அரசியல் பிரச்சாரத்தின் ஆதாரக் கோட்பாடு

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அரசியல் பிரச்சாரத்தின் ஆதாரக் கோட்பாடு.

'' நீதி, மதம், அரசியல், சமுதாயம் சம்பந்தமான எல்லாவித சொல்லடுக்குகளுக்கும் பிரகடனங்களுக்கும் வாக்குறுதிகளுக்கும் பின்னே ஏதாவதொரு வர்க்கத்தின் நலன்கள் ஒழிந்து நிற்பதைக் கண்டுகொள்ள மக்கள் தெரிந்துகொள்ளாத வரையில் அரசியலில் அவர்கள் முட்டாள்தனமான ஏமாளிகளாகவும் தம்மைத் தாமே ஏமாற்றிக்கொள்வோராகவும் இருந்தனர், எப்போதும் இருப்பார்கள். பழைய ஏற்பாடு ஒவ்வொன்றும் எவ்வளவுதான் காட்டு மிராண்டித் தனமாகவும் அழுகிப் போனதாகவும் தோன்றிய போதிலும் ஏதாவது ஒரு ஆளும்வர்க்கத்தின் சக்தியைக் கொண்டு அது நிலைநிறுத்தப்பட்டு வருகிறது. சீர்திருத்தங்கள், அபிவிருத்திகள் ஆகியவற்றின் ஆதரவாளர்கள் இதை உணராத வரையில் பழைய அமைப்பு முறையின் பாதுகாவலர்கள் அவர்களை என்றென்றும் முட்டாளாக்கிக் கொண்டே இருப்பார்கள். இந்த வர்க்கங்களின் எதிர்ப்பைத் தகர்த்து ஒழிப்பதற்கு ஒரே ஒரு வழிதான் உண்டு. அது என்ன?

பழைமையைத் துடைத்தெறியவும் புதுமையைச் சிருக்ஷ்டிக்கவும் திறன் பெற்றவையும், சமுதாயத்தில் தாங்கள் வகிக்கும் ஸ்தானத்தின் காரணமாக அப்படிச் சிருக்ஷ்டித்துக் தீரவேண்டிய நிர்ப்பந்தத்திலிருக்கிறவையுமான சக்திகளை, நம்மைச் சூழ்ந்துள்ள இதே சமுதாயத்துக்குள்ளேயே நாம் கண்டுபிடித்து, அந்தச் சக்திகளுக்கு ஞானமூட்டிப் போராட்டத்துக்கு ஸ்தாபன ரீதியாகத் திரட்ட வேண்டும். இது ஒன்றேதான் வழி. ''

மாமேதை தோழர் லெனின்
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Friday, 20 October 2017

பிணக்கனம் - சூரியன் கவிமொழி


Putin slams Western 'double standards' over Catalonia

Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine
Putin slams Western 'double standards' over Catalonia
AFP 20 October 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the Catalan crisis was Spain's internal affair but slammed what he called Western double standards over separatist movements.

"Russia's position is known here. All that is happening is Spain's internal business and must be resolved within Spanish law and on the basis of democratic traditions," Putin said at a meeting with international relations experts in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

However, he argued the crisis exposed Western inconsistency and hypocrisy in backing some separatists while opposing others -- such as support for Kosovan independence, but opposition to Catalan and Kurdish claims.

"What we see is that in our partners' view there are worthy fighters for independence and there are separatists who cannot defend their rights."

"Such double standards -- this is a very striking example of double standards -- are fraught with serious danger for the stable development of Europe and other continents," Putin said.

The Russian leader said Western powers had long been aware of "the antagonism within Europe", referring to Catalonia.

"They knew, didn't they?" he said. "Yet in their day they practically welcomed the breakup of a whole number of European states, without concealing their glee."

He cited recognition of independence of majority-Albanian Kosovo from Russia's traditional ally Serbia.

"Why did they have to, so thoughtlessly, unquestioningly support Kosovo's breaking away?" Putin asked.

He accused European countries of "the wish, frankly, to please Big Brother from Washington" over Kosovo, saying this then provoked "similar processes in Europe and the world".

He questioned why Europe went on to oppose Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and independence movements in Spain and Iraq's Kurdistan.

"So now we see Catalonia. In another region there is Kurdistan. And that may still be far from an exhaustive list," Putin said.

A non-binding independence referendum in Iraq's Kurdistan region in September saw a resounding "yes" vote.

The European Union has urged both sides "to seek dialogue in order to preserve Iraq's unity and long-term stability".

Moscow says it supports the territorial integrity of Iraq but views Kurdish national aspirations with respect.

