11 February 2010 Edition
Catalan weekend in Belfast
Around 100 people participated in a series of events discussing the Catalan struggle for independence and celebrating Catalan culture last weekend in Belfast. This included about 40 young people who travelled to Ireland from the Catalan Countries to take part in a political lecture, a dinner and concert, and a tour of republican Belfast.
At a public meeting held in the city’s Cultúrlann on Friday 5 February, Catalan pro-independence activists Guillem Colom and Lluc Salellas outlined the history of the Catalan nation and its long struggle for independence from the Spanish and French states.
Salellas discussed the historical conquest and partition of the Països Catalans (Catalan Countries) and the growth during the 19th century of the nationalist movement. This movement was spearheaded by the successful drive to re-establish Catalan as the national language, in combination with a powerful trade union movement that favoured independence.
Colom then discussed the political situation in the Catalan Countries today, where he said the movement for independence from Spain and France was growing in popularity. He said that the global economic crisis and destructive free-market policies pushed by the Spanish government were causing more people, especially youth, to look for alternatives.
“The idea of asserting the Catalan people’s right to decide our own way forward is developing more support in this context,” he said, pointing to the recent series of referenda on independence held in 167 Catalan towns and villages.
“Although the poll, held on 13 December, was non-binding, the massive ‘Yes’ vote by hundreds of thousands of people - 94% of those who voted - reflects the growing support at all levels of Catalan society for independence,” he said. There will be a further series of such referenda held in late February.
Speaking to ‘An Phoblacht’, event organiser Eudald Vilamajó said that there was a growing Catalan community in Belfast and the weekend was organised to build solidarity between the Irish and Catalan people, and to exchange ideas and experiences in the shared struggle for national self-determination.
BASQUE SOLIDARITY DINNER IN Cultúrlann
For the first time ever in Ireland there will be a Basque Dinner for Basque Political Prisoners in the Cultúrlann, 216 Falls Road, on Saturday 13 February at 8pm.
In 2010 there are between 600 and 700 hundred Basque political prisoners in more than 120 prisons, mainly in the Spanish and French States. Those in both states are mainly from the Southern Basque Country, that is, that part of Euskal Herría currently contained in the Spanish State.
Spain has a deliberate policy of dispersal, sending the prisoner as far from his/her home as possible, irrespective of where he/she was arrested. Allegations of torture in Spain are frequent and the frequency of signed statements in which the prisoner incriminates himself/herself lends credence to the allegations. No such signed statements are coming from detention centres in the French State.
All profits from the dinner will go to the Basque political prisoners and it will be an act of solidarity from Ireland at a time when the persecution by Spain of political opinion in the Basque Country is intense.
- Tickets are available at £15 from the Art Shop, 155 Falls Road or from Michael in Café Feirste at the Cultúrlann.