There were the Hawaiians, the Irish, the Puerto Ricans, the Catalans and the Ukrainians. Comrades all. But the Scottish, potential stars of the world’s first separatist conference, were a no-show.
The meeting at a conference room was the good, the bad and ugly of separatist movements. Representatives of Russian separatist movements were, however, conspicuous by their absence.
First to arrive at the President Hotel was a man in army uniform with the flag of self-proclaimed “Novorossiya” in eastern Ukraine on his sleeve. At a conference to unite separatists to discuss “self-determination and independence”, the soldier’s presence was predictable given Moscow’s involvement in Ukraine.
“We are no longer subjects in Ukraine, but mere objects,” Vladimir Sverzhin, a soldier who fought for “Novorossiya” independence until last year, told The Independent. “It’s the fault of the new government in Kiev, who in turn is the puppet of its master, the US. Every country in the world has to live in such a way that is convenient to the US.”
What united the disparate interests of the separatists was a shared enmity of America and capitalism. The delegations from Puerto Rico (a US commonwealth) and Hawaii (the 50th state) both touted their “kingdoms” as alternatives to Washington rule.
Notable by their absence were Scottish delegations. Touted by the organisers, the Anti-Globalisation Movement of Russia (ADR), as a potential star of the show, the Scottish Socialist Party were said to have been “interested”, but “never responded”. A second group from Scotland, activists the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (almost 6,000 likes on Facebook) had promised to send a video or talk over Skype to the conference. They failed to materialise.
Jose Enrique Folch, of the Catalonia delegation, appeared to miss the point. “The comrade from Catalonia hasn’t said a word about bad, bad USA,” tweeted one observer. “[He] is showing a video about Catalan history.”
Agendas differed. But uniting all at “A Dialogue of Nations: the Right to Self-Determination and the Construction of a Multipolar World” was an anti-West sentiment and a desire to challenge US hegemony.
The chairman of US African people’s party Uhuru, Omali Yeshitela, demanded that America be charged with genocide for crimes against African Americans, and called for the release of all African Americans from prisons. “The selection of Barack Obama as President of America is a manifestation of neo-colonialist power hiding behind a black face,” he said.
Other groups, including the Irish Republican Socialist Party, Sinn Fein and the Catalan Solidarity Party for Independence, slammed European “oppressors”, claiming that capitalism in the US and across the EU is responsible for the world’s ills.
“It’s not right to say it’s just America,” said Orazio Gnerre from Italy’s European Communitarianist Party. “It’s big business, the prevalence of capitalism and the privilege of business and financial interest over people and tradition that’s the problem.”
Sinn Fein’s Diarmuid Mac Dubhglais lamented the result of the Scottish referendum. “If they’d voted Yes, the result would have been the break-up of the union, which would have resulted in the British pulling out of Northern Ireland,” he said. “Britain is still occupying the six counties of Northern Ireland.”
Financed by donations from supporters and government grants, ADR has also received grants from the Russian National Charity Fund. An initiative created in 1999 by Vladimir Putin, the Fund has provided ADR with £30,000 since 2014. Its links to the fund, now under the patronage of Russia’s presidential administration, is likely to have influenced the absence of any separatist group operating inside Russia. While vocally supporting pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine, the Kremlin has zero tolerance to separatism within its borders, particularly in Siberia and Chechnya.
Rafis Kashapova, chairman of the All-Tatar Public Centre, campaigning for “Tatarstan”, was sentenced to three years in prison for criticising Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the Crimea.
Separatists - Global groups
Puerto Rico: the National Sovereign State of Borinken wants independence from the US, and for the US to take over the $73bn debt which Puerto Rico owes to the US.
Hawaii: the Independent and Sovereign Nation State of Hawaii is calling for a complete break from the US and its own government.
Ireland: the Irish Republican Socialist Party wants a socialist country cut off from Britain, the EU and IMF.
Ireland: the Republican party Sinn Fein calls for the withdrawal of the UK from Ireland’s internal affairs.
Western Sahara region: Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Polisario Front, calls for Moroccan occupiers to leave the Western Sahara region and to allow the region to create its own government.
USA: the Uhuru movement – the African People’s Socialist Party – calls for a revolution against the current American leadership, the recognition of the genocide against Africans and to fight for liberation of Africans worldwide.
Spain: the Catalan Solidarity for Independence wants financial and political independence from Spain and the creation of the new country of Catalonia.
Italy: European Communitarianist Party calls for Europe to regain the political power lost to capitalism.Reuse content