Malwatte Chapter does not oppose new constitution - Anunayake thera


Anunayake thera
Malwatte Chapter does not oppose new constitution - Anunayake thera
Daily News LK Friday, October 20, 2017 - 06:15

Asela KURULUWANSA

The Karaka Maha Sangha Sabha of the Malwatte Chapter had not decided to oppose a new constitution or bringing amendments to the present Constitution of the country, the Anunayaka of the Malwatte Chapter Ven.Dimbulkumbure Wimaladhamma Thera said yesterday. Refuting media reports that Karaka Maha Sangha Sabha of both Malwatte and Asgiriya chapters had decided to oppose a new constitution, Wimaladhamma Thera said that a few members of the Karaka Maha Sangha Sabha of both chapters had met on Wednesday to discuss constitutional reforms and the Malwatte chapter had not taken any decision to oppose the formation of a new constitution.

The Thera also said that the Mahanayake Theras of both the Malwatte and Asgiriya chapters had not taken part in the meeting.

The Thera said that he had represented the Malwatte chapter during the talks and the Asigiriya chapter was represented by Ven.Tibbotuwawe Medhankara Thera.

Ven.Dimbulkumbure Wimaladhamma Thera said that the Malwatte chapter will only take a decision on the new constitution after briefing the Chief Incumbent of the Malwatte chapter about what transpired during the meeting.

He said that the Malwatte Chapter will not arrive at any decision without the consent of the Mahanayaka Thera. The Thera said that the Mahanayake Thera’s of both the Malwatte and Asgiriya chapters will further study the proposed constitutional reforms before arriving at a final decision.

Wimaladhamma Thera said that the comments he made on Wednesday were his personal opinion and not a collective decision taken by the Karaka Sabha of the Malwatte chapter.

He went on to say that the Mahanayake of the Malwatte chapter was currently overseas and matters related to the constitution will be discussed when he returns.

3 Major Takeaways from Xi ’s Speech at the 19th Party Congress

3 Major Takeaways from Xi Jinping’s Speech at the 19th Party Congress
By Charlotte Gao October 18, 2017- The Diplomat
   
All eyes at home and abroad were on Chinese President Xi Jinping as he kicked off the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 19th Party Congress — the most important Chinese political event, held once in every five years — during which the top Chinese leadership will be reshuffled.

On the morning of October 18, Xi took nearly three and a half hours to present the opening speech — known as a work report — under the title of “To secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.” The work report is a chance for the Party’s top leader to showcase achievements since the previous Party Congress and outline future endeavors. While the comprehensive speech covers almost every field related to China’s development and the Chinese people’s well-being, the followings are the three major points particularly worth noting for observers interested in the CCP’s security policy.

1. China will create a world-class military

Xi, who also holds the position of chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), said China will keep strengthening the military and comprehensively promote national defense and military modernization, including “a modern army, navy, air force, rocket army, and strategic support force, and a strong and efficient command agency for joint operations.”

Xi also set the goals for Chinese military: by 2020, Chinese military should have basically realized mechanization, made significant progress in information technology, and made a big leap in strategic ability; by 2035, modernized national defense and military should be basically achieved; and by 2050, the Chinese military should be a world-class one.

“A military is prepared for war. All military works must adhere to the standards of being able to fight a war and win a war.” said Xi, “Our army is the people’s army; our defense is national defense. [We must] enhance the education on national defense education, consolidate the unity between the military and civilian, in order to achieve the Chinese dream of a strong military.”

In fact, since Xi came into office five years ago, he had repeatedly emphasized “the Chinese dream of a strong military” and the goal of fostering a military that can win wars.

With these goals in place for China’s military modernization, expect China’s national defense expenses will keep soaring in the following years.

2. Flexing muscles toward Taiwan

Although many analysts already anticipated that Xi would mention Taiwan during his speech — as Taiwan remains one of the most sensitive and critical issues for the CCP — Xi’s strong remarks this time still somewhat exceeded people’s expectations.

Regarding Taiwan, Xi said in his speech:

[We will] resolutely safeguard the national sovereignty and territorial integrity and will absolutely not tolerate the tragedy of the country’s split. Any activity aiming to split the motherland will be firmly opposed by all the Chinese people. We have a firm will, sufficient faith, and adequate capacity to defeat any intention of “Taiwan independence” in any form. [We will] never allow any person, any organization, any political party, at any time, in any form, to separate any piece of Chinese territory from China.
In addition, Xi stressed the importance of the “1992 Consensus”, or the “One China principle,” which Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has been refusing to publicly recognize since she came into office last year. 

Xi said the 1992 Consensus is the key to ensuring the peaceful development of cross-strait relations. “Only by recognizing the historical facts of the ‘1992 Consensus’, that both sides belong to one China, can the two sides across the Strait start to have a dialogue.”

Since Tsai came into office,  the cross-strait relationship has been deteriorating. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has stopped a regular dialogue mechanism with its Taiwanese counterpart, the Mainland Affairs Council. That was the only direct official pipeline between the two central governments across the Strait. Xi’s rhetoric has once again made it clear that recognizing the “1992 Consensus” is the precondition for the CCP to resume the dialogue mechanism. It’s also likely that Xi will add more pressure on Tsai after the Party Congress. 

