Friday, September 22, 2017
Why I Support the Struggle of the People of Catalonia
It's hard to believe it's happening in Europe, and in an ostensibly democratic country like Spain.
But just as the autonomous region of Catalonia was planning to hold a referendum on whether or not to secede from Spain, the Spanish government has tried to block it by arresting some separatist leaders.
The Spanish police detained more than a dozen people in the region of Catalonia on Wednesday, drastically escalating tensions between the national government and Catalan separatists. The episode occurred less than two weeks before a highly contentious referendum on independence that the government in Madrid has vowed to block.
And stealing the ballots.
Only to reap the righteous wrath of the Catalan people.
Who it seems are still determined to vote in that referendum, and are sending out this defiant message.
After three centuries under Spanish rule, on Oct. 1, citizens of Catalonia will finally have the chance to exercise their right to self-determination.
In stark contrast to the governments of Canada or Britain, Madrid has refused to accept this democratic challenge, and has opted instead for the path of authoritarian repression.
Four decades after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco, we still find that authoritarian instincts rule at the heart of the Madrid government. Respect for minorities is a fundamental human right, and the right of self-determination is an irrevocable right of all nations.
Which doesn't surprise me in the least, for the Catalans are a proud people with their own distinct language and culture, and a long history of resistance.
In 1940, their exiled president Lluis Companys was handed over by the Gestapo to the fascist regime of Francisco Franco, who jailed him in a Nazi-style prison.
He was held there for five weeks, kept in solitary confinement, tortured and beaten, while senior figures of the Franco regime visited his cell, insulted him and threw coins or crusts of bread at him.
After a military trial which lasted less than one hour, lacking legal guarantees where he was accused of ‘military rebellion’, Companys was executed at Montjuïc Castle in Barcelona at 6:30 a.m. on October 15, 1940.
Refusing to wear a blindfold, he was taken before a firing squad of Civil Guards and, as they fired, he cried ‘Per Catalunya!’ (For Catalonia!).
Companys asked to die barefoot, so his feet could touch the soil of his beloved Catalunya.
And is forever remembered by his people...
I first met some Catalonians during the Scottish independence referendum campaign three years ago.
When they turned up in Scotland to support the YES campaign...
And with their friendliness and their enthusiasm charmed many Scots into supporting their SI campaign...
And ever since, the two groups have had a very special relationship...
Which I both admire and support.
So all I can say to the right-wing fascists in Madrid, is good luck trying to put down a people with a proud spirit like this one...
Down with the Franco fascists.
And long live Catalunya...