A motion in the House of Commons is calling on the British government to intervene with the Spanish government about the threat to the International Brigade memorial in Madrid (pictured).
The motion has 56 signatures: 45 Labour MPs, five Liberal Democrats, three Plaid Cymru and one Conservative, Respect and SNP apiece. A similar-worded motion in the Scottish Parliament is supported by 22 MSPs (13 Labour, eight SNP and one Independent).
The Commons motion reads: “That this House notes the current Spanish Supreme Court’s instruction to the Complutense University of Madrid to remove a very modest memorial to the International Brigades, including its British citizens, who died during the Spanish Civil War; further notes that the campus became a key theatre of war in November 1936 and that this is the only memorial of its kind in Madrid; and calls on the government to make representations to the Spanish government to ensure that the memorial remains in place, so that future generations may be reminded of some of the more important moments in their history.”
Madrid’s Complutense University has been ordered by the regional high court to remove the memorial, which was unveiled in October 2011 in the presence of four Brigaders, including David Lomon from Britain.
The order by Madrid’s Tribunal Superior de Justicia was made on 3 June, on the grounds that the monument had been erected by the university without planning permission. The university is insisting that it twice applied for the permission, but did not receive a reply from the city council, which is controlled by the right-wing Popular Party.
The IBMT donated 500 euros towards the cost of the memorial. Several other International Brigade associations also contributed to the financial appeal launched by the AABI, as did the Madrid embassies of Argentina, Canada, Cyprus, Norway, Russia, Serbia and Slovenia.
The court’s decision has been greeted with dismay by the AABI activists, who note that, though it was made on technical grounds, the original complaint was lodged by a lawyer with known far-right connections. They also point out that Franco’s huge Arco de la Victoria (Victory Arch) still stands at the entrance to the University City.
In a letter to the Spanish ambassador in London, Frederico Trillo, IBMT Secretary Jim Jump said the decision would be interpreted by many people as evidence that there were institutions in Spain that had still not come to terms with the country’s recent history.
“For a Spanish court to be seen to be acting in a way that denigrates the memory of those who fought in Spain against European fascism and on the side of a democratic government is highly damaging to the image of Spain in the outside world,” he added.
MPs who have signed the motion in the House of Commons:
Hugh Bayley (Labour) York Central
Anne Begg (Labour) Aberdeen South
Paul Blomfield (Labour) Sheffield Central
Peter Bottomley (Conservative Party) Worthing West
Richard Burden (Labour) Birmingham Northfield
Ronnie Campbell (Labour) Blyth Valley
Martin Caton (Labour) Gower
Katy Clark (Labour) North Ayrshire and Arran
Tom Clarke (Labour) Coatbridge Chryston and Bellshill
Rosie Cooper (Labour) West Lancashire
Jeremy Corbyn (Labour) Islington North
David Crausby (Labour) Bolton North East
John Cryer (Labour) Leyton and Wanstead
Ian Davidson (Labour) Glasgow South West
Jim Dobbin (Labour) Heywood and Middleton
Frank Dobson (Labour) Holborn and St Pancras
Frank Doran (Labour) Aberdeen North
Jim Dowd (Labour) Lewisham West and Penge
Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru) Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
Paul Flynn (Labour) Newport West
Hywel Francis (Labour) Aberavon
George Galloway (Respect) Bradford West
Mary Glindon (Labour) North Tyneside
Mike Hancock (Liberal Democrats) Portsmouth South
Tom Harris (Labour) Glasgow South
Dai Havard (Labour) Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney
John Hemming (Liberal Democrats) Birmingham Yardley
Stephen Hepburn (Labour) Jarrow
Kate Hoey (Labour) Vauxhall
Kelvin Hopkins (Labour) Luton North
Stewart Hosie (Scottish National Party) Dundee East
George Howarth (Labour) Knowsley
Simon Hughes (Liberal Democrats) Bermondsey and Old Southwark
Glenda Jackson (Labour) Hampstead and Kilburn
Ian Lavery (Labour) Wansbeck
Mark Lazarowicz (Labour) Edinburgh North and Leith
Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid Cymru) Dwyfor Meirionnydd
Andrew Love (Labour) Edmonton
John McDonnell (Labour) Hayes and Harlington
Alan Meale (Labour) Mansfield
Graeme Morrice (Labour) Livingston
Grahame M Morris (Labour) Easington
George Mudie (Labour) Leeds East
Greg Mulholland (Liberal Democrats) Leeds North West
Fiona O'Donnell (Labour) East Lothian
Sandra Osborne (Labour) Ayr Carrick and Cumnock
Linda Riordan (Labour) Halifax
John Robertson (Labour) Glasgow North West
Steve Rotheram (Labour) Liverpool Walton
Lindsay Roy (Labour) Glenrothes
Chris Ruane (Labour) Vale of Clwyd
Virendra Sharma (Labour) Ealing Southall
Dennis Skinner (Labour) Bolsover
Owen Smith (Labour) Pontypridd
David Ward (Liberal Democrats) Bradford East
Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru) Arfon
To sign an international petition form, which is hosted by @change.org, go to: [http://tinyurl.com/ke3s3uu]. The petition is in Spanish but this can be changed by scrolling down to the foot of the page and choosing a different language.