 3. Dangling a carrot to Hong Kong

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. Meanwhile, the tensions between Hong Kong and the mainland have shown signals of escalating. Some Hong Kong people have even called for independence from China, as The Diplomat has reported. An increasing number of analysts are starting to cast a doubtful light on the “one country, two systems” principle implemented in Hong Kong.

In his speech, Xi also specially discussed Hong Kong and the “one country, two systems” principle.

Compared to his remarks on Taiwan, Xi’s tone toward Hong Kong was significantly softer. He said the central government will support Hong Kong as well Macau to fully get involved in the overall development of the whole country, promote the mainland’s cooperation with Hong Kong and Macau, and put forward policy to facilitate Hong Kong and Macau citizens developing the mainland.


Despite the carrot, Xi didn’t forget to emphasize the central government’s authority in Hong Kong. “[We must] maintain the central authority in Hong Kong and guarantee Hong Kong’s autonomy at the same time. [We must] ensure that the ‘one country, two systems’ policy will not change or deform,” said Xi.

Source: The Diplomat

Spain to trigger Article 155 to block Catalan autonomy


Trump: 'I think the people of Catalonia would stay with Spain'
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Mariano Rajoy met Donald Trump at the White House. Photo: AFP
Spain to trigger Article 155 to block Catalan autonomy
by Creede Newton

Spain will enact Article 155 of the Constitution which allows Madrid to suspend Catalonia's autonomy, the prime minister's office said in a statement.

The measure will be sent to the Senate for approval on Saturday, the statement on Thursday said.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was responding to a letter by Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, which said Catalonia will declare independence should Spain continue to block talks and enact Article 155.

Spain denounced the attitude maintained by those responsible for harming "the coexistence and economic structure of Catalonia", the prime minister's statement said, promising that Madrid would do everything in its power to restore "legality and constitutional order".

Spanish government spokesperson Inigo Mendez de Vigo told reporters in Madrid: "Cabinet ministers will approve the [Article 155] measures on Saturday, which will be submitted to the Senate to protect the interests of the Spanish people - including the Catalans in Catalonia.

"The government will do everything in its power to put a brake on the economic deterioration in Catalonia caused by the actions of the present Catalonia president."

Puigdemont is yet to respond to Madrid's latest move.

Article 155, which is described as the "nuclear option", has never been used since the Constitution was ratified in 1978.

Thursday's developments extend a struggle between Madrid and Barcelona over the status of Catalonia since the disputed October 1 referendum on secession from Spain, which was halted by "excessive force" from Spanish national police.

Earlier in the day, Puigdemont's second letter in a week called for talks and threatened to declare Catalan independence if Article 155 was enacted.

"If the central government persists in impeding dialogue and continuing its repression, Catalonia's parliament will proceed ... with a vote to formally declare independence," Puigdemont's letter said.

The stripping of Catalonia's autonomy is sure to increase tensions between Madrid and Barcelona, which are already high. Two pro-independence organisers, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, were imprisoned Monday without bail pending charges of sedition.

An estimated 200,000 people took to the streets to demand their release in Barcelona on Tuesday, calling them "political prisoners".

The Catalan government says voters overwhelmingly supported independence with 90 percent of votes for secession, but turnout was less than 50 percent.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS


Thursday, 19 October 2017

Highlights of Xi's report to 19th CPC National Congress

Highlights of Xi's report to 19th CPC National Congress

Xi Jinping delivers a report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on behalf of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 18, 2017. The CPC opened the 19th National Congress at the Great Hall of the People Wednesday morning. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)
































BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Xi Jinping delivered a report to the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Wednesday. The following are the highlights of the report:

A NEW ERA WITH NEW THOUGHT

Socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era.

The CPC has given shape to the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,
a long-term guide to action that the Party must adhere to and develop.
The Thought builds on and further enriches Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on

Development. It represents the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context.

GREAT MODERN SOCIALIST COUNTRY

The CPC has drawn up a two-stage development plan for the period from 2020 to the middle of the 21st century to develop China into a "great modern socialist country."
In the first stage from 2020 to 2035, the CPC will build on the foundation created by the moderately prosperous society with a further 15 years of hard work to see that socialist modernization is basically realized.

In the second stage from 2035 to the middle of the 21st century, the CPC will, building on having basically achieved modernization, work hard for a further 15 years and develop

China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.

The principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved to be that between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life.

Now the needs to be met for the people to live a better life are increasingly broad. Not only have their material and cultural needs grown, their demands for democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice, security, and a better environment are increasing.

ECONOMY

China's economy has been transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development.

In developing a modernized economy, the country must focus on the real economy. China will support state capital in becoming stronger, doing better, and growing bigger, turn

Chinese enterprises into world-class, globally competitive firms.

