Monday, 9 November 2009

Another Remembering - Francisco Ferrer Executed

October 13, 1909, one hundred years ago!

"Let no more gods or exploiters be served. Let us learn rather to love each other."

In 1902, the first Modern School of Francisco Ferrer was opened. He admitted both males and females, both rich and poor. The school books had religion removed from them and he taught a fully secular education. Shortly afterward, forty schools were operating in Barcelona and his textbooks were adopted by eighty other schools. Ferrer regarded religion as "ancient error" and he led the people to a higher ground of education. He taught them about their natural world, about equality, about life and love.

In 1906, an anarchist threw a bomb at the king and Ferrer was held responsible and his schools were closed down. On his prison wall, Ferrer wrote,

"When their god and his exploiters cease to be adored and served, we shall live like comrades in mutual respect and affection."

Ferrer was acquitted.

Shortly after his incidence with the police and the courts, Ferrer started his schools back up and created the International League of Rational Education. What would ensue, however, was an uprising. After Spain had lost its Imperialistic possessions of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines, it took over Morocco (a North Western African region in the Sahara desert).

On July 11th, 1909, the Spanish government began drafting soldiers from its general population to help keep control of Morocco and suffice its greedy Imperialistic desires. Thousands of men and women went to the docks and rail depots to go to the war. However, the Spanish government's plans were interrupted. Women began blocking the railways and the Committee for a General Strike, led by Jose Remero and Miguel Moreno called thousands of workers to strike in the Barcelona factories. Protesters and rioters started becoming violent with their needs. In this end, the Pacifists, the Socialists, and the Atheists had revolted against a tyrannical government supported by the Roman Catholic Church. What followed was referred to as "The Tragic Week." During this time, men and women fought against oppression. In doing so, they burned down eighty churches, blew up railroads, and attacked barracks. The workers put up barricades that prevented soldiers from entering the city. To worsen matters, many of the soldiers in the Spanish army became mutinous and refused to fire upon the open crowds. One clergyman declared, "The partisans of the godless schools must be suppressed if peace is to be reestablished and Spain returned to God." Artillery and Spanish reinforcements eventually took over the city of Barcelona, killing over six hundred workers.

During the Tragic Week, Ferrer was nowhere near Barcelona. However, he was charged as being the leader of the insurrection. The court and its orders were an atrocity. When Ferrer wished to call defense witnesses to testify, the court denied them right to speak. The others who were involved in the riots were acquitted because they testified against Ferrer. The court easily found him guilty and he was sentenced to death.

On the eve of October 13, 1909, Ferrer wrote on his prison wall,

"Let no more gods or exploiters be served. Let us learn rather to love each other."

Shortly afterward, he was taken to the trenches of the Montjuich Fortress and shot by a firing squad. Pope Pius X sent a gold-handled sword engraved with his felicitations to the military prosecutor who had obtained Ferrer's death. This great man, Ferrer, had caused revolution in the minds of children, opening up their thoughts to all that the Universe had to offer them. He refused to fill their thoughts with the vile contents of Christianity, a god so profane that he asks for the execution of heretics and then promises their eternal suffering. He stood bold and firm in his convictions to the last shots that had ended his life. Ferrer will foreign reign in the hearts of Freethinkers and Humanitarians.

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