Foreign Policy Blogs

The Unforgettable Moments of Martyrs

Flags of Catalunya

The focus on an event, movement or death of a leader has always been the rallying cry for many movements that sought to change the status quo. Even in a relatively peaceful country like Canada, the words of a one Lord Durham in a report in the 1800s that suggested the elimination of French Canadian culture in North America has become a touchstone for historic divisions in the country. Even in what some refer to as post-modern societies, the ties to culture, language and history are as strong as ever in those regions that have had to fight for it to exist. To a greater extent, many ancient cultures are facing complete ext ermination because of their language, culture and origin, and are fighting in 2017 just to survive.

The 2017 referendums in Catalonia and the Kurdish region of Iraq may be historic in their push to birth new nations in regions where borders are disappearing. New states may arise from these entrenched cultures in regions where borders may be re-characterized as being a weaker version those traditionally guarded by nation states.

The separation of Catalonia from Spain was not a likely outcome, but recent reaction where force and the denial of the right to vote in an unofficial election may become the rallying cry separatist campaigners needed in their push for independence. Catalonia’s legislative challenges to push for a vote for separation would have likely been dulled in political horse trading and the constitutional courts for decades. Video of Catalans being suppressed in the activity of voting in their own communities may become a historic touchstone for the future of the independent Catalonia movement. The overreach in preventing the vote by the government in Madrid has likely enflamed the already tense divisions between Catalunya and the capital. The feeling that independence and an expression of nationhood may be met by violence, even if it was based on activities that were seen as not completely legal, sets a horrible precedent for those who wish to separate, and even those who wish to remain as part of Spain but are proud of their Catalan heritage. A surprisingly bad policy move, one that may even break up the country if not addressed in an appropriate manner immediately.

The Kurds have recently conducted a referendum on independence where a majority voted to become an independent state. With Iraq and Iranian forces in Iraq pushing to contain any active separation, and Turkey threatening further coercive measures, the Kurds who were a key ally to almost everyone in the region in the fight against ISIS and extremism have now become underserving targets of all power brokers in the region. Despite earning their place through hard fought battle, helping regional minorities not to succumb to a complete genocide and their focus on democratic values, there is little to no recognition of the rights of the Kurdish people in forming a nation state.

There had been a great deal of coalition rhetoric in claiming support for Kurdish forces in fighting ISIS. Unfortunately, the constant minimal level of military support from Western allies has done nothing to earn the minimal amount of respect they deserve in being the tip of the spear against radicalism and genocide in Iraq and Syria. The main catalyst any society would claim as their fight for independence for the Kurdish people comes from fighting the most powerful fascist army since the end of the Second World War. The war the Kurdish people have helped win for most of the world might be forgotten in Western media, but it is doubtful Kurdish society will ever forget their victory. Denying them freedom from future incursions and the determination of their own safety and security is something no society would tolerate after years of hard fought conflict. For both regions and their people in 2017, there is now a point in history that will never be forgotten, and with that generations of independent thought and literature encouraging strong, free and independent nations.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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