China will leverage the fundamental role of consumption in promoting economic growth and improve the framework of regulation underpinned by monetary policy and macro-prudential policy, and see that interest rates and exchange rates become more market-based.

OPENING UP

China will not close its door to the world; it will only become more and more open.

China will implement the system of pre-establishment national treatment plus a negative list across the board.

China will significantly ease market access and protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors.

LAW

The CPC will set up a central leading group for advancing law-based governance in all areas.
It will strengthen oversight to ensure compliance with the Constitution, advance constitutionality review, and safeguard the authority of the Constitution.

ECOLOGICAL PROGRESS

The CPC has incorporated Beautiful China into its two-stage development plan for building a great modern socialist country.

The modernization is one characterized by harmonious coexistence between man and nature.
China will establish regulatory agencies to manage state-owned natural resource assets and monitor natural ecosystems, and develop a nature reserves system composed mainly of national parks.

ARMED FORCES

By the year 2020, military mechanization will be basically achieved, with IT application coming a long way and strategic capabilities seeing a big improvement. The modernization of the national defense and armed forces should be basically completed by 2035.

The people's armed forces will be transformed into world-class military by the mid-21st century.

DIPLOMACY

No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion.

PARTY BUILDING

Having gained overwhelming momentum in its fight against corruption, the Party is determined to secure a sweeping victory over the greatest threat to the Party.

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-18 15:19:58|Editor: ZD

ENB POSTER CATALONIA 155


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Catalonia President Statement 10-10-2017 Text





Official Statement by the President on the political situation in Catalonia

Barcelona, 10 October 2017

I stand here before Parliament to present to you the results of the referendum held on October 1 and to explain the political consequences derived from it. I am conscious, as I’m sure are many of you, that today I also stand before the people of Catalonia and before many others, who have focused their attention on what happens today in this chamber.

We are living in an exceptional time, of historical dimension. The consequences and effects run beyond our country and it’s evident that, far from being an internal and domestic affair, as we have often had to hear from those who neglected their responsibility by not wanting to know about what’s happening, Catalonia is a European issue.

Do not expect, from my speech, threats, blackmail nor insults. The current moment is serious enough for everyone to assume their corresponding responsibility and for the necessity to deescalate tension and not to contribute to it, neither through word nor gesture. On the other hand, I wish to address the people; those who came out on the 1st and the 3rd of October, those who went to the demonstration on Saturday to advocate for dialogue, and those who came out massively on Sunday in defence of the unity of Spain. And to those who haven’t come out in any of those gatherings. All of us, with all of our differences, with all our points of understanding and divergence, all form part of the same people, and we must continue to work together, whatever happens, because that is how the history of a people who want to build a future is made.

Obviously, we will never agree on everything. But we do understand, because we’ve already demonstrated it, that the way forward can be none other than through democracy and peace.

That means respecting those who think differently, and finding a way to make possible collective aspirations, with the realisation that that requires a large dose of dialogue and empathy.

As you may well imagine, in these recent days and hours many have spoken with me, suggesting both what needs to be done and what needs not be done. All of those suggestions are valid, respectable and appropriate for a moment like this. In all cases where I could I appreciated receiving them, because in each one I’ve heard good reasons which are worth listening to. I have also asked the opinion of many people, which has helped me and enriched the analysis of this moment in time and the perspective for the future, and I want to give them my heartfelt thanks.

But what I’m presenting to you today is not a personal decision, nor is it the obsession of anyone person: it’s the result of the 1st of October, of the will of the government which I preside over having maintained its commitment to call, organise and hold a referendum of self determination, and naturally of the analysis of the following facts which we have shared at the core of Government. Today is the time to talk about the results in the Parliament and that’s what we’re going to do.

We are here because on the 1st of October Catalonia held a referendum of self-determination. It was done in conditions, which were, rather than difficult, extreme. It’s the first time in the history of European democracies that an election day was held in the midst of violent police attacks against voters who were queueing to post their vote. From 8 in the morning until the close of polling stations, the Police and Guardia Civil beat defenceless people and obliged the emergency services to attend to more than 800 people. We all saw it, as did the world, which was horrified as the images came through.

The objective was not only to confiscate ballot boxes and voting papers. The objective was to cause panic and make people, as they saw the images of indiscriminate police violence, stay at home and renounce their right to vote. But those politically responsible for these ignominious acts shot themselves in the foot. 2, 286, 217 citizens overcame their fear, left their homes and voted. We don’t know how many were unsuccessful in doing so, but we do know that the polling stations which were closed down violently represented the votes of 770,000 more people.

More than two million two hundred thousand Catalans were able to vote because they overcame their fear, and because when they arrived at their polling station they found ballot boxes, envelopes, voting slips, constituted voting tables and an operative and reliable electoral list. The operations and police searches of the previous weeks in seeking ballot boxes and voting slips did not prevent the referendum. Phone taps, following people, cyber-attacks, the closure of 140 websites, interference in correspondence, none of these things could stop the referendum. I repeat: in spite of the efforts and resources dedicated to prevent it happening, when the citizens arrived at the polling stations, they found ballot boxes, envelopes, voting slips, constituted voting tables and an operative and reliable electoral list.

