SAN FERMINES 2019: RETURN OF THE OLD REGIME AND THE BATTLE OF THE FLAGS

Introduction and translation by Diarmuid Breatnach

The San Fermines Festival in Iruña (Pamplona in Castillian) is renowned around much of the world for its colour and also danger with the running (corrida) of the bulls. But for many years it has been the occasion and site of sharp political struggle and there have been other dangers too.

ANTI-BASQUE NATIONALISM IN NAFARROA

          Although the city is Basque, centre of the medieval kingdom of Nafarroa (Navarre), it was run for decades by UPN (Union of Navarrese People), what some considered the Basque version of the Partido Popular, post-Franco Spanish political party founded by the Dictator’s supporters. Although in 2008 UPN broke from its fraternal relations with the PP, the party remains Spanish-unionist and conservative, strongly opposed to Basque independentism and wishing to remain separate from the rest of the Basque Country, whether the other three southern provinces or the three across the French border.

During the Spanish Republic of 1936, the ruling political interests in Nafarroa broke with the Basque nationalists and opted for supporting the military-fascist coup of Franco and the other three generals – the reactionary Nafarroan Carlists murdered 3,000 Basque nationalists, republicans, communists, anarchists and social democrats in their province alone. They also took part in fighting as part of the military-fascist forces.

For many years, the first day of the San Fermines festival has been the scene of struggle between those who sought to bring the Basque national flag, the Ikurriña, into the main square, to be present during the launch of the week of festivities. And beatings and for Basque independentists have resulted, even fines and jail sentences, especially when they have been successful.

But in the elections of 2015, a coalition of political parties of Basque independentism, nationalism, and left-social democracy took power in the Navarrese regional Government and began to change matters on a number of fronts. In 2017 the Ikurrina was flown from the official balcony and the the Spanish Government Delegation in the region took a judicial case against those responsible and the same people in 2018, EH Bildu, refrained from flying it, displaying instead a bare flagpole. However, that coalition lost its majority of seats in the elections this year and the UPN came back into power, with the resumption of ‘business as usual’.

ASSAULT AND RAPE

          In recent years, another menace has come to the fore, with some men assaulting women in the press of the crowd. Most horrifying was the multiple rape of an 18-year-old woman on July 7th, during the San Fermines festival of 2016. The woman, who approached a few men to help her find her way and was apparently under the influence of intoxicants, was led into a doorway, her phone taken off her and raped in a number of ways by each, who also videoed the event and put it up on the Internet. Due to the description to the Nafarroan police by the victim and their promotion of their act on social media, the perpetrators were soon arrested. But they were tried not for the more serious crime of rape but for sexual abuse, because she appeared not to resist and therefore no violence was necessary to restrain her – a feature of Spanish law.

The group of five violators and rapists had given themselves the boastful title of La Manada (the Wolf-Pack) contained a Spanish Army soldier and a Spanish Guardia Civil policeman among its members. And they on a previous occasion filmed themselves having sex with an intoxicated woman on the flat bed of a truck and put that too out on social media.

Gang-rapists, the self-styled La Manada (“the wolf-pack”) (Photo source: Internet)

The Pack claimed that their victim was willing but found it difficult to explain that she had only met them seven minutes before the assaults or their taking of her mobile phone and some other matters and were found guilty and sentenced to nine years jail but allowed bail when they appealed. Since their appeal might find them not guilty, one might argue that they were entitled to bail while awaiting the hearing.

BASQUE AND CATALAN INDEPENDENTISM V. RAPE

          However, the youth from Alsasua (Basque town in Nafarroa), who were accused of assaulting off-duty Guardia Civil policemen who entered a Basque independentist late-night bar as a provocation in October 2016, were not only kept in jail while awaiting trial in Madrid but also four of them while awaiting an appeal hearing (against sentences of between two and 13 years jail!). And the Catalan independence grass-roots campaign leaders and elected politicians who were charged with sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds for organising a referendum on independence in October 2017, were kept in jail until their trial and are there still, now awaiting judgement. They include one who was elected an MP while in jail and another who was elected an MEP (Jordi Sanchez and Oriol Junqueras).

Many aspects of the Manada case led to an outcry over the whole Spanish state. Although the Prosecution had asked for sentences of 22 year and 10 months, they were sentenced to nine year jail. On December 5th 2018 their sentences were confirmed to those nine years, although two judges on the panel disagreed, wishing for sentences of a little over 14 years as they felt that there had been intimidation and coercion, there had been “degrading acts” and she had been left half-naked on the ground with her mobile phone taken (and memory cards removed). The five-judge panel however ordered the first court that tried them to issue another sentence for the filming and publishing of the rape as her privacy had been violated. The Defence lawyer has indicated that his clients would appeal the sentence as did also the City of Iruna (Pamplona).

