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The European Union’s response to suppression: «Keep paying your dues and we’ll look the other way»

Prof. Dr. Axel Schönberger

Apr 9, 2018 — The European Union’s response to Spain’s violent suppression: «Just keep paying your dues and we’ll look the other way»

from Kevin McKenna

«In an Edinburgh court room this week and next, Scotland will be involving itself once more in a good fight in another country. The European arrest warrant by which Spain’s increasingly unhinged and reactionary government is trying to extradite Professor Clara Ponsatí to face charges of violent rebellion is meeting stiff Scottish resistance.

The 61-year-old professor of economics at St Andrews University had helped to organise a peaceful independence referendum in her native Catalonia and thereafter to serve in its short-lived government. The charge of violent rebellion follows those distressing scenes in which vicious packs of unarmed Catalan citizens attacked police shields and batons with their heads and left the boys in the riot gear bereft and traumatised.

The European Union’s response to Spain’s violent suppression of a peaceful act of democracy was predictable: “Just keep paying your dues and we’ll look the other way.” Among its member states there has been little desire to ask Spain to justify its violence and the draconian sentences handed to the leaders of Catalan independence.

No one has asked: “So why did you insist on violent suppression when you could simply have ignored the referendum and opted not to recognise it?”

Ponsatí’s fate will rest on the efforts of her Scottish lawyer, Aamer Anwar, and the rigorous application of Scots law and a legal system that can trace its lineage to the 12th century. In that Edinburgh courtroom, it won’t be Ponsatí’s conduct that will be scrutinised but the conduct of a country still, it seems, haunted by General Franco, another Spanish leader who attacked his own people.

During the Spanish civil war, 549 Scottish volunteers fought Franco and his fascists after he led a rebellion against the outcome of a democratic election. The volunteers were backed by funds raised in the grassroots Aid for Spain campaign in Scotland, which was among the republic’s biggest financial supporters at that time.

More than 80 years later, another Scottish grassroots fund is helping its adopted Catalan citizen escape the clutches of the successors to Franco. And Vernon Johns’s advice to Martin Luther King is being revived once more.»

Kevin McKenna in «The Guardian», 8. April 2018
(Observer columnist)

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