Democracy starts at home…
We’re so used to hearing about human rights abuses across the globe, that when you hear one almost on your doorstep, and in a place you know well, it brings things sharply into focus.
This weekend it was a referendum in Catalonia Spain. The Catalan government wants to be independent to Spain and had organised their own referendum for its people. The Spanish government didn’t like the idea so declared the vote illegal. The Catalan’s however decided to disregard the court order and push ahead as a means of protest. The Spanish hierarchy send in riot police to try to stop the poll happening with disastrous and violent consequences. Peaceful demonstrators were brutally attacked, building were broken into and ballot boxes stolen.
I stand behind any people who want to peacefully demonstrate their cause. I stand with the people of Catalan who want to control their own destiny, like I stood behind those in Scotland who wanted to vote to decide theirs. Just because you may disagree with the outcome, you should not stop a vote with violence. In Catalonia the vote wouldn’t be legitimate, but would at least show how many wanted to break from Spain. By doing what they did I believe it is now only a short time before Spain will have to deal with the whole Catalan claims.
However, I can’t understand out politicians. They have been no widespread condemnation of the state sponsored violence by our Uk government, apart from the opposition parties (Well done Jeremy). If this was an African or Asian state that we had little or no ties with, or one we had interest in regime change, then they would be all over the newspapers condemning it. As it’s a near country with strong ties to the UK, then it doesn’t warrant a mention. Our foreign secretary seems more interested in spreading colonialist views in Myanmar than condemning state violence.
Everyone has the right to peaceful protest, to stand up for their views. A few years ago western governments were rightly praising the Arab Spring revolutions and condemning the violence by the states. When it happens to them, they use the same violence and methods used by those they vilified. You can’t have double standards, even if you don’t agree with the sentiments of others.
In the Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s the phrase No Pasaran (They will not pass) was adopted. It was used in the Cable Street riots in the UK as a sign against fascism. On Sunday it was used by Catalan protestors wanting democracy once again. We must learn the lessons from history and allow democracy its head once again.