THE BATTLE OF THE FLAGS

The town square of Iruna/ Pamplona, traditional site of the launch of the San Fermines folk festival, this year showing, despite threats of the UPN Mayor, Ikurrinak and banner against the dispersal of Baque political prisoners prominently displayed.
(Photo sourced: publico.es)

Translation of short article in Publico.es

          In the end, the ikurriña was present. The images of the first Sanfermines after the return of the Right to the City Council of Pamplona are already crossing the world and they do it with the ikurriña and the flag of Navarre displayed among the public. The earlier threats of Mayor Enrique Maya (UPN) had no effect, nor did the police deployment in the surrounding area.

Under an intense sun and in a crowded square, the txupinazo (firing of ceremonial rocket — Translator) of the Sanfermines – the act that marks the beginning of the festivities — took place at 12.00 o’clock. Minutes before, (many of) the attendees managed to deploy a ikurriña of great proportions, accompanied by the Flag of Navarra. A white placard also appeared in which the return of the ETA prisoners was demanded (i.e end of the dispersal of independentist prisoners all over the Spanish state — Trans).

“UPN, kanpora” (UPN, out!) was heard in the square when the Mayor was on the balcony. A few days before, Maya had issued a notice announcing that entering with fabric of large proportions was strictly forbidden, citing security reasons. However, the same Councilor said shortly after in an interview in the newspaper El Mundo that there would also be “a device” to prevent the EH Bildu councilors unfurling the Basque flag on the balcony of the town hall.

POLICE SEIZURE OF FLAGS

          One hour before the txupinazo, journalist Gara Aritz Intxusta reported by Twitter that local police had seized “150 small ikurriñas that were going to be used in a kalejira” (festival parade) that was going to be performed in the streets of the city to protest against the Mayor’s party.

Source: https://www.publico.es/politica/ikurrina-acto-presencia-sanfermines-gritos-upn-fuera.html

Video posted 2013

of daring event as the hour for the launch approached, Basque independentists in “disguise” of anglers, cast a line across from the rooftop on one side of the square to the other and then a stronger line was taken across with a giant ikurrina attached. One can see earlier, police rushing to confiscate a flag or banner and a giant political prisoners’ banner being held above many in the crowd. In 2013 the UPN Mayor deliberately delayed the launch past the traditional hour of noon so as to give secret police time to cut the line and not to have it happening with the Ikurrina hanging over the square.

End.

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WORKING CLASS IN LONDON RESIST RELIGIOUS RESTRICTIONS

On 24th June 1885 the UK Parliament passed a number of laws, allegedly for purposes of religious compliance but which impacted almost uniquely on the working and lower middle classes.  On 24th June the workers mobilised to protest these laws, congregating in Hyde Park, where the aristocracy and their admirers in the capitalist class paraded.  Karl Marx was there — click on this link for his report: Workers’ demonstration 24 June 1855 in Hyde Park

EUROPEAN UNION TAKES A STEP TOWARDS FASCISM

Diarmuid Breatnach

The General Secretary of the EU prevented two newly-elected Catalan independentist MEPs from collecting their credentials.

Puigdemont & Comin, campaigning for one of the Catalan independentist parties, Junts per Catalunya.  (Image sourced: Internet)

https://www.elnacional.cat/en/news/puigdemont-european-parliament-mep-elect_389599_102.html?fbclid=IwAR1OttxCYNaubBYGGA9C8M0KIdkbUaCdldPQd6fXsBdP72ox6UszBumMfEE

The European Parliament this afternoon prevented former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and former Minister Toni Comín from collecting their credentials as MEPs after Sunday’s election.

On Twitter, Puigdemont wrote: “The European Parliament’s Secretary General has given instructions that neither Toni Comín, Oriol Junqueras nor myself can go through any formalities as MEPs. No legal reason. Pure discrimination. All the other MEPs-elect have been able to do the processes they’ve blocked us from. Disgraceful!”.

El secretari general del Parlament Europeu ha donat instruccions que ni @toni_comin, ni @junqueras ni jo puguem fer cap tràmit com a eurodiputats. Cap raó legal. Discriminació pura. Tots els altres electes han pogut fer els tràmits que a nosaltres ens han impedit. Vergonya!” pic.twitter.com/xqwNWe2K0O
Carles Puigdemont (@KRLS) 29 de maig de 2019

Spain has not yet officially provided the Parliament with the names of the MEPs elected on Sunday. The successful candidates have, however, been called to appear in Spain’s Congress on 17th June to swear loyalty to the Spanish Constitution.

Speaking to media outside the Parliament, Puigdemont said they were told the reason they couldn’t complete the formalities was that Spain hadn’t yet furnished this list. Spain’s other MEPs-elect, however, did manage to do what they needed to today, for example Diana Riba, second behind Junqueras on ERC’s list, partner of prisoner Raül Romeva.

Also able to collect their credentials were Ciudadanos’ new MEPs, for example former president of the Balearic Islands José Ramón Bauzà: “Very happy after my first day in the European Parliament as an MEP,” he wrote on Twitter.

