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Euskal Idazleen Elkartea

Dionisio Amundarain Sarasola > Extracts

Essay (literary and non-literary)


The bird. I want it in its wholeness. Wings and all. Legs and all. Neck and all. The bird is my country. The bird is the Basque Country. That is how I interpreted and understood the song they sang to us with such feeling in the Kursaal Concert Hall, last Saturday, February 19; it sent a shiver down my spine: "Hegoak ebaki banizkion..." (If I were to cut off its wings...).

I love my land. The land where I was born. The land where I live. The land which lovingly tugs at me whenever I roam other parts of the world. I may have seen many charming, attractive lands here and there, I may find many lands here and there wonderful, but I love the land which touches and moves my heart in a special way: the land where I was born, the land which has made me what I am, the land which, despite the stabs of pain I have received from it on occasions, has been and is life-giving for me. That is how I understood the song "Oi lur..." (Oh Landā) when they sang it to us in the Kursaal and moved our hearts.

I delight in seeing my bird, my country, happy and joyful. Seeing it sing and dance. Seeing it without being on the point of death. Seeing it without the tears of having been oppressed and insulted. Seeing it with its head held high. I delight in seeing it with a joie de vivre. That is how I understood the song "Baga-Biga-Higa..." (One-Two-Three...) when they sang it to us in the Kursaal in a joyful, lively way.

Yes, I love the bird in its wholeness; without a single feather being plucked from it. I love my land in its wholeness, without it being divided into two or three... I want my country to be happy, joyful; without tears caused by anyone, apart from those which come naturally.

Yes, I am entitled to that. I have every right. As recognised over and again throughout the world. "Cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. In this sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be recognised and affirmed for the benefit of present and future generations." (Article 1 of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity). "We would like to refer to the verifiable distinguishing characteristics that set apart and give shape to the collective identity as a component of a particular country which we call the Basque Country; among the clearest are: its own original culture, its original language, its territorial establishment, its future projects, its special institutions..." (Declaration of May 2002 signed by 358 priests). "A particularly serious form of discrimination. One of the most dramatic forms of discrimination is to deny or prohibit the basic right of ethnic groups and national minorities to survive. That is exactly what happens when a desire to exterminate or exile such groups exists and when attempts are made to water down such ethnic identities to the point where they are rendered unrecognisable..." (Pope John Paul II quoted in the declaration by 358 priests). "The problem of identity, personality arisesā in individuals as well as in cultures and in ethnic groups taken in a specific way, the problem of identity is basic and is a determining factor for people, for the Church... Only participants that have a specific identity can join this dialogue without fear of losing their identity..." (Cardinal Walter Kasper, in Vida Nueva 17-04-2004). "This imperialism is anti-evangelicalā what is more, if they want us to eat and drink, sing and play, just as in the empire, `nationalism', in the correct sense of the word, has to be defended: the defence of the goodness of God's creation in different countries, traditions, cultures and religions" (Jon Sobrino; vide in Eclesalia "Carta a Monseņor Romero," 16-03-2004). May this suffice to support my right.

So, because I want my bird whole, because I want my land to be undivided, because I want my country to live happily and peacefully:

-I want to see you, Garikoitz Muxika, home. Because you are the feather that belongs to my bird, you are a plant from my land, my country cannot live in total happiness, while you are away (in prison). The same goes for you, all you Basques who are prisoners. The same goes for all of you: in Guantanamo, Israel, all of you who are behind bars all over the world. I do not mean that when a crime exists it does not have to be taken to consideration. But I do not see any guarantee that crime, when it does exist, will be properly dealt with in the system which oppresses us Basques and many peoples of the world; I do not see that what is regarded as a crime in this system is truly a crime, most of the time.

You are needed at home, all of you Basques who had to go into exile. All of you who have had to leave so many corners of the world. While you are away, I see my bird with a short beak. I see no good reason why you should leave home and go into exile.

I want to see you at home without nightmares during the day and night, you 260 accused who have been indicted by the foreign empire. I cannot bear my bird to be anxious and fearful under the sword of Damocles.

Yes, that is right. I want the bird whole, at home, free and full of joy. But, woe is me! The 2003 edition of the French dictionary "Le Robert" says: "The area on both sides of the Pyrenees mountains", neither France nor Spain respect the bird, the land nor the country; they "split it and divided it between them at one time". That is the reality. Our bird, our land, our joy kidnapped, held hostage. Not just the prisoners, not just the fugitives, not just the people prosecuted. Everything has been seized!

And the foreigner is lord and master. The foreigner is the teacher of law. The foreigner proclaims the law. The foreigner is one who offers equality: if you want to be equal, renounce your Basque character: to be equal, renounce the rights of your insubstantial beliefs; to be equal, renounce the identity that is tantamount to racism and full of empty beliefsā Your belief that you are different is basically reactionary, it prevents you from developing, it is an obstacle you have to cast off... And what is even worse: we do not believe that you -in your ignorance, in your stubbornness, in your chauvinism, in your racism, in your fanaticism, in your fundamentalism, in the cowardice you have to shoot in the back of the neck...- are capable of doing what is just and we have no alternative but to erase you from the world. The discourse of the foreigner who has been oppressing us.

But I tell you: put this country of mine in chains and gag it: it is still free. Take away its livelihood, its freedom to travel, the table on which it eats, the bed it sleeps in: it is still free. A country will become impoverished and servile; when you take away the language endowed by its fathers it will become impoverished and servile: then you will ruin the country forever" (Ignazio Buttita, Sicilian poet, in Vida Nueva 27-04-97).

But you are acting in vain. You will not deprive my bird of its language. My land will yield new plants in order to speak Euskara (the Basque language) anywhere and spread it everywhere. In this respect, you are acting in vain.

Bear with me. Those of you who want to live in this land of ours, cut the umbilical cord that binds you to Madrid, to Paris, to the system that makes us subordinate. Bind yourselves to the bird, to the land and to the country you live in. Only then will you experience true joy. The joy that comes from being the bird's feathers, from being the plants of the land, from the country that lives joyfully.

But if your umbilical cord is tough, if you lack the capacity or desire to cut it, go with the bird that will give you joy, go to the land that will give you joy, to the country that will happily welcome you. Joy for you, joy for us. Because we will see that you are happy and because we will be ridding ourselves of a transplant that has been artificially grafted onto us and which we cannot assimilate. Verily I tell you: this way you will not have to suffer the nuisance of bodyguards; this way we will not suffer remorse if any of you are harmed. Goodness for both of us, goodness for everyone.

Oh bird, oh land, oh country, I want to see you happy. I have every right. I beg you foreigner to give me that happiness: I beg you with all my heart.
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