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Self-Determination: A Universal Right 

Catalonia

A Catalan declaration of independence and self-determination appears likely, perhaps on Friday.

It’s a fundamental principle under international law, regarded as jus cogens, a higher or compelling law.

Nations with constitutional or statute laws in violation of this principle are illegal – including Article 155 of Spain’s constitution, authorizing Madrid to suspend Catalonia’s autonomous status, blocking its declaration of independence, its self-determination.

People everywhere have the right to choose their sovereignty and political status with no outside interference.

In January 1918, during WW I, Woodrow Wilson said “(n)ational aspirations must be respected. People may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. ‘Self determination’ is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle of action.”

The 1941 Atlantic Charter adopted by America, Britain and their allies during WW II affirmed the right of self-determination, its principles including no territorial aggrandizement, no territorial changes made against the wishes of the people, self-determination, restoration of self-government to those deprived of it, among others.

The UN Charter affirms “the principle of equal rights and self-determination of people…”

Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states:

“All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “(e)veryone has the right to a nationality (self-determination). No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his (or her) nationality nor denied the right to change his (or her) nationality.”

In December 1960, UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 granted independence to colonial countries and their people, affirming their right of self-determination.

Catalans are entitled to the same right. So are Palestinians, Kurds, and other people. Denying them violates fundamental international law.

Not according to the New York Times. Commenting on “chaos in Catalonia,” the self-styled newspaper of record falsely claimed “(n)o rules govern the exact balance between people’s right to determine their political future and the maintenance of existing states and borders, but something of a consensus has developed against breaking up a state that is law abiding and respectful of human rights.”

So-called “consensus” violates international law, no ambiguity about it.

Balkanizing Yugoslavia in the 1990s was supported by Western states, The Times and other major media, the self-determination rights of its people not considered.

Nor do Western media report about the diabolical US/Israel plot to redraw the Middle East map, the imperial scheme ignored.

The Times: “…Catalonia today cannot claim to be colonized or oppressed.”

Fact: Madrid gets the benefits of its wealth, not its people – brutally oppressed last Sunday, further state-sponsored violence threatened if its independence is declared.

The Times: Voting last Sunday was “chaotic” – solely because national police disrupted it violently.

The Times: “(T)he tallies cannot be independently verified and are regarded as invalid by Spain…”

Fact: The referendum was democratically conducted, the right of its people freely exercised.

The Times: “…Catalan secessionists…barrel(ed) ahead with an ill-considered declaration of independence whose true support was not possible to gauge from the chaotic voting…”

Some polls days ahead of Sunday’s referendum showed over 80% support – final results at 90%.

Catalans are legally and morally entitled to be free from fascist Spain. Achieving it won’t be easy. Nor is anything worth undertaking.

Madrid Vows to Block Catalan Independence

State-sponsored street violence tried preventing Sunday’s referendum from taking place. It may have been prelude for harsher measures ahead.

Fascist PM Mariano Rajoy announced his intention, saying “(i)f anyone plans to declare the independence of part of the territory of Spain, as he can’t since he does not have the power to do so, we would have to do everything within the law to impede this.”

The “law” apparently is whatever he says it is, including unleashing thuggish police in virtual combat gear against nonviolent Catalans exercising their right to vote, injuring hundreds, some seriously.

Asked if Article 155 of Spain’s constitution will be invoked to suspend Catalonia’s autonomous status, Rajoy’s justice minister Rafael Catala said “(t)hat is a tool that is there.”

“We have always said that we will use all the force of the law, all the mechanisms that the constitution and the laws grant the government.”

“We are not here to divide Spaniards. We are here to serve the general interest. Therefore if we have to use certain measures that worry us and may hurt, we will do it. It is important to guarantee that Spain has rule of law, that laws are fulfilled.”

Rajoy intends addressing parliament on the crisis. Opposition PSOE leader Pedro Sanchez demands he open talks with Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and other political leaders to negotiate a solution to the crisis.

He also demanded an explanation for national police violence against Catalan voters.

Puigdemont vowed to keep his pledge to declare independence following Sunday’s landslide “Yes” vote triumph, saying under Catalan law, winning by more than 50% triggers a declaration of independence within 48 hours.

His party holds a slim parliamentary majority, its members likely to approve separation from Spain, setting the stage for further confrontation if declared.

Brussels largely ignored Sunday’s violence. EU member states support Rajoy, concerned that Catalan independence could trigger similar separatist movements elsewhere in Europe.

Spanish Basque separatists could seek to follow Catalonia, Madrid likely to use tough tactics to keep the nation intact. Martial law could be declared, civil liberties suspended in Catalonia, military forces sent to occupy the region.

Constitutional Law Professor Fernando Simon said Spain is in unknown territory, things “really serious.” Harsh measures by Madrid could ignite a firestorm. Sunday’s blood in the streets could be minor compared to what’s possible ahead.

Both sides are open to compromise under conditions unacceptable to each other. Puigdemont insists Catalonia’s right to self-determination must be respected before talks can begin.

He asked Brussels to get involved to help resolve things, so far not forthcoming, unlikely ahead, especially because Rajoy wants things handled internally.

On Monday, European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said the matter must “be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain.”

National police and civil guards still occupy Catalonia. Puigdemont demands their withdrawal, a sentiment supported by angry Catalans.

On October 6, 1934, then Catalan President Lluis Companys declared independence from Spain. Puigdemont could choose the same date to do it again.

In October 1940, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco executed Companys. Is Puigdemont vulnerable to the same fate if he declares Catalonia independent from fascist Spain?

Whatever way things turn out, Puigdemont intends establishing a commission comprised of legal experts and other professionals to examine Madrid’s “violation of fundamental rights” during Sunday’s vote, the worst Spain has seen in decades.

“The day of gratuitous violence seen (Sunday) cannot be repeated nor go unpunished,” he stressed. Scores of formal complaints were filed against Spanish police.

On Monday, thousands of Catalans protested against Sunday’s state-sponsored violence peacefully. Unions called a general strike for Tuesday.

The pro-independence Catalan National Assembly along with dozens of other groups called on their supporters to turn out en masse to protest against “grave violation of rights and freedoms.”

A Catalan declaration of independence appears likely, perhaps on Friday. Disruptive Madrid-ordered action to block it could follow.

About the author: Stephen J. Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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