The International Commission of European Citizens, ICEC, which was established to campaign for the rights of European stateless nations to democratic self-determination, is ten years old. ICEC has created a network of grass-roots groups to give mutual support, exchange information and promote democratic rights.
We are very happy to announce our 10th anniversary as an international NGO for self-determination and independence. And it is, in preparation for this celebration on the 14th of July, that we’d like to thank all democrats throughout Europe (and beyond) that have shown us their support.
We must say that it is thanks to the constant, honest and independent approach of all ICEC partners and observers, and thanks to the popular support received since 2009 when we started to operate within the organisation of the Catalan grassroot movement of the popular referenda (2009-2011), that we’ve broken many glass ceilings and opened new spaces and opportunities for the cause of independence, and by doing so we are proud to have been the first association:
To establish an international NGO based in Brussels with the sole aim to actively defend the exercise of the universal Right of Self-determination and Independence of People.
To develop a network of international independent observers for different official referendums and elections.
To organise for the first time a joint demonstration (March 2013, Brussels) with different international independentist movements, defending not the right to self-determination (all people have it) but its exercise.
To campaign on a pan- European level to collect signatures in favour of the right of people to self-determine their future, and to present the 700.000 collected to the European parliament.
To give an annual conference in the European Parliament since 2010. With our commitment overcame many hurdles like when we were pushed by Tajani’s office to cancel the conference entitled: ‘Can Catalonia save Europe?’. All partners remained determined and the conference went ahead successfully
To create an informal hospitality programme to welcome and host independentist visitors in private homes and hostels. With the latest one in 2017 we organised free housing in Flemish homes for 1000 Catalan families.
To have regular presence in international media, with numerous interventions in world wide media (BBC, ITC, CNN, France 24h, Russia Today (RT), Aljazeera, El Globo, Politico, Progreso, and numerous national public radio USA, Australian, Irish, Bulgarian, Austrian,...) and several collaboration in different European printed books.
We’ve had an active political role for the last decade within the work undertaken by the Scottish, Catalan, Flemish, Basque, Veneto and Sud Tirolian movements fighting for self-determination and independence. We’ve been a steady and close witness through all these years while many of our countries achieved absolute majorities of independentist seats in our Parliaments and Governments. We did share the joy of so many independentist victories and we do share the despair when these same victories have not brought us yet the independence to our countries.
It is for all this, that we are renovating our website to be ready on the 14th of July with new approaches and initiatives soon to be announced, and with the wish to publish the following manifesto:
‘It was, it is, and it will be in the hands of the people’
For the last 12 years, European grassroot movements for self-determination together with political organisations sharing this same objective, have met and work together on successful initiatives under the umbrella of the International Commission of European Citizens (ICEC). These many shared projects have always had three main objectives:
1. To create a well established international meeting point in order to promote a direct flow of information at all levels amongst several countries, breaking a long existing isolation between national independence supporters which was preventing their mutual recognition and enrichment.
2. To defend and promote the Universal Right of People to Self-determination and Independence in both theory and action, enhancing a rich and tight collaboration with professionals from the academia and the media as well as determined activists and committed politicians.
3· To normalise amongst the European institutions and, specially, amongst the European citizenship the concept of self determination and independence as a positive, fair, achievable and ‘one for all beneficial’ political goal intrinsic to democracy and its core values of freedom, peace, equality and justice.
Millions of European citizens living in their own homeland are condemned to a second class citizenship not because of their origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, race or economic status but because of their culture. The turmoil of the vast amount of human rights violations that we suffer these days worldwide is deeply unsettling and sad and some may be inclined to believe that defending one’s own culture from the struggle to survive, may be a soft claim, WRONG. To be banned as people able to manage one’s own aspirations, sovereignty or language is an everyday suffering for millions of Europeans. To assert the right of people to be free and independent, is a must and it needs to be addressed if we long for a strong Europe, committed with democracy at its core values: freedom, equality, peace and justice.
How can this be happening in 21st century Europe?
We’d like to highlight three main points:
Globalism has brought us many important advances, however, the decision making is reduced to a handful of corporations who lobby to have European regulations and world wide government policies tailored in their favour and benefit. The concept of state and the idea that a state empowered by democratic votes, could decide not to agree to any of these complex inter-dependent multinational decisions is not an attractive scenario. Globalism see progress as the opportunity to provide solutions for a one, worldwide uniformed, motherland, accounting only for material benefits and disregarding culture and diversity as human truly essential way to provide a rich and fulfilling future for all.
After the second world war European states decided to exchange bullets for ballots as a wise, civilised way to resolve conflicts. At the same time though, many local questions were kept away from the international focus light; besides the international and domestic interest for the evolution of German, Russian and American tensioned relationships -within the recovery from a dramatic human, political and economical crisis- the situation of many territories inside recent or current dictatorships were ignored, leaving their case unresolved. There were no trials against some fascist regimes or any historical reparation to the terrible damage they caused, and today Euskal Herria, Catalonia, Veneto, South Tirol, etc... are yet suffering the consequences with the silent complicity of the European Union institutions, a tolerant stand which feeds aggressive state nationalism.
This has a direct consequence on the population and the politicians in many nations, today artificially reduced and levelled as ‘regions’ or ‘autonomies’. Through these recent years we have seen how millions of citizens were peacefully taking the streets to show their support for independence; we’ve seen how ballot boxes were filled with millions of votes for independence but yet, we haven’t seen any of these countries become an independent state.
The case of Catalonia has given a lesson: millions of people in the street and millions of votes for independence are not enough if in the moment to make independence a reality, the government in charge of the will of the people doesn't keep united and loyal to Democracy. Democracy needs to be proven, even more, when the adversary threatens with the use of violence against pacific population. It is then when the power of people’s vote (democracy) needs to be assumed and to rule the government decision. The threat of violence and the fear of violence can’t rule a country’s decision over what people have decided in their vote. If so, you’ll be enshrining the ‘threatening power’ that you have been criticising as demophobic, burning out any chance to be free. If democracy is the way, democratic mandate is a must do.
Today in Europe, ‘political prisoners’ are not a foreign, exotic reality. Half of the Catalan government was imprisoned and the other half forced to exile, it is true that all of them could have chose differently, they could stick to people’s mandate and stayed in Catalonia defending the institutions of the restored Catalan independent state but they chose not to as they declared, by a) an imminent threat of Spanish military bloodshed in the streets of Catalonia b) the advice given by Juncker and other political figures to start a dialogue with the Spanish state. Today, Spanish repression is full on, with more than 3000 Catalan citizens prosecuted in relation to the Catalan claim of independence (as the Basques youngsters of Altsasu wrongly imprisoned for political reasons).
ICEC stands next to all democrats fighting to reverse the unjust situation of their country in need of justice and independence. We consider utmost important to keep flooding the streets with the claim of independence, we regard essential to keep filling the ballot boxes with millions of independentists votes but we also consider as a key point, the need to examine the political reality of each country and to give a political push only to those politicians who are ready and prepared to obey democracy and, therefore, fulfil the mandate of independence expressed by its people, over and above any external threat, including state violence.
Independence is possible because independence is a democratic, legal and legitimate political goal supported by a majority of democrats. Its victory has always been, it is and it will only be in our hands, let’s unite them and win!