Only tyrannical regimes want to destroy languages and identities

Josep Nadal, deputy of Compromís for the País Valencià (Valencian Community), has been one of the voices that most defended the rights of the Kurdish people in the Corts Valencianes.

ANF Spanish service began to publish a series of interviews with different politicians from the Spanish state.

The first interview is with Josep Nadal, deputy of Compromís for the País Valencià (Valencian Community).

Nadal has been one of the voices that most defended the rights of the Kurdish people in the Corts Valencianes.

How did you get to know about the Kurdish liberation movement?

When I was a student at the University of Valencia, I joined the international campaign for the liberation of Abdullah Öcalan in the late 90's. It was my first contact with the Kurdish question, I remember the images of the Turkish tanks entering the Kurdish cities and towns. Since then the Kurdish Liberation Movement has been a reference for me among the movements fighting for the freedom of the peoples.

I also remember at that time the song "Newroz" by Fermin Muguruza. It was a big reference for us. Thanks to it we got to know that Kurds and Valencians celebrate the arrival of spring with bonfires.

Do you know the political paradigm of the Kurdish movement, the Democratic Confederalism? What do you think of it? Do you think that this way of understanding national construction can apply in some ways to the Valencian Country?

I don’t know it much, I have read some articles and watched some documentaries. However, it seems to me to be a very interesting political initiative. In many parts of the world the struggle for national liberation collides with social realities where people are divided by languages, flags, religious and national feelings, which seem insurmountable and lead to perpetual confrontation. Proposing the construction of the nation from a local-based direct democracy can be a good instrument to overcome these divisions and to build a more just and inclusive society.

País Valencià is an area with strong identity contrasts, the example of Kurdish confederalism can help us formulate the Valencian national construction from parameters far from nationalist essentialism.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, Rojava has experienced a revolution based on communal organization, direct democracy, women's liberation and coexistence and equality between peoples. What do you think of the Rojava political project?

I think that all of us who have been interested in what has been happening in Rojava in the past years have been moved by the actions of men and women who are capable of stopping the greatest terror through a revolution. It is a lesson that they have given us all. In order to achieve military victory, they have carried out a social and feminist revolution that makes large layers of society participate in the change.

Sometimes it is difficult to understand everything that is happening in the region because of the number of opposing factions. However, I think that from the Valencia Community many people follow with expectation and sympathy what happens in Rojava.

The fact that some regions in Rojava are occupied by the Turkish regime, a member of NATO, meant this occupation has not been objected to by the European countries, including the Spanish state. What is the reason for this silence on the occupation policies of the Turkish regime?

As a deputy member of the Human Rights Commission of the Valencian Corts, I have always had the feeling that no other country puts pressure on the commission's deputies as the Turkish Government does. We saw it when Compromís presented a non law proposal not of Law, five years ago calling for the recognition of Kurdistan. The Turkish authorities called different deputies, sent us emails and made indirect pressure threatening to harm certain Valencian economic interests.

These pressures do not affect a party like Compromís but they do affect our partners in the PSOE (Socialist Party). Three years ago, a non-law proposal condemning the Armenian genocide could not be approved because the PSOE abstained and the right wing opposed it. We know that there were very strong pressures.

Compromís is promoting a non-law proposal condemning this situation. How was this idea born? How is it developed?

The proposal for an official declaration was born a year ago from the outrage provoked by the images of the invasion and the murder of the civilian population. We got in touch with the Committee of Solidarity with Kurdistan of València and they explained the situation to us.

It is a declaration of condemnation of the invasion and solidarity with the Kurdish people. We also ask the Government of Spain to demand that the UN Security Council to create a security zone for the Kurdish population. And we demand the government of Spain not to export military material in Turkey.

This is not the statement that we had originally agreed with the Committee of Solidarity in València. The day we presented it, our partners from PSOE and Podamos told us that as it was, they could not vote it and asked us to leave it for the time being. Thuse we made a new one for the three parties. Finally, and after negotiating with the two parties and with the Solidarity Committee, we have presented a joint proposal as the three parties that govern in the Valencià Country. It is not the declaration that we originally wanted, but it got the majority to be approved on October 6.

Talking about Bakur [North Kurdistan], the situation of human rights violations by the Turkish regime is constant: detention of opposition members, removal of democratic mayors and their replacement by trustees, etc. How do you assess the situation in Bakur?

We assess the situation of human rights and political repression that the Kurdish population is suffering in Bakur very negatively. The same applies to the loss of freedoms throughout Turkey. Since Erdogan's coup, the historical marginalization of the Kurds has worsened. We think that the European Union should play a more decisive role in all these situations, we cannot accept Erdogan's blackmail on the refugee issue to gain total impunity.

One of the main axes in the policy of elimination of the Kurdish people has to do with the Kurdish language and identity. The Turkish regime tries to get rid of the Kurdish language by changing the names of cities in an attempt to erase Kurdish history, for example. What is your opinion about these policies?

Only tyrannical and corrupt regimes aim at eliminating minority languages and identities. I was always struck by the prohibition of showing the colours of the Kurdish flag together. We hope that the Kurdish people will keep their own language and memory intact as a gift for the new generations.

Speaking of language, one of the demands of your political group also revolves around the respect for one's own language. How would you describe the policy of the Spanish state towards the Valencian language? Could you explain the current situation of the language?

Three hundred years ago the Bourbon monarchy eliminated by force of arms the institutions of the peoples of the old Crown of Aragon, including those of the Kingdom of Valencia, with the prohibition of the use of our language, Valencian (also called Catalan in Catalonia). With the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, the conditions of our language worsened, and many generations of parents stopped speaking it to their children.

We then had 20 years of Partido Popular government where there has been an undisguised contempt for the Valencian. However, since 2015 the Government of Botanic has tried to give our language all the support it deserves. For example, Valencian Television in Valencian had been reopened, after being closed by the PP. Surely some people will say that the process of linguistic normalization is going very slowly, but unfortunately we have very powerful enemies: The Madrid parties, the media and the state judiciary, heir, in part, of the Francoism dictatorship.

In the Valencian Country, different laws have been approved, such as the multilingualism law, which have been overthrown by judicial authorities. Broadly speaking, in what situation is the Valencian Country in relation to self-government?

We are in a weak political and economic situation. The País Valencià is one of the poorest autonomous regions in the Spanish State but its contribution to state funds is at the level of the richest regions. A situation of injustice that we have carried on for decades and that has caused the public debt and poverty to increase astronomically. We also find some political parties that speak a lot about their Valencianism but always end up being submissive to the orders of Madrid. If, in addition, to this situation we add a judiciary controlled by conservative and far-right sectors that do not hesitate to boycott any legislative change that advances socially or nationally, the panorama appears quite bleak.

However, we think that there is reason for hope: The results of a Valencianist and leftist force like Compromís in the 2015 elections, reaching 18% of the votes, shows that not all is lost. Every day there are more people, young and not so young, who feel disappointed with the traditional party system and its increasingly aggressive and irrational Spanish nationalism.

We trust our people and we think that the coming years will be witnessing a Valencian awakening to change social conditions and move towards greater quotas of sovereignty.