Posts Tagged ‘Alex Maskey’
Alex Maskey, centre L, Inaki Zabaleta, centre R, Bill Bowring, R
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Irish republicans will meet Kurdish and Basque separatists at a summit designed to encourage armed movements to adopt political dialogue and put an end to two conflicts that have cost thousands of lives.
The two-day meeting in Venice, which starts on Friday, will bring together activists from Sinn Féin, Sortu – successor to Herri Batasuna, Eta’s former banned political wing – and the Kurdish BDP (Peace and Democracy party).
In decades gone by the IRA, Eta, Corsican nationalist and other armed groups closely co-ordinated bomb-making technologies and military expertise. But now activists say they are comparing notes on negotiation tactics and dialogue with the state.
Despite attacks by dissident republicans, the success of the Irish peace process has established a template that many armed groups are eager to adapt to their “national struggles”.
The meeting comes barely a month after Eta, the paramilitary wing of the Basque separatist movement, announced a “permanent ceasefire” ending more than 50 years of fighting – a declaration as yet unrecognised by the Spanish government.
In Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) extended its temporary ceasefire until the summer’s general election amid rumours of behind-the-scenes contacts and allegations that “show trials” of Kurdish civic leaders are undermining hopes of reconciliation.
One prominent participant is Alex Maskey, a member of the Northern Ireland assembly who was interned as an IRA suspect during the Troubles and later served as the first Sinn Féin lord mayor of Belfast. He has travelled widely to promote Belfast’s peace process; in 2008 he accompanied Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness to Iraq.
Maskey stopped off in the Basque country on the way to Venice to advise the nationalist movement on how it might engage in a dialogue with the Spanish government and to attend the launch of Sortu on Wednesday, at which the new party emphasised its rejection of violence and unveiled plans to field candidates at the next election. Maskey said: “Nobody will ever agree on the past, but you can agree on the future.”
As the article makes clear, one of the problems trying to have a discussion like this is that governments in power have many of these groups on terrorist lists – so, they can’t legally travel or talk.