Agrawli’s Blog

March 22, 2009


Filed under: TAMAZIGHT — Sabri @ 7:19 pm

The  Moroccan  participation  in  the  Spanish  Civil  War

Summary  Report  of  an International  seminar

guerra_civil5Upon the initiative of the Center for Common Memory and the Future an international seminar on the “issue of joint memory between juridical and judiciary handling, political handling and Human Rights: the case of Moroccan participation in the Spanish Civil War ” was held in Tetouan on 26, 27, 28 February and March 1st 2009. This initiative aimed at dealing with one of the matters between Morocco and Spain in the framework of the decision taken by the Spanish judge Garzon Balthazar regarding the opening of the issue of the Spanish civil war . It is to be recalled that the Center, in the framework of the discussions underway between the Spanish and Moroccan parties who share the same objectives with the Center, began reflecting on the handling of Moroccan and Spanish issues since Al Hoceima meeting (March 2007).

After the opening session, the international seminar program was divided into three working sessions that looked into the following three aspects:
• Introduction to understanding the Spanish Civil War
• Moroccan participation in the Spanish Civil War
• Moroccan participation in the Spanish Civil War:
– Legal, judicial, and political handling
– From the standpoint of Human Rights

Three films were shown in connection with the seminar that dealt with Moroccan participation in the Spanish Civil War, in particular « Arhaj » the Poison, the Moroccan Labyrinth, and the Loosers, which was projected and discussed at the opening session at the Cinema Español. Twenty-five contributions were presented during the seminar sessions on the aforesaid subjects by Moroccan and Spanish speakers from different generations, specializations, various bodies, institutions and regions in both countries which reflects the significance of the subject matter and its vitality, as well as the interconnections in Moroccan/Spanish relations and the intention to overcome the constraints impeding the building of a common memory making it possible to build bridges toward a future that will free upcoming generations from the consequences of the past.

Considering the ideas and approaches presented in the various contributions, we suggest grouping them together as follows:
1) Concept of civil war: This is about the way of building this concept in modern and contemporary history in the framework of identity construction according to the historical continuity of society. This requires the use of a critical approach as a basis for memory, by shedding light on the marginalization of the history of minorities and overcoming « denial of the enemy », of his identity and his rights according to an outlook aiming at consecrating the viewpoint of the conqueror. Therefore, it is necessary to build a consensus-based relation position to the past, to work on a new writing of the facts and history to forge the way to the preservation of memory allowing for the process of its construction according to a participative approach which guarantees the right to memory while taking into consideration the historical horizon of social change and the future project founded on the respect of Human Rights and the consecration of relations on the basis of mutual respect, democracy and citizenship.
2) Relationship between history and memory: We must point out that there is no relationship between history and memory, however, even if the nature of the historian’s work differs from the nature of memory, both mutually feed into each other, or one to the detriment of the other, and one uses the other in various ways in the framework of attractions between oblivion and memory and their motivations. Also to be pointed out is the stress that has to be placed on the differences existing at the level the methods, or the level of the nature of history and memory (or memories and their crossovers) for the construction, reinforcement and enlargement of a joint memory in the framework of interaction between the different academic, civil, Human Rights and political actors, each one according to its own methodological and cognitive constraints while keeping in the direction of a common horizon so as to be in a position to found shared positions far from any hegemony by any one of these actors.
3) The issue of Moroccan participation: The concept of Moroccan participation was addressed with participants asking questions on the nature, circumstances and forms that participation. Some even went as far as to question the concept of participation by choosing to speak of implication, as participation implies voluntary consent and adhesion, whereas other participants felt that such participation occurred under the pressure of propaganda, manipulation and use of different forms of pressurization to tempt Moroccans through intimidation or motivation. Others put into question the concept of participation as there were infringements to one of the major pillars of voluntary action and adhesion, i.e. acceptance and acquiescence without mentioning the situation prevailing in Morocco as an occupied country. In parallel to the discussion of the concepts of participation, voluntary action and their settings, whether ideological, political or other, some presentations dealt with the situation of Moroccans having participated in the civil war either as citizens of an occupied country, as foreigners, as an army or as victims whose human and professional rights were not respected by the other parties … Indeed, Moroccans participated not only alongside the rebels led by Franco, but also on the Republican side.
4) Moroccan participation and international law: in this framework, the legality of participation was evoked not only from the standpoint of the reality of Morocco as a country under the Protectorate regime, but also from the perspective of international law in force in those days and which requires some degree of interpretation because such law was somewhat unclear. One must also resort to the international agreements in force in those times given the evolution/interconnection of subsidiary issues related to this participation and its ongoing complications. In this regard, this does not only requires building knowledge, but it also implies moving to recognition of the seriousness of the consequences of this war on both peoples in general and on the victims in particular including Moroccan victims and more especially those who were thrown into that war as fuel, without their wanting to and without their age as minors being taken into account.
5) Transitional justice approach: If there were differences between the various presentations on the difficulties to implement this approach and the possibility of using some of its aspects, understanding what happened, revealing the truth, and rendering justice to the victims by granting reparations, etc. are all issues which require a approach based on creative methods in which support to democracy and enforcement of Human Rights are the cornerstone. Indeed, questions crop up in all directions: who gave the order? Who executed it? Who benefited from it? In an effort geared to revealing the circumstances and shedding light on the historical and political situation which made the peoples of both countries live what they lived during that war, still bearing the weight of its consequences which still hangs over their future feeding into the constraints and impediments to reconciliation between the two countries in spite of the history and geography making them a link between two continents and two civilizations, not to mention the geo-strategic dimensions.

The proposals set forth by the various contributions can be summarized in three aspects:
a. Revealing what happened and building knowledge making possible an objective diagnostic of the facts imply the opening of historical archives in both countries, in particular in Spain with the required fostering of historical research without neglecting the support that must be given to the endeavors in the field of Human Rights not only through scientific research but also by establishing spaces for civil society activities and other institutions (governmental and non governmental) in Spain and Morocco as part of partnerships backing ongoing democratic construction in both counties and based on mutual respect between the two peoples.
b. Handling this issue is not limited to the Human Rights of individuals and should go well beyond and address the historical circumstances of an entire society by dealing with the issue of participation in its integrality, as well as the ramifications thereof impeding different aspects of development (human, social and cultural, etc.).
c. Moving on to development programs based on reparations as bridges leading to the construction of fertile spaces for a future based on memory (in the plural meaning of the word) that would make it possible to re-consider the stereotypes on the “other” and in particular on the “Moroccan combatant” and be based on mutual respect of the other and his culture.
d. Through this initiative, the Center would like to see this international seminar open a common workshop between the live forces in the two countries, as an experience not only in the western part of the Mediterranean, but also at the international level. The stakes of this process also reside in the efforts to be made to liberate future generations of the logic of struggle inherited from their forefathers and previous historical periods that still weigh on the future of both peoples. The Center will also be a space open to all initiatives and all actions directed toward a common future and geared to the right of future generations to a joint memory. The Center intends to publish the proceedings of the seminar as a contribution to this workshop.

written by

(Center Scientific Committee Coordinator)
Centre de Mémoire Commune et l’Avenir.

1-  At this occasion the Centre sent a letter to the judge and Spanish Prime Minister, Louis Rodriguez Zapatero so that the situation of Moroccan victims (disappeared, deceased, etc.) can be taken into account. The Center does not consider itself concerned by the decision to close the matter for reasons particular to Spain. Because of that, the Centre decided to deal with this issue and took the initiative of organizing an international seminar with support from a certain number of national and international institutions (governmental and civil).

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