Monday, October 25

Mikel Azurmendi, one of the pioneering voices against ETA, dies | Spain

Mikel Azurmendi, right, with Aitor Aurrekoetxea, at the entrance to the Koldo Mitxelena center, in San Sebastián, in 2019.
Mikel Azurmendi, right, with Aitor Aurrekoetxea, at the entrance to the Koldo Mitxelena center, in San Sebastián, in 2019.JAVIER HERNANDEZ

The anthropologist and writer who dared to say Enough is enough to ETA, the organization of which he had been a part, Mikel Azurmendi, has died at the age of 79 at his home in Igeldo, San Sebastián, after a life in which he endured exile , the threats and even a frustrated attack against his home, on August 15, 2000.

Death came to him this Friday when he was in the garden of his village. He began to feel bad and, shortly after, his heart stopped for good. Doctors were unable to revive him. Mikel Azurmendi had planned to undergo an intervention to correct a heart disease for which he was already being treated. He has died in the company of his wife, whom he married about a year and a half ago.

“Mikel refused a few months ago to participate in an act of the Gregorio Ordoñez Forum,” recalls his friend Consuelo, sister of the PP councilor killed by the gang: “He did not know how to tell us that he did not feel strong,” he detailed this Saturday to EL COUNTRY the president of the Collective of Victims of Terrorism (Covite). “Good trip, Mikel. We love you ”, Ordóñez wrote at dawn on social networks.

Mikel Azurmendi was one of the founders and the first spokesperson for the Ermua Forum, the platform with which ETA was primed by considering it an enemy for questioning the armed struggle. He was also one of the founders of the Basta Ya citizen platform. On December 11 he would have turned 80, “although he did not pretend”, many of his friends agree.

He had a degree in Philosophy from the Sorbonne in Paris, where he was a professor during the Franco regime. Later, from 1988, he worked as a professor and obtained a doctorate from the University of the Basque Country (UPV). Despite pressure and exile (he spent a few months in the United States from August 2000), he did not abandon his literary activity. In 1998 he published The patriotic wound, an essay in which he analyzed the Basques “who considered themselves at war,” he explained at the time. But there were many more works and collaborations in newspapers and magazines. The witches of Zugarramurdi, or the successful Citizen’s Vademecum: to walk around the nation as at home, O In the Requeté de Olite. In 2001 he published the controversial essay El Ejido prints, a work on the integration of the immigrant. And in 2008 Death tango, a fiction novel in which he tried to capture the pain caused by ETA and the political situation in Euskadi.

During the academic year 2000-2001 it was Visiting Fellow at Cornell University, in New York; Hellman / Hammet Award for Human Rights in 2001, and Award for Coexistence 2001 by the Miguel Ángel Blanco Foundation. In November of that same year, he was appointed president of the Forum for the Social Integration of Immigrants, a consultative and advisory body of the Government for the social integration of immigrants and refugees.

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