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Letter to the British Prime Minister
Dear Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,
I write to you this letter, with a sentiment of great and deep respect, in order to clarify to you my point of view and subsequent resolution upon the past eight hundred years of Irish history and upon the past fifty years of history in Northern Ireland, pleading of you as well to have the same amount of respect and consideration for what I take is the thought of many a person in full comprehension of the past eight centuries of Irish history and in awareness of the notion of freedom and justice.
In my short eighteen years of existence I have been vividly moved by the Irish battle for freedom against British domain and have also dwelt upon such a land’s rich culture and beauty. Being myself born on St. Patrick’s Day and being also descendant of Galway’s Lynch family, emigrated to Argentina in the XIX century, I have always had, since I was a child, an inexplicable passion for the culture and history of Ireland, specially for the poets of the Celtic Revival (W.B. Yeats in particular, for whom I began to write long ago) and those dead poets of 1916. My near-obsession for British culture and arts, spanning from the likes of Beowulf up to The Libertines and Monty Python, drove me inexorably to the other side of the Irish Sea, a land filled with myths and faeries, filled with music and poetry, filled with green fields and misty mountains, but filled with darkness and shadow as well. With the course of the years my passion for Irish culture grew more, and more and as my knowledge of Irish history grew likewise in size I have rendered the figures of Ireland’s revolutionary poets and rebels close to my heart: The likes of Pádraic H. Pearse and Bobby Sands have inspired me with their clear notion of a Free and United Ireland, although myself not availing the use of violence for such purposes, and have made me conscious of my own state of freedom and that of others and that words sometimes can be stronger than ammunitions and the use of force:
“Believe that we too love freedom and desire it. To us it is more desirable than anything in the world. If you strike us down now, we shall rise again and renew the fight. You cannot conquer Ireland you cannot extinguish the Irish passion for freedom: if our deed has not been sufficient to win freedom then our children will win it with a better deed.” Pádraig H. Pearse
“They won't break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then we'll see the rising of the moon” Bobby Sands, Prison Diary, March 17th 1981.
I have seen the bloody trail of Irish history pass before my eyes and have been saddened by the violence between British and Irish. My heart was sore that a nation should use violence and war to dominate a brotherly land, and sore as well at the realization that only through a violent reaction freedom could become achievable: a realization that has brought many a death in the past one hundred years of conflict, from both sides. I have seen British administrations after British administrations denominating the IRA and the Provisional IRA and the various Republican movements as “terrorist movements”, I have seen this and wondered:
Who is the terrorist here?
Is it the British rule upon Ireland that has taken the lives and lands of thousands upon thousands of Irish men and women?
That has taken their rights and trampled upon their faith and their culture and banned their very language?
That has taught the sons and daughters of Ireland to deny their nationality and their God and their own blood and all that could make them great and noble and free?
That has sent the sons of helpless mothers to fight wars that weren’t theirs to fight?
The British rule upon Ireland that has driven with famine millions of Irish off the dear land that bore them and their fathers?
The British rule that has hung and shot down every voice and whisper of aspiring freedom?
Is that British rule upon Ireland the terrorist, or is it the IRA?
Isn’t the violence that Britain has inflicted over Ireland in the past hundreds of years the breeder and creator of this “terrorist movements”?
Isn’t the IRA a product of centuries of British violence in Irish land?
Britain, that with her might and power and its thirst for imperial domain took away what was theirs and by force submitted the people of Ireland.
Britain that with her Cromwells and her Black & Tans and her systems of education and her boards and her cruel sense of justice and her prisons and her police imposed a violent domination upon this people.
Britain that shackled and fettered.
Britain that took and gave nothing in return but the cruel lash of masters.
Britain that, in the words of Ned Kelly, “has destroyed massacred and murdered their fore-fathers by the greatest of torture as rolling them down hill in spiked barrels pulling their toe and finger nails and on the wheel. and every torture imaginable more was transported to Van Diemand's Land to pine their young lives away in starvation and misery among tyrants worse than the promised hell itself all of true blood bone and beauty, that was not murdered on their own soil, or had fled to America or other countries to bloom again another day, were doomed to Port Mcquarie Toweringabbie Norfolk island and Emu plains and in those places of tyranny and condemnation many a blooming Irishman rather than subdue to the Saxon yoke Were flogged to death and bravely died in servile chains but true to the shamrock and a credit to Paddys land”
Isn’t this Britain the breeder of violence in Ireland and in Northern Ireland?
What was the British administration expecting the Irish people to do in reaction to such cruelty?
To continue submitted and owned and ordered?
Surely the British government must have been familiarized with the concept that an action carries a reaction.
Why then did they not see their own violent action as having an inevitable violent reaction in the future?
Following this train of thought: Can you blame the IRA for violence when clearly such violence is the product of centuries of British violence? Isn’t the terrorist the one who inflicted terror and by such an infliction created a likewise terrorist response?
Like John Paul II who officially and publicly apologized to Galileo, to the victims of the Inquisition and the Crusades and everyone who suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church throughout the years, the British government should apologize to the people of Ireland who have suffered their violence for eight centuries. Like John Paul II who apologized for the Church’s silence during the Holocaust, Britain should apologize as well for allowing the deaths of those ten hunger strikers in 1981. For only by acknowledging its past mistakes will Britain be able to make decisive progress as a nation. The British government must understand that acknowledging such mistakes is not a sign of weakness but a sign of greatness and maturity, a thing which past administrations (i.e. Margaret Thatcher’s) found as something embarrassing and humiliating for which they decided to act roughly and with no humanity whatsoever, responding with violence and censorship and denial. This administration must realize its mistakes upon the dealing with the Irish situation over the past hundreds of years and apologize to the people of Ireland and those who have suffered by British domain on the isle of Ireland. This is your task and of none other.
I am very thankful for your time and hope that what I have written to you will not become just another meaningless letter piled in the mailbox. I do realize the delicacy and frailty in which this subject should be handled but someone has to point out these things regardless of its frail condition. Once again I am ever thankful for your time and hope for a resolution, and a deep reflection over these matters, to come from this letter.
Francisco Castro Videla
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