Contentísimo después de mi primer día en el Parlamento Europeo como Eurodiputado. @ALDEParty ya está en pleno funcionamiento y @CiudadanosCs será la clave para construir la mejor Europa que hayamos conocido nunca!?￰゚ヌᄌ?￰゚ヌᄎ pic.twitter.com/mThaEjlegG

José Ramón Bauzá ?￰゚ヌᄌ?￰゚ヌᄎ (@JRBauza) 29 de maig de 2019

 

Clare Daly and Mick Wallace campaigning for election as MEPs
(image sourced: Internet)

 

COMMENT:

The MEPs who were prevented by the Secretary General, Klaus Welle, from collecting their credentials at the EU Parliament, have three things in common (apart from being elected by hundreds of thousands of citizens of an EU member state):

§ They are Catalan

§ They are national independentists

§ They are or have been sought by the Spanish State in politically-inspired criminal proceedings

But other Catalan MEPs have been able to proceed without problems. That they are independentists, then? Well, no, because for example Diana Riba (partner of political detainee Raül Romeva), who came second behind Junqueras on ERC’s list, collected her credentials without difficulty. It seems to me that the last one of the three characteristics is the relevant one. Klaus Welle wants to prevent having MEPs in the EU Parliament who are being sought by their state for politically-inspired criminal proceedings.

It is extremely doubtful that Welle has taken this step without the ruling interests of the EU being in agreement – or at least, without him believing he was acting in accordance with their wishes. If he does not have their agreement or has misjudged it, he will soon be given cause to regret it. But if we assume for the moment that he is ‘on the same page’ as the EU leadership, we must ask ourselves: what does this barring of elected MEPs to the EU Parliament mean?

Some may see it as the President of the EU respecting the wishes of the government of a member state (in this case, of the Spanish state). But with regard to MEPs elected by hundreds of thousands of votes of citizens of an EU member state? Besides, since when have the EU rulers been so considerate of the wishes of a member state? Have they not time and time againpbut the interests of the collective, which is to say in effect of the EU ruling states, above those of an individual state?

It seems to me that the significance of this action is that the rulers of the EU do not want political prisoners or political “fugitives” elected as MEPs. Since they cannot at the moment prevent their election, they are blocking their access to the body to which they were elected.

They are looking ahead, to days when they may have to take similar action in other cases: MEPs elected by independentists from Sardinia, Corsica, Brittany, the Basque Country (either side of the Pyrenees), Galicia, Andalucia, Flemish Belgium, Scotland, Ireland – in cases where they are jailed or sought by their state’s government. After all, as EU President Jean-Claude Junker inferred, if Catalonia is allowed to secede against the wishes of the Spanish state, those in other European states might do the same. And as he actually said, he did not want “an EU of a hundred states”.

So much for independentist MEPs but the implication here goes much further with special dangers for socialists and all democrats. I take just one Irish example. Clare Daly is a left-wing member or Deputy (in Ireland called TD, “Teachta Dála”) of the Irish Parliament (the “Dáil”) and was successful in the EU elections in May, so that she is now an MEP.

Clare Daly, TD, shown in front of the Dáil — could Left-wing MEPs be barred also if avoiding detention of their Government?
(image sourced: Internet)

In 2014, Daly and her partner Mick Wallace (also by the way a TD and close to be elected MEP in a recount), carried out a protest trespass on to Shannon Airport land to call for the Irish State to take action in accordance with Irish constitutional neutrality and prevent use of the airport by the US military for refueling to transport soldiers, munitions, equipment and political prisoners.

Both Tds were tried and, in 2015, convicted and fined. They refused to pay the fines and after also declining to surrender to the court, were detained by police to be brought to jail (in the end, they were merely shunted around the country in police custody for a day).

Let us suppose that Daly, instead of allowing herself to be detained by the Gardaí (police of the Irish state) decided to take refuge in some European state and that the Irish State failed in extraditing her. And supposing further, that Daly were elected as MEP while this situation continued. Then the EU Secretary General could take exactly the same action with Daly as he has with the Catalan MEPs in question.

All genuinely socialist and/or democratic people should vigorously protest this barring of the Catalan MEPs.

End

TRAGEDY AND THE CONDEMNATION BANDWAGON

(Comment: Approximate reading time 5 minutes)

Diarmuid Breatnach

A woman dies; she was young, a tragedy. Where did this happen and when? In Derry on Thursday evening. How did she die? Apparently (and I say that advisedly, for I do not know the examining doctor‘s verdict nor has an inquest yet been held) by a gunshot to the head. And according to a number of witness statements, she did not have a gun herself and therefore the bullet came from someone else.

THE CONTEXT

          All this and more has been reported in unanimity. What was the context? Ah, there we have to do some digging.

There was a riot going on at the time – there were petrol bombs and stones thrown at the police. Oh, why? Well, some of the early reports didn’t even try to answer that. But later, we were told: the police were searching houses for IRA arms. The police had “a tip-off”, some papers reported.

