Thursday October 19, 2017

Tribute to Catalonia: Spanish civil war that led to World War II

The Spanish war was an important page in the history of Spain. Although Republicans were massacred but their sacrifice inspired a whole new generation.

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Spanish civil war, Wikimedia commons

Spain became a new world locked in a death struggle encapsulated with brutal killings during the Spanish civil war.  Also known as the Civil war, it took place from 1936 to 1939.

  • On July 17, 1936, there was a sudden illegal takeover of the elected leftist government in Spain which was led by Spanish military members along with right wing conservative groups.
  • Spain witnessed a barbarian civil war between fascist and conservative forces versus communist, socialist, anarchist, and parliamentary alliances. The war was between democracy and fascism, freedom and tyranny.
  • Germany and Italy openly supported the fascist forces whereas the USSR supported republicans. However, the League of Nations remained silent without taking any side.
  • The impact of this civil war was felt by the whole world. It gradually became an international conflict. In fact, this was one of the reasons of World War II.

USSR supporting the Republicans, Wikimedia commons
USSR supporting the Republicans, Wikimedia commons

  • People from all over the world took part in this civil war. They all travelled to Spain and enthusiastically responded to the call of the Republicans.
  • In 1937 T.C Worsley (author of Behind the Battle) wrote during his Barcelona experience mentioning about the meeting with an Indian Journalist “Krishna”. He elucidates that “When an American journalist asked Krishna how he billed all the newspapers for which he was reporting, he replied that he was not paid but was doing it to let Indians know what was happening in Spain.“
  • Even Jawaharlal Nehru expressed his grief regarding the innocent people painful anxieties in the battle which was being fought in Spain. Nehru accused the League of Nations of its non-intervention policy. All of Nehru’s values (such as democracy, socialism, dignity, self-determination) which were inculcated via European civilization were at stake.
  • Mulk Raj Anand (Indian representative at World Congress Writers against Fascism) went to Madrid and drafted his novel across Blackwaters. Deeply moved by his visit, he even insisted that the authors should use their craft to expose injustice and exploitation.
  • K. Krishna Menon, secretary of the India League mobilised British Indians to aid Republican Spain.
    • The league collaborated with Leftist organisations and British Communist party and opposed Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policies.
    • Indian league also arranged food for the people of Spain who was suffering due to the protests. This Spain-Indian committee also organised cultural events and raised funds for donation.
    • Even Indira Gandhi took part in raising funds for London-based Aid Spain committee.

Nazi's Germany troops, Wikimedia commons
Nazi’s Germany troops, Wikimedia commons

  • In June 1938, Nehru and Menon paid a visit to Barcelona and based on his experience he wrote in his autobiography Towards Freedom “In the midst of want and destruction and ever-impending disaster, I felt more at peace with myself than anywhere else in Europe. There was light there, the light of courage and determination and of doing something worthwhile.”
  • Nehru’s faith in the west was deeply shaken by the betrayal of Great Britain and France as they signed the pact of appeasement permitting the Nazi Germany’s annexation of the nation.
  • The Spanish Republican fell and dictatorship was introduced in Spain by General Francisco Franco. The Spanish war was an important page in the history of Spain. Although Republicans were massacred but their sacrifice inspired a whole new generation.

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-Prepared by Pritam

Pritam is a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata. Contact the author at @pritam_gogreen

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Catalonia Protesters Demand Release of Separatist Leaders

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Protesters with ''esteladas'' or Catalonia independence flags
Protesters with ''esteladas'' or Catalonia independence flags pack the University square during a one-day strike in Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona, October 18: Tens of thousands of people protested Tuesday night in Barcelona against the Spanish government’s detention of two Catalonia separatist leaders.

The demonstrators carried candles and banners demanding the release of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, who are being held on possible sedition charges.

Prosecutors accuse Cuixart of the Omnium Cultural movement and Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly of provoking violence against police during a pro-independence march last month.

Catalan leaders have called the two political prisoners, which the government denies.

Earlier Tuesday, Spain’s top court ruled Catalonia’s independence referendum was illegal, saying that regional law backing the vote violated Spain’s constitution.

The Catalan government had passed the “self-determination referendum law” on September 6. Spain’s high court said the law must be suspended temporarily as it assessed the Spanish government’s opposition to it, but Catalonia went ahead with the referendum on October 1.

According to court regulations, the suspension was to last five months while judges come up with a ruling, but the pro-independence coalition ruling Catalonia claimed that the universal right to self-determination outweighs Spain’s laws.

Catalan government spokesperson, Jordi Turull, told reporters Tuesday Catalonia would not “surrender” its secession bid and reiterated calls for talks with Madrid on what he called “a democratic mandate” for independence.

Spain has given Catalonia until Thursday to reverse any moves it has made to secede or face direct rule from Madrid.

Catalonia, Spain’s most prosperous region, is home to 7.5 million people. Its capital, Barcelona, is one of Europe’s major tourist attractions. Catalonia has its own language and distinct culture and is deeply divided over independence.

The Catalan government said that 90 percent of Catalans who participated in the October 1 referendum voted for independence from Spain. Many opponents of independence boycotted the vote, reducing turnout to around 43 percent of eligible voters.(VOA)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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United nations
India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.