Message from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to the IBMT commemoration on London’s Southbank on Saturday 7 July. It was read out by Marcus Barnett, International Officer of Young Labour.
I would like to send my best wishes and solidarity to everyone who has gathered today to honour the International Brigades, who went to defend the Spanish people against fascism in the 1930s.
My own parents first met at a rally for the embattled Spanish Republic. The Spanish people were betrayed by the Tory government of the time, who refused the request of the elected Spanish government to support their fight against fascism.
But ordinary people stood up across the world and answered the call. Over 2,500 British people went to defend democracy and resist fascism, and 526 gave their lives in that struggle. They were dockers, engineers, bricklayers, tailors, students, poets, playwrights, shipbuilders, and came from every part of our country.
The men and women who served in the International Brigades represent the best of our country. Nearly 80 years on from the Spanish Civil War, we should remember the words of the legendary Spanish Republican leader La Pasionaria, who told the International Brigades: ‘You are history, you are legend!’
We honour the sacrifice of those who fought in the International Brigades by our commitment to the struggles against injustice and hatred we face today. We can be both humbled and emboldened by the courage of those who stood alongside the Spanish people in their darkest hour and raised the flag of freedom and democracy.
Hundreds attended the annual gathering, which was also addressed by Jon Trickett, Labour MP for Hemsworth and the Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office.
There was music from Na-mara, a minute’s silence followed by the singing of ‘Valley of Jarama’, and wreaths were laid by representatives of, among others, the Spanish embassy, the respective Spanish, French and US International Brigade memorial groups AABI, ACER and ALBA, Young Labour and London Young Labour, the Communist Party’s East London and Manchester branches, the BC’37A Basque children’s association, the Marx Memorial Library and the Connolly Association.
Organised by the IBMT, the event also marked two important 80th anniversaries this year. Three grandchildren of International Brigaders, Emma Davey, Barney Green and Gideon Long, read extracts of writings about the Battle of the Ebro. And Anglo-Spanish actor Yolanda Vázquez recited the famous speech delivered by the communist Spanish Republican leader Dolores Ibárruri (La Pasionaria) at the farewell parade to the International Brigades in October 1938.
View photos of the event here:
Posted on 8 July 2018.