OK, now we’re getting somewhere. Reading between the lines, if we know enough about the general situation, we can reconstruct a probable narrative: British armed colonial police were searching the homes of Irish Republicans in ‘nationalist’ areas, just before their Easter commemoration, a commemoration during which they attacked another Republican group in Newry last year and one which was for decades banned under the Special Powers Act in the Six Counties – a ban enforced violently by the forerunners of the very police force carrying out those house searches on Thursday.

And it turns out, as admitted by senior PSNI command and reported in only some media outlets, including the Irish Examiner, that the purpose of the police raid was harassment: PSNI officers were carrying out a search operation in the Creggan area of Derry aimed at disrupting dissident republicans ahead of this weekend’s commemoration of Irish independence.”

And we might know, though not from the general media, that the colonial police have been carrying out these raids on numerous occasions of late, as well as stopping cars of Republican activists and searching them, stopping people out walking and searching them too, as well as questioning them about where they are going and where they have been. Most people of course won’t know that – how could they?

So now that we have context, we might see the rioting as a justified response, even natural perhaps, of a colonised people to provocation and harassment by a militarised police force of a colonial occupation. And a colonial administration with a long history of atrocities by the occupying power. Or we might not – but context gives us the opportunity to interpret, while its absence leaves us bewildered or manipulated.

If we take the view that the people are justified in resistance, does that excuse the killing of the woman in question? No, not at all. But it does take us some way to understanding the situation and perhaps we wouldn’t want to see Irish Republicans as monsters then.

Lyra McKee’s death is a tragedy, as is the premature death of any innocent person and particularly a young person. The Six Counties too, that repressive backward statelet, can ill afford the loss of an LGBT campaigner.

Firing a gun in that situation was highly irresponsible and unnecessary. The shooter (or shooters) could not be sure of hitting a police officer and did, in fact, hit a totally innocent bystander. And if the police had fired back, the shooter(s) would have put everyone around them in mortal danger too.

CONDOLENCES AND CONDEMNATIONS

            Saoradh, an Irish Republican organisation active in the area who were involved in preparing for the Easter Rising commemoration in Derry felt they had to cancel the event after the death. They issued a statement providing context for the riot and also extended condolences to the bereaved family and friends. Most media didn’t quote the relevant parts of the statement and some never even mentioned it.

On Saturday, their representative at their Easter Commemoration outside the GPO building in Dublin repeated the statement and amplified it, saying also that the IRA was not always right and, when they erred, they should apologise for it. The media didn’t report that either.

The media rushed, not to report the shooting and its context, but to condemn Irish Republicans who don’t agree with the Good Friday Agreement, i.e the ‘dissidents’. The BBC, in its first report on line, along with some others, called it a “murder”. Were they justified in saying that?

In law, not all homicides can be called murders.  According to Wikipedia, Murder “…. is considered the most serious form of homicide, in which one person kills another with the intention to cause either death or serious injury unlawfully.” So there has to be intention to cause either death or serious injury to the victim. Are the BBC and other commentators really suggesting that the person or persons intended to kill a journalist? Apart from seriously inaccurate reporting, one might see those kind of claims as prejudicial to a fair trial for anyone arrested for the homicide.

THE CONDEMNATION BANDWAGON

          And then, of course, jumping on to the condemnation bandwagon, we have the usual collection of hypocrites and opportunists. What would we expect from Unionist politicians? They have been running that colony with regular pogroms and armed repression for nearly a century – Irish Republicans are their enemies to the marrow. Arlene Foster couldn’t resist using the opportunity to praise their colonial police and to take a swipe at SF: Those who brought guns onto our streets in the 70s, 80s & 90s were wrong. It is equally wrong in 2019.” Actually, at first it was usually the RUC with the guns on the street, wasn’t it? And then the British Army. But then after the Ballymurphy Massacre, Bloody Sunday …. well, you shoot at people long enough, they shoot back.

British Ministers and politicians had their condemnation to get in as well – well, the colony is theirs, isn’t it? The Republicans are their enemies too (and Theresa May must’ve been glad to be talking about something other than Brexit, for a change).

But then we had the Irish politicians also, including our own Taoiseach (Prime Minister), who presides over a State that is made secure for native and foreign capitalists by, among other things, persecution of Irish Republicans and sending them to jail through non-jury Special Courts. Mr. Varadkar is so supportive of the people of Derry, so sensitive to their needs, that whilst he condemns the Republicans, he praises the people of Derry for being “as strong as your walls.” Is he expressing Loyalist views or is he so ignorant of the people of Derry and their history?

Is Varadkar unaware that the Derry Walls belonged to the foreign occupation force? That the song that celebrates them is a triumphalist anti-Catholic sectarian and colonist song? That during the recent war in the Six Counties those walls were frequently a point of surveillance for the occupying military and that during the Bloody Sunday massacre, some British soldiers were up there with special rifles?

