian graphic artist Carlos Latuff , showing an Irish hand reaching through prison bars to clasp that of a Palestinian, also emerging through bars.
The first group was of Indians in a protest related to the current tensions between the states of Pakistan and India, while the other had been organised by the Dublin Anti-Internment Committee and was supported by other Republicans and unaligned socialists. The presence of both outside the GPO was a coincidence and they were separated by a little distance.
INTERNMENT WITHOUT TRIAL CONTINUES IN IRELAND
One of the monthly pickets of the DAI Committee to raise awareness of the ongoing internment in Ireland, the picketers combined their action with expressing solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners of which many are held without charge, in “administrative detention”.
In Ireland, there are other kinds of “administrative detention” but they are not called that; instead they go under the names of “revoking of licence” and “refusal of bail”.
The first category relates only to the occupied Six Counties, where those political prisoners were released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement; however their licence may be revoked at any time in which case the unfortunate person will be brought straight to jail without trial and held there indefinitely. This has been the fate of a number of former prisoners who remain Republican activists. One of those, Tony Taylor, was released without charge at the end of November last year, having spent nearly a thousand days in custody.
The second category and by far the most common, both in the British colony and the Irish state, is that of refusing bail to Irish Republicans while they await trial on as yet unproven charges. In these circumstances the accused, if judged “not guilty” at their trial, may have spent more than two years in prison by that time. A recent example of refusal of bail was that of Republican activist Alan Lundy arrested for alleged armed burglary on 18th February, despite an alibi apparently confirmed by CCTV footage placing him 40 miles away at the time and highly contradictory evidence from the alleged victims.
The intention of these totally undemocratic measures is an attack on the basic civil rights of Republicans to peacefully organise and to assemble in protest. When bail is granted, the intention is made clear since regularly the conditions attached are that the accused wear an electronic tag, may not participate in political meetings or demonstrations and must observe a curfew. Furthermore, the accused are brought before the no-jury Special Courts of both administrations, where special rules of “evidence” apply.
The Dublin Anti-Internment Committee maintains that these measures amount to internment without trial, a continuation of the policy in which courts are used, as Brigadier Kitson of the British Army proudly declared, as “a propaganda cover for the removal of unwanted members of the public”.
The Dublin Committee has also repeatedly pointed out that these measures are a danger to the civil rights of any and all movements of opposition to the State or its policies and should therefore be opposed by all democratic people, whatever their particular political alignment might be.
FLOWERS PRESENTED FOR SOLIDARITY
The picketers distributed leaflets to passers-by, some of which took photographs. Two young women who had taken photographs returned a second time, one of them presenting a bouquet of flowers to the surprised protesters. She said that she was doing so in gratitude for she was of Palestinian backround.
There are approaching 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, of which around 170 are held without trial, in “administrative detention”.
REMEMBERING THE HUNGER STRIKES
At a certain point during the event, the picketers took up black flags and displayed them until the end of the event in remembrance of the ten dead hunger-strikers of 1981 (seven Provisional IRA and three INLA). March 1st was the anniversary of the first day of the hunger strikes of that year fighting British attempts to paint them as criminals, when Bobby Sands embarked on his 66 days of hunger, the first of ten Republican political prisoners to give their lives. Bobby Sands, revolutionary and poet, died on May 5th and over 100,000 people lined the route of his funeral in Belfast, protests took place throughout much of the world and official marks of respect were given, including a statement of solidarity by Palestinian prisoners of the Israeli State. During his hunger strike Bobby Sands had been elected an MP to the British Parliament and two more, Kieran Doherty and Paddy Agnew, were elected members of the Dáil (Irish Parliament) in Cavan-Monaghan, while Joe McDonnell was narrowly defeated in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency.
These events had long term effects even in electoral politics. The British changed electoral law to prevent prisoners ever being elected again (Representation of the People Act 1981), Sinn Féin became a predominantly constitutional party and every Irish Government since 1981 has been a coalition of some kind.