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Save the Madrid memorial to the International Brigades

 

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

 

See: www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/204

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.