Oh yes and let’s not forget Nancy Pelosi, she too found a place on the bandwagon (well, to be fair, the others made room for her). This is long-standing career US Congresswoman who, although an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War and supporter of civil rights, blocked her party colleagues from going for impeachment of war criminal President Bush because “you never know what might come out”. She also voted for the Patriot Act, a huge attack on civil liberties in the USA and labeled Edward Snowdon “a criminal” for his whistle-blowing. And yes, after a briefing relating to a CIA agent destroying hundreds of hours of videotaping of torture in their US base in Guantanamo, she issued a statement saying that she eventually did protest the techniques (e.g “waterboarding”, euphemism for simulated drowning of prisoners under interrogation – DB) and that she concurred with objections raised by a Democratic colleague in a letter to the C.I.A. in early 2003. Yes you did, Nancy – but you waited four years to do so.

And what are we to say of Sinn Féin, they of association with the late Provisional IRA, putting their name to a joint statement of colony politicians? One would think that considering their past, they would hesitate to join the mob or to climb upon this particular bandwagon. One might think they would remember the innocent people the PIRA killed on occasion by accident, such as for example the Birmingham pub bombings where 21 people were killed and 182 injured or even, on some occasions, with intention.

Perhaps Michelle O’Neill did remember, perhaps she did hesitate, perhaps she wished to issue SF’s own statement. But climb aboard they did – and isn’t it all about climbing with them now?

The political parties that support the occupation said in joint statement: “Lyra’s murder (see that “murder” word again – DB) was also an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on the peace and democratic processes.

“It was a pointless and futile act to destroy the progress made over the last 20 years, which has the overwhelming support of people everywhere.” (Oh, that was its purpose, was it? And this progress has been what, exactly? And towards what?– DB).

O’Neill was herself quoted as saying that the “murder” (that word again !) was “an attack on our peace process and an attack on the Good Friday Agreement.”

And We will remain resolute in our opposition to the pointless actions of these people who care nothing for the people of Derry.

I can’t say whether those people putting up a resistance to the colonial police care for the people of Derry or not but presumably they care for the people of their own neighbourhoods who are being harassed by the PSNI. And I remember in another city, Belfast, how the Loyalists had been threatening the Ardoyne area for many months and that in 2015, the PSNI blocked the Anti-Internment League from marching down to the city centre. Although the march eventually dispersed without incident, the heavy police presence in the area provoked some residents to remonstrate with them and, when the police began to arrest a woman, the area erupted in a riot. Who did SF blame? The local youth and the anti-internment marchers! And when a meeting was convened soon afterwards in a local venue for the march organisers and SF to explain their views, it was the latter that failed to attend.

* * *

Well, it must have been getting tight up there on the bandwagon but there’s always room hanging off the sides and if that doesn’t work …. why, one can run behind. And if not, not to worry, there’ll be another one along soon.

End.

LINKS

BBC initial news on line: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-47985469

Irish Examiner (including intention of PSNI to disrupt Republicans): https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/a-senseless-loss-of-life-journalist-lyra-mckee-29-shot-dead-during-riots-in-derry-918754.html

The Saoradh statement: http://saoradh.ie/the-death-of-lyra-mckee-in-derry-saoradh-statement/?fbclid=IwAR2nH20ILtiGjgCyih2eo0HEpkK27_F89MRptEb_OIMfA0SbRz4YB8Fneiw

Continuing Internment Brought to Notice in Busy Dublin Shopping Street

(From FB page End Internment by kind permission)

The campaign against continuing internment in Ireland had a visible presence in Dublin’s premier and busy shopping area, Henry Street on Saturday 6th April.

Photo: Dublin Anti-Internment Committee

          Republicans and socialists from a number of organisations — and none — supported the picket, called by Dublin Anti-Internment Committee as part of its ongoing campaign to raise awareness that internment without trial of political activists continues in Ireland, though on a much-smaller scale.

Hundreds of leaflets were distributed to shoppers and sightseers and only one complaint was received – that there wasn’t a petition to sign!

DAIC member handing out leaflets to passing members of the public (Photo: Dublin Anti-Internment Committee

If any reminder were needed that internment is continuing in Ireland, it was provided recently with the case of former Republican prisoner Alan Lundy, who was recently jailed without charge and released some weeks later, being yet again detained and put straight into jail, again without trial or even charge.

IF YOU WANT TO HELP

          If you live in Dublin and would like to help, why not join the DAIC at the next picket? These are roughly on a monthly basis. The DAIC is completely independent of any political party or organisation and organises itself in a democratic manner – however, it is a participative democracy, in that the people who attend public awareness-raising events are those who make the decisions at notified committee meetings.

If you don’t live in Dublin, you could share our posts from time to time ….

Photo: Dublin Anti-Internment Committee

HISTORICAL NOTES

          The Proclamation of Independence was signed in what was then an Irish foods and coffee shop, No.21 Henry Street, about a week before the Rising.

During the actual Rising, the street saw much firing from British troops closing in on the GPO from both directions, east and west. An advance of British soldiers from the west was halted by a Volunteers’ ambush somewhere near where this picket was.

end.

