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Inaki Irazabalbeitia

Former MEP, Aralar

Pacifism now and ever

Mar 15, 2015

Lokarri the Basque peace movement put an end to its trajectory last Saturday. I published alongside with my party mates Patxi Zabaleta and Rebeka Ubera this article. I'am very proud of my collaboration with Lurraldea, Elkarri and Lokarri; three links of the same chain

Next Mars 7th, Elkarri-Lokarri will end their existence and their social action. Those who have been members of these organizations as well as many Basque citizens want to express their gratitude to both for their work in favour of peace. Congratulations!

Peace, however, as if it were the breath of the essence of society, is a desire and urgency that must be constantly renewed if society should endure alive and healthy. At the root of freedom is peace, the foundation of all solidarity and justice is peace, the raw material of joy and happiness is peace, and remedy of breaks and wounds of coexistence is peace. A society should never give up in its efforts for peace; like in the case of living beings every breath is a claim for the next, every thought and effort for peace is also the claim for the next.

Pacifism is still an urgent need in the Basque Country and it should not only maintain but also develop in the future. Perhaps for many people the situation we currently live —and breath— in peace is now better than the one ten years ago, but for other the current situation has huge shortcomings; painful and cruel deficiencies in issues related to freedom or equality and those tied with solidarity and coexistence. The Basque Country needs and will need pacifist organizations; as in other nations; now and forever. The hallmark of pacifism is very clear, to prioritize always human rights without exception.

Pacific peacemaker and pacifist; three concepts and three meanings that it is necessary to distinguish. The peaceful chooses behaviours based on peace; the peacemaker strives to achieve peace, and if necessary "struggles" to achieve it; the pacifist prioritizes the ethical, social and ideological values of peace above all and gives up the fight, even for peace. It is true that sometimes the one who achieves peace is not a pacifist or at least not exclusively pacifist; paradoxically the pacifists are often blamed of lack of effective capacity to achieve peace. Anyway, you can’t ignore that the boundaries between peaceful, peacemaker and pacifist are not always accurate, as we often manifest themselves in undecipherable confusion ... Like that old shocking poem of Xenpelar: "I am not a supporter of war, but I am for peace; inquire to see who wants war and give him a shot, put a bullet in his head and he will then become bored!

Look from close, Elkarri and Lokarri have been peacemakers, not proper pacifist. The peace movements that appeared among us emerged driven by the consequences of the action of ETA and some of them looked exclusively to one the sides. Peaceful entities without a doubt; willing to be peacemakers too; but they lacked the recognition of the explicit priority of all human rights without exception to be the same ethical, social and ideological level of pacifism.

The road to peace we are doing in the Basque Country has still lot of miles to be done, but the goal is very obvious and it involves the coexistence based on equality that human rights demand; based on freedom and equality; without winners or losers. Recent statements by the President of Colombia Mr. Santos, the manifesto agreed in the Forum of Bayonne by the political forces of Northern Basque Country few months ago and the Gernika Agreement mark clearly the roadmap in peace building. That is, the recognition of all the victims of all violence and short- and long-term claims of political prisoners: truth, recognition and repair, humanization of prison policy and amnesty for the sake of a deep and fair democracy.

The so-called Parot doctrine, the imprisonment for life, the unfair dispersion of prisoners, the denial to release of sick prisoners and incommunicado detention, which allows torture, had vigorously been denounced and rejected by society. But amnesty is put aside contrary to the position of President Santos of Colombia. Coexistence requires equal freedom of all Basque political prisoners as accurate recognition of all victims.

Pacifism will have a place nn Basque society and a growing importance. Not only for what still lacks in our peace process, but because the democratic life of the future must be based on human rights. Only a coexistence without winners or losers is supported on equality.

The route which Elkarri-Lokarri did —we did—, leaves a wake in the sea, even if it seems that the deep waters of life will erase it. The old sailors knew the invisible paths of the sea and the history of Elkarri-Lokarri we marked the path of peace fot our generation. Now it is time that the peacemakers pass the baton to pacifism.