I wish, therefore, to recognise and appreciate all of the people who made possible this logistical and political success. To the volunteers who slept in the polling stations. To the citizens who kept the ballot boxes in their homes. To those who printed the voting slips. To the computer technicians who came up with and developed the universal electoral list. To the workers in the Government. To those who voted yes or no, and those who voted blank. To so many anonymous people who did their part to make it all possible. And above all, I send my best wishes and solidarity to all those injured and mistreated in the police operation. Those images will remain in our memories forever. We will never forget.

We must recognise and denounce that the actions of the state have caused tension and worry in Catalan society. As President of Catalonia, I’m very conscious that at this time there are many people who are worried, anxious and even scared about what is happening and what may come to pass. People of all ideas and political leanings. Gratuitous violence and the decision of some companies to transfer their headquarters, in a decision, allow me to say, more related to their markets than to real effects in our economy (what does have real effect on our economy is the 16 billion Catalan euros which are obliged to leave each year), are facts which without doubt have clouded the picture. To all those people who are afraid, I wish to send them a message of comprehension and empathy, and also of serenity and tranquillity: the Government of Catalonia will not deviate one millimetre from its commitment to social and economic progress, democracy, dialogue, tolerance, respect for difference and a willingness to negotiate. As President I will always act with responsibility and keeping in mind the seven and a half million citizens of the country.

I would like to explain where we are, and especially why we are where we are. Today as the world is watching us, and indeed, today as the world is listening to us, I think it’s worth going back and explaining ourselves.

Since the death of the military dictator Francisco Franco, Catalonia has contributed at least as much as anyone else to the consolidation of Spanish democracy. Catalonia has been not only the economic engine of Spain, but also a modernising and stabling influence. Catalonia believed that the Spanish Constitution of 1978 could be a good starting point to guarantee its self-government and its material progress. Catalonia was deeply involved in the process of returning the Spanish state to European and international institutions after 40 years of isolation. The passing of the years, however, began to show that the new institutional structure which came out of the Transition, which Catalonia saw as a good starting point towards evolving to new heights of democracy and self-governance, was seen by the hegemonic elite of the state not as a point of departure, but in fact as a point of arrival. With the passing of the years, the system not only stopped evolving in the desired direction for the people of Catalonia, but began to devolve.

Consistent with this finding, in the year 2005, a large majority, 88% of this Parliament, I repeat an 88% majority in this Parliament, following the steps marked out by the Constitution, I repeat, following the steps marked out by the Constitution, approved a proposal for a new Statute of Autonomy, and sent it to the Spanish Congress of Deputies. The Catalan proposal unleashed an authentic campaign of Catalanophobia, tied to an irresponsible manner by those who  wanted to govern Spain at any price.

The text which was finally submitted for referendum in 2006 was already very different from the initial proposal from the Catalan Parliament, but despite that was approved by the citizens who voted on it. Turnout was 47%, and the votes in favour of the Statute were 1,899,897. I’d like to point out that that’s 145,000 votes fewer than the yes vote for independence on the 1st of October.

The state, however, hadn’t had enough with the first reduction. In 2010, four years after the entry in law of the watered down Statute, a Constitutional Court made up of magistrates handpicked by the two main Spanish political parties, emitted an disgraceful sentence which watered down the Statute for a second time, modifying the content which had been voted on by the people in a referendum.

It’s worth remembering this, and underlining it. Despite having followed all the procedures of the constitution, despite being backed by 88% of the Parliament of Catalonia, and despite popular approval in a referendum, the combined action by the Congress of Deputies and the Constitutional Court converted the Catalan proposal into an unrecognisable text. And it’s worth remembering and underlining also: this unrecognisable text, doubly edited and not voted upon by Catalans, this is the current law in force. This has been the result of Catalonia trying to modify its Juridical Statute by constitutional means: a humiliation.

But that’s not everything. Since the sentence of the Constitutional Court against the Statute voted upon by the people, the Spanish political system not only has not moved a finger to try to go back and repair this break, but rather it has activated an aggressive and systematic program of recentralisation. From the point of view of self-government, the last seven years have been the worst of the last forty: continual degradation of competencies through a series of decrees, laws and sentences; inattention and lack of investment in the basic system of infrastructure in Catalonia, a key part of a country’s economic progress; and hurtful disrespect towards our language, culture and the way of life in our country.

Everything that I explain in these short lines has had a profound impact in Catalan society. It’s got to the point that during this period many Catalans, millions of Catalans, have come to the rational conclusion that the only way to guarantee survival, not only of self-government, but of our values as a society, is the foundation of Catalonia as a state. The results of the last elections to the Parliament of Catalonia are a testament to this.