Photo: Dublin Anti-Internment Committee
The plaque commemorating the signing of the 1916 Proclamation of Independence at No.21 Henry Street.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

DUBLIN PICKET AGAINST INTERNMENT COMMEMORATES HUNGER STRIKERS

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.

Section of the protest outside the GPO building (photo: Dublin Anti-Internment Committee)

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”.

The banner depicting Irish and Palestinian political prisoner solidarity, from a cartoon by Latuff.
(photo: Dublin Anti-Internment Committee)

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.

The solidarity bouquet (photo: Dublin Anti-Internment Committee)

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.

Palestinian young woman presenting the flowers to picketers.
(photo: Dublin Anti-Internment Committee)

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.

A chríoch.

Another view of a section of the picketers.
(photo: Dublin Anti-Internment Committee)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short video clip here:https://www.facebook.com/581232915354743/videos/319325982052745/

CATALONIA — WHO BEST TO EXPLAIN? QUI ES MEJOR PER EXPLICAR?

Diarmuid Breatnach

 

Outside of Catalonia or the Paisos Catalans (“Catalan Countries”, which includes the Balearic Islands and Valencia), who best to explain the realities and the controversies concerning the current independence bid of Catalonia? (Version in Castillian follows this one)

There are of course many unionist Spanish commentators but for the most part they rely on denunciation rather than explanation. When they do supply some explanation it either relies on a legalistic explanation of the Spanish State Constitution of 1978 or of a misreading of Catalan society (or both together).

Inside the Spanish State there are other groups which may well provide an adequate explanation, such as for example the Basques, the Galicians and small groups in other parts.

Outside the Spanish State, there are those struggling for the national liberation of other small nations in Europe who may well have studied the Spain-Catalonia question or have quickly informed themselves and, along with them, anti-fascists and revolutionary communists or socialists.

Catalan independence solidarity groups can of course collect accurate information and disseminate it but they are comparatively small and with little influence in the societies around them.

Undoubtedly, the largest and generally best-informed group of people are the Catalan diaspora – Catalans living in other states.

Of course, these Catalans may have a wide range of views among themselves on whether Catalonia would best be independent of the Spanish State, in a federal arrangement or totally independent. They may disagree on which political party is best – or on whether any should be supported. Socialism or not might be issues for discussion, as might whether to get independence first and resolve those other questions later. Even on the issue of whether armed resistance is justified or viable, there might be considerable variation in opinion.

But anyone from Catalonia can give the lie to the Spanish unionist propaganda that the Spanish language and those who use it are under attack in Catalonia, and also to the lie that the Catalan independence movement is of a racist-nationalist kind. Anyone from Catalonia who is being honest will say that the violence of the Spanish police on the day of the Referendum, 1st October 2017, was inexcusable and a crime against civil rights (indeed some Catalans who wanted to vote ‘No’ to independence would now vote ‘Yes’ as a result of that attack). Catalans for ‘Si’ or for ‘No’ can explain many things that are not available to most people outside Catalonia.

Man and child, faces painted in the colours and symbols of the estelada, a pro-Catalan independence flag. (Image source: Internet)

This reservoir of information about the struggle around Catalan independence is the largest outside Catalonia – but is it being used? These Catalans living abroad have partners, children, workmates, fellow-students, neighbours and friends they have met in the country in which they are living. In many states of Europe these Catalans are free from the fear of deportation and therefore free to speak out to those around them about what is happening in Catalonia and in the Spanish state.

 

AN EXAMPLE

It might be instructive to examine a historical example with some parallels.

In 1968 a struggle broke out in the British colony in Ireland, the Six Counties, as a struggle for civil rights for the Catholic community (mostly descendants of the pre-colonial inhabitants). The British colonial statelet responded with great violence from its armed force, backed up by the British Army and was responded to with armed guerrilla resistance.

It may surprise many to realise that initially, the civil rights struggle often received truthful and even sympathetic coverage in the British media. Once the British army went in, this began to change noticeably and with the first British Army casualties there was no longer any real pretence of unbiassed reporting.

British media reporting then wished not only to justify the actions of the British State to the world but also to its own population. But in the latter case, it faced a serious obstacle – the Irish community in Britain.

As well as being the longest-establish migrant community in Britain, it was by far the largest. Many of these people knew their history and also at least something about conditions in the Six Counties. It was less than 50 years since the creation of the Irish State after a guerrilla war of national liberation following 800 years with many armed uprisings and cruel English repression. And these Irish – including first-generation born in Britain and even second-generation – were capable of undermining the effect of the colonial discourse on partners, friends, work-mates, neighbours and trade-union members.

Old anti-Irish racism embedded in British culture could disturb the Irish diaspora’s counter-discourse but not, it seemed, sufficiently. The Irish not only undermined the State discourse by speaking what they knew to those around them, they also organised solidarity campaigns, held pickets and demonstrations – sometimes huge ones.

