Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Attacks Against the Aranese People

Flag of Aran
Flag of Occitania
The past 31st of July, a thousand Aranese participated in this year's edition of the Race of Aran, an event that was first hold in 1993, and in which people walk together to raise consciousness on the delicate situation of the Occitan language. A number of groups leave at early morning from different spots in the Valley of Aran and other areas of Occitania, and finally converge at its capital city, Vielha, where the organizers award individuals and organizations in recognition for their work on the promotion of their language.

The Valley of Aran, in the Pyrenees, is currently part of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia in Spain, but culturally and nationally it belongs to Occitania, an ancient nation with a distinct language that 3 million people still speak today in a territory with a population of 15 million.

In this year's edition—which finished with a performance by the Occitan music band Nadau—the local flavour of the public news service of the Catalan Government was awarded for its role in the normalization of Aranese, the name of the dialect of the Occitan language they speak in the Valley of Aran.

Aran in the context of Occitania.

The event took place just after the Spanish Government announced that they will appeal to the Spanish Constitutional Court against the laws of the Catalan Parliament that protected the Occitan language, made it the preferential language of the administration in the Valley and granted its officiality in all Catalonia (meaning that the Aranese people can use their own language to communicate with the administration anywhere in Catalonia). Last year, the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled against the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, which contained similar measures for the protection of this language as well as the Catalan language.

The Spanish Constitutional Court is the highest judicial authority in the Kingdom of Spain, and is highly politicized. Recently, some of its members affirmed that the Court is beeing hijacked by the Spanish political forces. The term of many of its members ended long ago, but they are still part of the Court. The seat left by the death of another of the Court's members in 2008 remains vacant as of today.

The past 1st of August, the Conselh Generau d'Aran, the Aranese Government, unanimously approved an institutional declaration in an extraordinary session with the presence and support of the Minister of Culture of the Catalan Government, in which it refuses to accept any attacks against their natural language and their institutions, and commits to their defence.

The special session of the Aranese Government. Photo: VilaWeb

The declaration reminds that "the Occitan language, called Aranese in Aran, is the language of this territory and is official in Catalonia", according to the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia—a law approved by the Catalans in referendum and then drastically reduced in 2010 by the Constitutional Court after 4 years of deliberation.

The declaration again quotes the Catalan Statute of Autonomy:

The citizens of Catalonia and their political institutions recognize Aran as an Occitan reality endowed with a cultural, historic, geographic and linguistic identity, defended by the Aranese throughout the centuries. The Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia recognizes, protects and respects this singularity and recognizes Aran as a singular territorial entity in Catalonia, which is subject of special protection through an special judicial framework.

These actions by the Spanish Government are yet another instance of the violation of the human right of self-determination of all the peoples and nations.

Landscape of the Valley of Aran

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