REMEMBRANCE, TRUTH, RECOGNITION
EAJ-PNV statement on the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Gernika and over 40 towns in the Basque Country
Thursday, 26 April 2012
Seventy-five years have passed since that sad and tragic event that focused the sights of the world on the Basque People. It was the start of the military uprising and the civil war, the denial of any rights and the resorting to the use of force.
On22 July 1936, the bombing of the civilian population began in Otxandio, a town that had no military garrison. It marked the start of a wave of destruction and death that reached Gernika on26 April 1937, leaving a trail of hate and suffering inDurango, Amorebieta, Algorta,Bilbao,Barakaldo,Durango, Eibar, Elorrio, Galadakao, Leioa, Markina, Mungia,Portugalete, Santurtzi, Sestao, Zaratamo, Zuazo and over 40 Basque municipalities.
This was the first air-raid attack in history against a defenceless civilian population and its sole aim was to destroy, terrify and demoralise people to force them to surrender. Unfortunately, these inhumane practices have spread down through the years and other peoples around the world have been the victims of these barbaric acts, attacks and pointless death.
The Basque Country is now seeking Remembrance, Truth and Recognition.
We have to assume that those events were undertaken with absolute impunity, with the death and destruction behind a veil of manipulation and lies, which sought to hide the evidence of the Fascist attack of the civilian population in such a despicably calculated, organised and indiscriminate manner.
Lehendakari José Antonio Aguirre, the Basque Premier at the time, provided a direct record of the reality in his speech to the world on28 April 1937:
“Before God and History, which will eventually judge us all, I hereby state that for three and a half hours German planes bombed the defenceless civilian population of Gernika with unprecedented viciousness. They reduce the town to ashes and machine-gunned women and children, many of whom were killed, while the rest fled in terror”.
This is the reality that no one was prepared to face with honesty and historical meaning. Even 75 years later, there has not been the due recognition of the social, personal and human suffering caused.
Today, those individuals who survived those air-raids continue to call for Remembrance, Truth and Recognition.
They are elderly and their whole lives have been marked by their memories of that fear and suffering when they were children.
There are also the individuals from a later generation that had to bear the lies and silence. People who lived in submission under a regime that enforced the humiliation of lies and oblivion.
Nowadays, 75 years later, the presence and direct participation of these people in the commemoration and remembrance events of those air-raids is a true lesson of dignity to us.
They do not seek the centre stage or benefits as they share a single objective: to ensure that those events never occur again, that nobody under any circumstance has to suffered what they themselves suffered.
They share the collective desire to make all that hate accumulated down through the years disappear and help to mark the start of a new era in a new Basque Country.
These individuals, a symbol for the Basque Country and an example for the world, are demanding Remembrance, Truth and Recognition, the only way to overcome the past and enjoy a new future of Peace and Reconciliation.
The Basque Nationalist Party shares this example, these principles and values, and thus signs this declaration of Remembrance, Truth and Recognition, the bases of the Basque Country in Peace, Reconciliation and Freedom for which we have always fought and worked.
75 years have gone by and the observation of the Lehendakari Agirre regarding the Fascist invasion has been proven to be true: “they may conquer the land, but they will never conquer the Basque soul”.
The Basque Nationalist Party is now vindicating the soul, memory and remembrance of those people who perished and suffered those first air-raids against the civilian population.
The Basque Country was the first to suffer the indiscriminate barbarism against the civilian population and is yet again the first to demand Remembrance, Truth and Recognition, so that that black period of our history that we want to overcome provides the necessary light to ensure that there is never a return to violence, intolerance and terror.
The Basque Country calls for Peace, Reconciliation and Freedom.
This is the commitment of the Basque National Party.