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‘Stuart Christie, comrade, friend’ by Octavio Alberola

Octavio Alberola, who was in charge of Defensa Interior and was a close friend of Stuart’s has left us this farewell message to his friend.

Originally published by Rojo y Negro. Translated by Kate Sharpley Library.

Stuart Christie, comrade and friend

The news of Stuart Christie’s death arrived by phone halfway through yesterday afternoon from comrade René after he asked if I had heard the bad news and after I quizzed him brusquely: Who’s dead? I could tell from his tone of voice that it must have been somebody close who had passed away.

René’s answer stopped me in my tracks, because even though Stuart had told me a week before that the cancer had left him still hoarse and that the findings of his medical tests were none too encouraging, it never at any moment occurred to me that he would be taken so quickly. I am surrounded by several male and female comrades – more or less of my own age – who are in none too rude health and at my age (due to turn 93 shortly) the thought that one’s days are numbered is just “normal”.

But in Stuart’s case, how could this be when he was eighteen years my junior? Besides, we had both been working on joint projects and both had been determined to plough ahead with our battles with the world of authority and exploitation.

To me, his death represents not just the loss of a comrade and friend but an end to long years collaborating on joint actions and initiatives designed to expose the injustices of the world in which we live and the fight for a fairer, freer world. A world that is possible for all of us who have not given up on wishing and trying to work towards a consistent practice of active, internationalist revolutionary solidarity.

We have known many years of brotherly relations ever since our first meeting back in August 1964 and up until 2020, without interruption. Half a century of our lives in tandem, one way or another, working on behalf of a common cause, heedless of borders. That struggle, though centred on the Spanish people’s political and social vagaries, initially under the Franco dictatorship and later under this phoney democracy spawned by the Transition/Transaction, has at all times carried the imprint of an internationalist revolutionary outlook.

The evidence of that, in Stuart’s case, was the time he spent behind bars in Spain and England, and in the case of Brenda his partner, in Germany and, in the cases of Ariane and myself, in Belgium and France. Experiences that bear witness to struggles that knew no borders as we knew that a characteristic of freedom is that it is the right of every man and woman.

So how could I not feel impelled to remember it now that our fraternization with Stuart has ended with his death? As well as with the death just a few days ago of the German comrade Doris Ensinger, the partner of Luis Andrés Edo, with whom Stuart shared some of his prison experiences and with whom he rubbed shoulders in their struggles; obviously, speaking for myself, the loss of Doris in a way represented the final ending of my fraternization-in-struggle with Luis. A finale that started some years back with Luis’s own death.

The fact is that in the case of Doris’s death too I was stopped in my tracks, startled by the news of her demise communicated to me by Manel, as barely a week earlier she had sent Tomás and me an email to let us know that she had been abruptly recalled to the hospital and undergone a transplant operation … But was now back home and feeling well …

Meaning that yet again I am brought face to face with the tenuousness of our existence and the need to preserve the memory of what we strove to be and do, to the very death.

Perpignan, 17 August 2020

Octavio Alberola

Octavio Alberola (left) and Stuart Christie (right) in Venice (1984)


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