Furthermore, something even more relevant has happened: in parallel with the formation of a pro-independence absolute majority in the Parliament, a broad consensus has been forged that the future of Catalonia, whatever it may be, had to be decided by the Catalan people, democratically and pacifically, through a referendum. In the most recent poll by an important newspaper in Madrid, not from here, from Madrid, 82% of Catalans expressed this idea.

With the objective of making possible this referendum, in the last few years the Catalan institutions and civil societies have generated many initiatives before the Spanish government and its institutions. It’s all documented: up to 18 times, and in all possible formats, opening a dialogue has been proposed to agree a referendum similar to the one held in Scotland on 18 September 2014. A referendum with the date and a question agreed between the two sides, in which both sides could campaign and present their arguments, and in which both sides commit to accepting and applying the result through a negotiation which protects their respective interests. If that has been possible in one of the oldest, most consolidated and exemplary democracies in the world, as the United Kingdom is, why could it not also be done in Spain?

The answer to all of those initiatives has been a radical and absolute no, combined with police and judicial persecution of Catalan authorities. Ex-President Artur Mas and ex-ministers Joana Ortega and Irene Rigau, as with the ex-minister of Presidency Francesc Homs, have been banned from holding office for having promoted a non-binding participative process without juridical effect on the 9 of November 2014. And not only banned from public office, but also fined in an arbitrary and abusive way: if they do not deposit more than 5 million euros to the Spanish Court of Accounts, all of their assets will be embargoed and their families may be affected.

Apart from them, the bureau of this Parliament and dozens of municipal elected officials have been charged for expressing support for the right to decide and permit debates on the referendum. Charges have been brought against the President of the Parliament and its bureau to prevent them permitting the debate to take place. The last wave of repression against Catalan institutions has resulted in the detainment and arrest of 16 officials and public servants in the Government of Catalonia, who had to appear in court handcuffed and without being informed of the accusation against them. The world needs to know too that the leaders of the entities which have led the biggest peaceful demonstrations in Europe’s history are charged with the crime of sedition, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. These are people responsible for having organised demonstrations which amazed the world for their civility and lack of incident.

This has been the answer of the Spanish State to Catalan demands, which have always been expressed in a peaceful way and through the majorities obtained at the polls. The people of Catalonia have demanded the freedom to be able to decide for years. It’s very simple. We have not found anyone to dialogue with in the past nor are we finding one in the present. There is no State institution that is open to talking about the claim of the majority of this Parliament and of Catalan society. The last hope we could have left was for the monarchy to exercise the arbitration and moderating role that the constitution attaches to it, but the last week's speech confirmed our worst assumptions.

I now turn to the citizens of the whole of the Spanish state who are following with concern what is happening in Catalonia. I want to convey a message of serenity and respect, a willingness to dialogue and of political accord, as has always been our desire and our priority. I am aware of the information that is conveyed to them by most media and the narrative that has been established. But I dare to ask them to make an effort, for the good of all; an effort to know and recognise what has led us here and the reasons that have driven us. We are not delinquents, nor are we crazy, nor are we attempting a coup, nor just some bad people: we are normal people who ask to be able to vote and who have been willing to undertake all necessary dialogue to carry it out in an agreed manner. We have nothing against Spain and the Spanish.

Quite the opposite. We want to understand each other better, and that is the desire of the majority in Catalonia. Because today, for many years now, the relationship isn’t working and nothing has been done to reverse a situation that has become unsustainable. And a people can not be compelled, against its will, to accept a status quo that it did not vote for and does not want. The Constitution is a democratic framework, but it is equally true that there is democracy beyond the Constitution.

Ladies and gentlemen, with the results of the referendum on October 1st, Catalonia has earned the right to be an independent state, and has earned the right to be heard and respected. I must recognise that today Catalonia is being listened to and respected beyond our frontiers. The yes to independence won an absolute majority in the elections, and two years later it has won a referendum under the attacks of batons. The ballot boxes, the only language we understand, say yes to independence. And this is the route I am committed to traveling. As is known, the Referendum Law establishes that, two days after the official proclamation of the results, and in the case where the number of Yes votes is superior to the number of No votes, the Parliament (and I cite the wording of the law) “will hold an ordinary session to put into effect a formal declaration of the independence of Catalonia, its effects and agree the beginning of the constituent process”.

There’s a before and after the 1st of October, and we have achieved what we committed ourselves to at the beginning of this legislature. Arriving at this historic moment, and as President of the Generalitat I take it upon myself to say, in presenting to you the results of the referendum before Parliament and our co-citizens, that the people have determined that Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic.

That is what needs to be done today, responsibly and with respect.

In with the same solemnity, the Government and I myself propose that the Parliament suspends the effects of the declaration of independence so that in the coming weeks we may begin a dialogue without which it is impossible to arrive at an agreed solution. We firmly believe that this moment needs not only a de-escalation of tension but also a clear and committed willingness to advance the claims of the people of Catalonia from the results of the 1st of October. We must keep these results in mind during the period of dialogue which we are willing to open.