The IRA’s bombing campaign in Britain could have weakened the reception for the Irish voice but, though it certainly did it no good, it did not weaken it sufficiently. The British State decided to gag that voice with state terror and prepared legislation, waiting for the appropriate moment to introduce it, which they received with the 1974 massacre resulting from an IRA bomb in a Birmingham pub and problems in communicating a warning.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act was introduced under a Labour Government and passed in a few hours, allegedly as a only a temporary measure but was renewed every year under different party governments until 1989. The Act permitted banning of Irish Republican organisations; 5-day detention without charge (which could also be extended); search without warrant; detention for questioning at airports and ports under which many thousands were interrogated, often missing their flight or boat as a result; deportation; exclusion to the Six Counties (amounting to internal exile). And of course, not officially permitted but tolerated, frame-ups, threats, beatings and torture.

Nearly 20 innocent members of the community and their friends were arrested and framed on bombing-related charges in five different cases and all convicted of murder and terrorism, to spend long years trying to establish their innocence, most of their marriages destroyed, their mental health severely injured, one to die in jail. That, and the ongoing repression of arrests-and-release, raids etc, was enough to silence, for the most part, the Irish community.

Until the Hunger Strikers of 1981 brought them out in mass again.

 

THE REASON

Why am I telling you this history? To frighten you? To make you feel sorry for the Irish in Britain in those years? No, I am retelling this history to illustrate the potential power of the diaspora to tell the truth about what is happening in its country of origin. That power was so great against the British propaganda machine that the State felt obliged to weaken it, to terrorise the Irish community, to take hostages from it.

Women with faces painted in Catalan national colours, one with the estelada design and the other with the ensenyera
(Photo credit: JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

Today, the Catalan diaspora outside the Spanish state has a similar power but it is not “in the belly of the beast” as the Irish in Britain were nor in most cases is it subject to threat of imprisonment or other state terror.

To have that power implies a responsibility to use it, to explain things to those around them in whichever country they find themselves.

 

End

(VERSION IN CASTILLIAN FOLLOWS)

 

Fuera de Cataluña o de los Paisos Catalans (lo cual incluye a las Islas Baleares y Valencia), ¿quiénes son los mejores para explicar las realidades y las controversias sobre la actual candidatura de independencia de Cataluña?

Por supuesto, hay muchos comentaristas españoles unionistas, pero en su mayor parte se basan en la denuncia más que en la explicación. Cuando ofrecen alguna explicación, se basa en una explicación legalista de la Constitución del Estado español de 1978 o en una mala interpretación de la sociedad catalana (o ambas juntas).

Dentro del Estado español hay otros grupos que pueden proporcionar una explicación adecuada, como por ejemplo los vascos, los gallegos y grupos pequeños en otras partes.

Fuera del Estado español, hay quienes luchan por la liberación nacional de otras naciones pequeñas en Europa que bien pudieron haber estudiado la cuestión España-Cataluña o se han informado rápidamente y, junto con ellos, antifascistas y comunistas o socialistas revolucionarios.

Los grupos de solidaridad con la independencia catalana, por supuesto, pueden recopilar información precisa y difundirla, pero son comparativamente pequeños y con poca influencia en las sociedades que los rodean.

Sin lugar a dudas, el grupo de personas más grande y generalmente mejor informado es la diáspora catalana: los catalanes que viven en otros estados.

Some european cities where Catalans may be found
(map source: Internet)

Por supuesto, est@s catalan@s pueden tener una amplia gama de puntos de vista sobre si Cataluña sería mejor independiente del Estado español, en un acuerdo federal o totalmente independiente. Pueden estar en desacuerdo sobre cuál es el mejor partido político, o si se debe apoyar a alguno. El socialismo o no puede ser un tema de discusión, ya sea si obtener la independencia primero y resolver esas otras preguntas más adelante. Incluso en la cuestión de si la resistencia armada es justificada o viable, puede haber una variación considerable en la opinión.

Pero cualquiera de Cataluña puede desmentir a la propaganda sindicalista española de que el idioma español y los que la usan están bajo ataque en Cataluña, y también a la mentira de que el movimiento independentista catalán es de tipo racista-nacionalista. Cualquier persona de Cataluña que sea honesta dirá que la violencia de la policía española el día del Referéndum, el 1 de octubre de 2017, fue inexcusable y un crimen contra los derechos civiles (de hecho, algunos catalanes que querían votar “No” a la independencia ahora votarían “Sí” como resultado de ese ataque). Los catalanes para ‘Si’ o para ‘No’ pueden explicar muchas cosas que no están disponibles para la mayoría de las personas fuera de Cataluña.

Esta reserva de información sobre la lucha en torno a la independencia catalana es la más grande fuera de Cataluña, pero ¿se está utilizando? Est@s catalan@s que viven en el extranjero tienen compañer@s, hij@s, compañer@s de trabajo, compañer@s de estudios, vecin@s y amig@s que han conocido en el país en el que viven. En muchos estados de Europa, est@s catalan@s están libres del temor a la deportación y, por lo tanto, pueden hablar libremente con quienes les rodean sobre lo que está sucediendo en Cataluña y en el Estado español.

