Israel is doing it. Spain is doing it. Morocco, Sri Lanka and China are doing it. The Soviet Union did. And there are many more countries that can participate.
All mentioned and unnamed countries have one thing in common: they systematically oppress minorities in their country. These countries (take Spain) try against the will of certain minorities (the Basques) to force those minorities to recognize the central government as their government. I say consciously try, because it is doomed to fail.
We all hate when people impose themselves. Nobody likes difficult salesmen trying to sell you something, believers who insist on you listening to them, or, for the famous among us, journalists almost pushing a microphone in your nose. And that all makes sense. After all, you can do just fine without those people, and most likely you are not interested in them if they want to get your attention at all costs. This is also how it works with governments; in some areas they are needed. But if you feel that you don't need the government, and that same government thinks differently about it, it can be even more annoying than the salesman, the believer, and the journalist.
Especially as long as that government does not stop imposing itself on you, and it goes so far that you are even prepared to use force to keep that government away from you. At such a moment, the government should actually have a light on. And that light should say, "If those people don't want to have anything to do with us, who are we to determine that they don't have a choice?"
I'm not leaving
Unfortunately, that light does not always come on. Instead, in many cases, the government brings a different kind of light. That of weapons, that is. The idea is that people who do not want to have anything to do with the government, or as they are also called 'separatists', must be forced to listen to the government by means of violence. It still does not occur to the state that those people may rightly not want to have anything to do with the government. It should be clear that violence does not solve anything. Unfortunately, people think differently in Sri Lanka. The government army fought there against a group of separatists, the Tamil Tigers. On May 18, 2009, the government army claimed victory: the Tamils were defeated. The entire battle, which lasted for decades, had obviously cost the necessary lives on both sides. But at least the government felt it had achieved its goal: no more insurgents.
If you don't leave, then there will be ...
But shouldn't the island's government have asked itself first: if we kill activists, does that mean that their ideas disappear from society? The answer to this would of course have been 'no'. It is ridiculous to think that you can quell the desire for independence by killing its fighters. That will not make separatism disappear, in fact, you will only fuel more aversion to the government.
Because separatism is nothing more than a logical consequence of two factors: Number one is that people like to be able to decide about themselves, or that a group of people wants to be able to make decisions about their own group. Number two is the fact that some governments do not respond to this. It is not difficult to understand that these two data collide, and that the government itself is thus responsible for people's aversion to its policies of oppression.
Why groups are naturally separated
There are many different cultures and groups in this world.
They all have different habits and customs. People who share the same norms, values, traditions, language and history logically form a group. After all, they share certain qualities and live the same way.
However, as soon as you put a group next to it, or worse, above it, while those groups have nothing to do with each other, that is asking for problems. Because you cannot hope that people will live with you just because you draw a line on the map and those people happen to live within that same line. That one line on the map is simply not a binding factor for the different groups; certainly not if they don't recognize that line. And certainly not if they speak different languages or have a different historical background or different customs.
Not only is it therefore logical that the government of a country such as Spain asks for difficulties by imposing its will on minorities, it is also justifiable that, for example, the Basques stand up for themselves. A people should have the right to self-determination at all times. Just as we consider it only natural that an individual person should be allowed to determine his own life, this should also apply to groups of people. Ultimately, a group of people is a sum, even more than that, of individuals, so why should not personal human rights also apply to groups of people?
That does not mean, of course, that all methods of greater self-determination are defensible. Just as violence by the government is counterproductive, the same applies to independence fighters: by using violence you turn people against you. Nobody benefits from that. It may be understandable, but it is by no means effective.
Moreover, violence is not necessary if other methods are available. For example, the residents of the Western Sahara recently set up tent camps as a protest against Moroccan rule. Those tent camps were cleared. Regrettable. The international community should have rebelled strongly against this. Because these people did nothing but stand up for their rights.
Unfortunately, nonviolent protest in Western Sahara was therefore unsuccessful. But there are examples where peaceful protests and the exertion of pressure on politics did have an effect. For example, at the end of the Cold War, many peoples gained the right to govern themselves, when Moscow no longer made them compulsory part of the USSR.
Moreover, giving minorities more rights to their own government need not directly lead to the disintegration of a country. A process of federalization has been going on for some time in Belgium. The Dutch and French speakers are gaining control in more and more areas. This will probably lead to Belgium sooner or later being divided, officially or not. This does not necessarily have to be an unhealthy development if the separate parts of the country and sub-cultures agree.
In the end, giving certain minorities the right to self-determination is simply the best solution: the state does not have to wage war in its own country and the minorities get what they are entitled to: a life they can decide for themselves, and in their own way.