It is well-known that since the referendum different mediation initiatives have been put in place, regarding dialogue and negotiation and at national, state and international level. Some of these are publicly known, while others are not known yet. All are serious attempts, and were difficult to imagine happening just a short time ago. The cries for dialogue and for no violence have been heard from all corners of the globe; yesterday’s declaration by a group of eight Nobel Peace Prize winners; the declaration the group The Elders led by the ex-secretary general of the United Nations Kofi Annan and made up of people of great world relevance; the positions of Presidents and Prime Ministers of European countries, European political leaders…

There’s a prayer for dialogue which runs through Europe, because Europe already feels interrupted by the effects of what could happen with a bad resolution of this conflict. All of these voices deserve to be listened to. And all, without exception, have asked that we open a time to give dialogue with the Spanish state a chance.

That is also what needs to be done today, responsibly and with respect.

In finishing, I call on the responsibility of everyone. To the citizens of Catalonia, I ask that we continue to express ourselves as we have done up to now, with freedom and with respect from those who think differently. To companies and economic stakeholders, I ask that they continue to generate wealth and not fall into the temptation to use their power to influence the population. To the political parties, I ask that they contribute with their words and actions to lower the tension. I also ask this of the media. To the Spanish government, I ask that they listen, not to us if they don’t want, but to those who advocate for mediation and to the international community, and to the millions of citizens around Spain who ask that they renounce repression and imposition. To the European Union, I ask that they get deeply involved and hold up the fundamental values of the Union.

Today the Government of Catalonia makes a gesture of responsibility and generosity, and again reaches out its hand in dialogue. I’m convinced that, if in the coming days everyone acts with the same responsibility and fulfils their obligations, the conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish state can be resolved in a manner that is serene and with accord, respecting the will of the people. For us, this will not stop here. Because we want to be true to our long history, to all who suffered and made sacrifices, and because we want a future of dignity for our children,for all those people who want to make Catalonia their land of welcome and hope.

Thank you very much.


Carles Puigdemont Casamajó
President of the Catalan Government

http://www.catalangovernment.eu/pres_gov/government/en/president/speeches-remarks-official-statements.html

=================== ENB

Monday, 16 October 2017

Peshmerga: Baghdad to pay heavy price for declaring war today

NEWS/IRAQ


Peshmerga: Baghdad to pay heavy price for declaring war today  

The Kurdish Peshmerga command has said the Iraqi government will pay a "heavy price" for its military campaign in Kirkuk, which it described as "a declaration of war against the nation of Kurdistan".

The warning by the Peshmerga General Command (PGC) on Monday came as Iraqi federal forces, backed by Shia militia, said they had taken full control of oil-rich Kirkuk in a swift advance on Kurdish-held positions.

The PGC accused some of the leaders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of "treason", alleging that forces under the party's control had withdrawn from areas they held. The PUK has denied the accusations, according to Kurdish news portal Rudaw.

"Unfortunately, some officials from the ... PUK helped this plot against the Kurdistan nation and committed a great and historic treason against Kurdistan and the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for Kurdistan under the PUK flag," the statement said.

Separately, Hemin Hawrami, special assistant to Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, posted on Twitter what he said was a statement by a main Shia militia group thanking PUK members for their cooperation in helping with the withdrawal from some of the areas around Kirkuk.

'Never united'

Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford, reporting from Erbil, said the fact that Iraqi forces were able to achieve their objective in just about 15 hours has left the KRG shocked and in need for answers.

"Already, there are questions being asked about whether leaders of one of the two main Kurdish political parties colluded with Iraqi military to ensure such a swift and easy victory in and around Kirkuk," he said.

Saad Jawad, professor of political science and senior fellow of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, said "it is a reality" that the Kurdish parties are divided.

"Of course, they agreed on certain things but they were never united," he told Al Jazeera.

"I think the Iraqi government with the pressure of the Iranian government  … managed to woo a part of the Peshmerga that belong to the PUK."

'Constitutional duty' 

The Iraqi forces' advance was part of a major operation to retake Kirkuk, amid an escalating dispute in the wake of a controversial September 25 referendum on Kurdish secession that Baghdad had declared illegal.

In a rapid push, the Iraqi army seized control of the city's airport, in addition to an oil field, the strategic K1 military base and the Taza Khormatu district southeast of Kirkuk, before capturing the governorate building in the city centre.

As the Iraqi army advanced, thousands of people, including civilians and Peshmerga fighters, fled the disputed city.

In its statement, the Peshmerga command accused the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of being responsible for initiating "war", warning Baghdad that it will "pay a heavy price for this unfairness".

"We call upon all the real Peshmerga of the country and the resilient and enemy-defeating people to do all they can to resist and defeat the attackers," it said.