UN EJEMPLO

Podría ser instructivo examinar un ejemplo histórico con algunos paralelos.

En 1968 estalló una lucha en la colonia británica en Irlanda, los Seis Condados, como una lucha por los derechos civiles de la comunidad católica (en su mayoría descendientes de los habitantes ante coloniales). El estadito colonial británico respondió con gran violencia de su fuerza armada, respaldado por el ejército británico y fue respondido con la resistencia guerrillera armada.

Puede sorprender a muchos darse cuenta de que inicialmente, la lucha por los derechos civiles a menudo recibió una cobertura sincera e incluso simpática en los medios británicos. Una vez que entró el ejército británico, esto comenzó a cambiar notablemente y con las primeras bajas del ejército británico ya no hubo ninguna pretensión real de informar sin sesgos.

Los medios de comunicación británicos entonces deseaban no solo justificar las acciones del Estado británico ante el mundo, sino también ante su propia población. Pero en este último caso, se enfrentó a un serio obstáculo: la comunidad irlandesa en Gran Bretaña.

Además de ser la comunidad de migrantes más antigua en Gran Bretaña, fue, con mucho, la más grande. Muchas de estas personas conocían su historia y también al menos algo sobre las condiciones en los Seis Condados. Pasaron menos de 50 años desde la creación del Estado irlandés después de una guerra guerrillera de liberación nacional, después de 800 años con muchos levantamientos armados y la cruel represión inglesa. Y estos irlandeses, incluyendo la primera generación nacida en Gran Bretaña e incluso la segunda generación, fueron capaces de socavar el efecto del discurso colonial en los socios, amigos, compañer@s de trabajo, vecin@s y miembros de sindicatos.

El viejo racismo antiirlandés incrustado en la cultura británica podría perturbar el discurso en contra de la diáspora irlandesa, pero no, al parecer, lo suficiente. L@s irlandes@s no solo socavaron el discurso del Estado al decir lo que sabían a quienes los rodeaban, sino que también organizaron campañas de solidaridad, celebraron piquetes y manifestaciones, a veces enormes.

La campaña de bombardeos del IRA en Gran Bretaña podría haber debilitado la recepción de la voz irlandesa pero, aunque ciertamente no le sirvió, no la debilitó lo suficiente. El Estado británico decidió amordazar esa voz con terror estatal y preparó una legislación, esperando el momento adecuado para introducirla, que recibió con la masacre de 1974 que resultó de una bomba del IRA en un pub de Birmingham y problemas para comunicar una advertencia.

La Ley de Prevención del Terrorismo se introdujo bajo un gobierno social demócrata y se aprobó en unas pocas horas, supuestamente como una medida temporal, pero se renovó cada año bajo gobiernos de diferentes partidos hasta 1989. La Ley permitió la prohibición de organizaciones republicanas irlandesas; 5 días de detención sin cargos (que también podría ampliarse); búsqueda sin orden judicial; detención por interrogatorio en aeropuertos y puertos en los que se interrogó a miles de personas, por lo que a menudo perdieron su vuelo o bote; deportación; exclusión a los Seis Condados (equivalente al exilio interno). Y, por supuesto, no está permitido oficialmente, pero se tolera, enmarañamientos, amenazas, golpizas y torturas.

Cerca de 20 miembros inocentes de la comunidad y sus amigas fueron arrestados y acusados ​​de atentados con bombas en cinco casos diferentes y tod@s condenad@s por asesinato y terrorismo, por largos años tratando de establecer su inocencia, la mayoría de sus matrimonios destruidos, su salud mental gravemente herido, uno para morir en la cárcel. Eso, y la continua represión de detenciones y liberaciones, redadas, etc., fue suficiente para silenciar, en su mayor parte, a la comunidad irlandesa.

Hasta que los huelguistas del hambre del 1981 los sacaron a la calle de nuevo en masas.

LA RAZÓN

          ¿Por qué les estoy contando esta historia? ¿Para asustar les? ¿Para hacer les sentir mal por los irlandeses en Gran Bretaña en esos años? No, estoy contando esta historia para ilustrar el poder potencial de la diáspora para contar la verdad sobre lo que está sucediendo en su país de origen. Ese poder era tan grande contra la maquinaria de propaganda británica que el Estado se sintió obligado a debilitarlo, a aterrorizar a la comunidad irlandesa, a tomar rehenes de él.

Hoy en día, la diáspora catalana fuera del Estado español tiene un poder similar, pero no está “en el vientre de la bestia” como estaban l@s irlandes@s en Gran Bretaña ni en la mayoría de los casos está sujeta a amenazas de encarcelamiento u otro terror estatal.

Tener ese poder implica la responsabilidad de usarlo, de explicar las cosas a quienes los rodean en cualquier país en el que se encuentren.