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Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 1940 05 (Page 3)

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Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 1940 05
CONFERENCE SETS
TASKS TO FREE
I. B. VETERANS

The Conference on April 13, called in New
York by the Committee for the Release of the
International Volunteers in French and Spanish
Prison Camps, was exceptionally well attended.
The 90 delegates represented 75 organizations
with a combined membership of more than
60,000. Trade Union participation was very
encouraging, and a large number of foreign
language groups, particularly branches of the
I.W.O., were represented.

The
desperate
plight
of
imprisoned
Internationals was graphically presented before
the Conference. Particular attention. eras
directed toward the 400 men engaged in slave
labor in the rebuilding of Belchite, the seriously
wounded and disabled in the French camp of
Gurs, and the brutal administration of the 'camp
of punishment', Vernet d'Ariege.

The importance of immediate aid was based
not only on the great suffering of these men and
the increasing threat to their lives, not only on
their proven value to the cause of democracy
and freedom and the debt owed them by all
who honor this great cause. The necessity of
exposing the role of the reactionary French
Government was also emphasized. To quote the
Main Report:

"The presence of these prisoners in the
concentration camps is a constant
embarrassment to the French Government. No
one will now believe that the present war in
Europe is a continuation of Spain's struggle
against fascism. If it were, these tested anti-
fascist fighters would be treated as heroes, not
as common criminals!"

This is well understood by those who,
through sympathy with France's "war for
democracy," wish to drag America into the
war.

"When friends of the Spanish refugees and
the International -Brigades attempted to picket
the French Consulate, it is no accident that 800
New York policemen were mobilized to
confuse the issue and to prevent our bringing
these truths to the American people. It is no
accident that the full power of the District
Attorney's office, the Dies Committee, and the
F.B.I. is being
used to prosecute and persecute the pickets
arrested. The forces that would drag America to
Europe's trenches are awake and ready for
action. These forces we resist when we defend
the Spanish refugees and the International
Brigade."

The response of the delegates was very
enthusiastic. They contributed, individually and
from their organizations, $446.50 and pledged
a total of $145.00. More than a thousand
collection lists were distributed at and
immediately after the Conference, and the
delegates pledged their whole-hearted support
of the following program:

1.
To obtain the transfer of the
Internationals in these "Camps of
Punishment" to civilian refugee centers
and the complete abolition of these camps.

2.
To make applications to friendly
countries in Latin America for admission
of the Internationals.

3.
To secure the permission of the
French Government for the men to leave
France when they are ready.

4.
To obtain the consent of the Franco
government to free all the International
prisoners.

5.
To inaugurate a financial campaign to
raise by July 15th, $60,000 which is the
minimum necessary to take care of the
basic needs of these men and to enable us
to begin their transportation and
resettlement in a friendly country.

6.
To send letters and telegrams to the
French and Spanish embassies protesting
the inhuman treatment of the Spanish
Refugees and International Brigades in
France and a just amnesty for all
Republicans Imprisoned in Spain.

The Committee reported, in addition, that
$500, contributed by the Veterans, had already
been sent to France in response to an urgent
appeal for aid to the mutilated men at Gurs.

For the future this campaign will be taken
over by the newly formed North American
Spanish Aid Committee. This Committee,
pledged to the program adopted in February by
the Inter-Continental Conference at Mexico
City and freed from the obstructionists, Reissig,
Iceman, Jay Allen, Ralph Bates & Co., will on
a national scale carry on an energetic campaign
for the Spanish Refugees and men of the
International Brigades and against French and
Franco terror.
(Continued on Page 4)
N E W S
FROM ENGLAND
One of the most noteworthy exploits of the
British Battalion was accomplished last month
when it informed Mayor Atlee that it
repudiated any association of his name and
policy with its own glorious tradition. For once,
a company of the British Battalion has really
been annihilated, and for once, too, every I.B.
member can rejoice at the news. Long live the
British Battalion (without the Major Atlee
Company):

Malcolm Dunbar has been doing articles a la
Allan Johnson. In a recent one, he compares the
Nazi blitzkrieg in Poland to the Aragon break-
through and points out that Warsaw was not
another Madrid because the Polish Army was
not politically conscious.
British at Jarama, 1937

Due to the fine work of the British comrades,
Tom Jones was freed from Franco's prison and
returned home. Every effort is now being made
to do the same for Frank Ryan. The Yanks can
help by writing to the Eire Legation in Madrid
and to the Spanish Ambassador in Washington.

Among the vets who are active in the current
campaign to raise funds for the I.B.'ers in
France are Bob Cooney, Alec Donaldson, Jack
Coward, Willie McDougall, Dan Burns and
Miles Tomalin.

The British Government has billed the vets
for fare and food spent on prisoners returned
from Spain. The vets have stated that they will
deal with the bills "at their convenience." They
praise the government for trying, but infer that
they have found it a bit too trying for some
time.

The Hungarian doctor, Johnny Kizerly, who
treated many of the British and Lincolns is now
in England.

Letters received by British vets fully confirm
the horrible treatment France is meting out to
refugees and Internationals in the prison camps
at Gurs,, Argeles, and St. Cyprien.

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