For his part, al-Abadi urged the Peshmerga to collaborate in maintaining the peace in Kirkuk.

"We call upon the Peshmerga forces to perform their duty under the federal leadership as part of the Iraqi armed forces," he said in a statement on Facebook, urging "all employees in Kirkuk to continue their work normally and not to disrupt the interests of citizens".

Al-Abadi said he was fulfilling his constitutional duty "to serve the citizens and protect the unity of the country, which was in danger of partition due to the insistence on holding the referendum organised by those in power in the Kurdistan region in a unilateral step".

Kurdish Peshmerga forces took control of oil-rich Kirkuk after the Iraqi army fled from a major offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in 2014.

Since then, there has not been an agreement between the KRG and the federal government in Baghdad about who should control the area - and benefit from its vast oil wealth.

Tensions between the two sides have been running especially high since Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted for secession in last month's referendum.

The non-binding poll was held in areas under control of the KRG and in a handful of disputed territories, including Kirkuk.

Shortly after the referendum, the Iraqi parliament had asked al-Abadi to send troops to Kirkuk and regain control of the region's oil fields.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS  

Baghdad: Iraqi forces in full control of Kirkuk


A member of the Iraqi forces takes down the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk [Reuters]

NEWS/IRAQ

Baghdad: Iraqi forces in full control of Kirkuk

The Iraqi army says it has taken full control of Kirkuk following a major advance on Kurdish-held territories.

The federal government in Baghdad and sources inside the city told Al Jazeera on Monday that Iraqi security forces had captured the governorate building in the centre of Kirkuk city.

According to security forces, troops moved into the building with no opposition from Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

A dozen Humvees from Iraq's US-trained Counterterrorism Service arrived at the building and took position in the vicinity, alongside the local city police.

There was no immediate comment from Kurdish authorities.




'Complete withdrawal'

The advance was part of a major operation to retake the oil-rich province, amid an escalating dispute in the wake of a controversial September 25 referendum on Kurdish secession that Baghdad had declared illegal.

The Iraqi army said on Monday it had seized control of the city's airport, in addition to an oil field, the strategic K1 military base and the Taza Khormatu district southeast of Kirkuk.

As the Iraqi army advanced, thousands of people, including civilians and Peshmerga fighters, fled the disputed multi-ethnic city, home to about a million Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians.

Kurdish forces had previously vowed to defend Kirkuk, and for three days they were locked in an armed standoff with Iraqi government troops and allied Iranian-backed paramilitaries known as Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) on the outskirts of the city.

"It seems to be a complete withdrawal from the Peshmerga inside and around the city," said Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford, who followed Monday's events from the outskirts of Kirkuk.

He noted that was "really surprising" was the speed with which Kirkuk had fallen as it took Iraqi forces only about 15 hours to capture the city.

"A lot of people were very angry with this withdrawal," Stratford said.

"Standing by the side of the road, there were Peshmerga fighters demanding that their colleagues went back to Kirkuk and continued to try and defend it. Bt there were also a lot of very frightened people desperate to get out as quickly as possible."

'Blame game starting'

There were also signs of divisions among the Iraqi Kurds' two dominant factions, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), just a day after their leaders put on a show of unity by rejecting a demand by Baghdad to cancel the outcome of the referendum as a precondition for talks.

In a post on Twitter on Monday afternoon, Hemin Hawrami, special assistant to Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and KDP leader, posted on Twitter what he said was a statement by a main Shia militia group thanking PUK members for their cooperation in helping with the withdrawal from some of the areas around Kirkuk.

"The sense of surprise [after Kirkuk's fall] among the KRG must be quite incredible," Stratford said. "It's also interesting that we are beginning to hear the blame game starting," he added.

"There is going to be a lot of soul-searching, questioning and anger among the KRG about exactly how this happened after such a strong rhetoric for days that the Kurds remained united and that they would defend Kirkuk at all cost."

Kurdish Peshmerga forces took control of oil-rich Kirkuk after the Iraqi army fled from a major offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in 2014.

Since then, there has not been an agreement between the KRG and the federal government in Baghdad about who should control the area - and benefit from its vast oil wealth.

Tensions between the two sides have been running especially high since Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted for secession in last month's referendum.

The non-binding poll was held in areas under control of the KRG and in a handful of disputed territories, including Kirkuk.

Shortly after the referendum, the Iraqi parliament asked Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send troops to Kirkuk and take back control of the region's oil fields.

Kirkuk province is one of Iraq's two main oil-producing regions, believed to have around four percent of the world's oil resources.

It lies outside the official borders of the Kurds' semi-autonomous territory and is home to Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Christians.

The vast majority of Turkmen and Arabs who have lived in Kirkuk for generations boycotted the referendum.

"There are many Kurds who call it their Jerusalem," said Stratford, "but there's also considerable opposition among the Arabs and the Turkmen to any idea with respect to Kirkuk being part of a future independent Kurdish state."

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS