In the last ten months, the situation of Basque political prisoners has only got worse:
• The policy of dispersal has increased; today there are political prisoners in jails where there had never been any.
• In addition to the age-old lack of healthcare, prisoners with serious diseases have not been released.
• 160 prisoners should have been released, according to the law, after having served two thirds, three quarters or their entire sentence. Using new instruments (the Parot Doctrine of the Spanish Supreme Court, creating new charges, new sentence lengths, new Courts and laws… in both the French and the Spanish state) they are implementing de facto life imprisonment.
• Death has come to the Prisoners' Collective, taking Igor Angulo and Roberto Saiz.
• Overall, the rights violations this Forum has denounced from the beginning continue; violation of the right to communicate, to study, to be a parent, to live and communicate in Basque, to an effective legal defence…
The alarm bells are ringing. They are ringing because of the objective situation of the Prisoners' Collective. And they are ringing because of what that situation means in humanitarian and political terms: hypocrisy and blackmail. Many political actors and institutions keep saying that peace has no political price, but at the same time they are insensitive to the humanitarian "toll" exacted inside the prisons every minute, which is exacted precisely as political blackmail. Is this not terrible hypocrisy? Is it not hypocrisy when those who rightly denounce the Guantánamo camp turn their heads from the 80 guantánamos in the south of Europe where Basque political prisoners are held?
This forum wishes to draw attention to the situation of prisoner Iñaki de Juana, on hunger strike since August 7. We believe that, through this person, the Spanish Government wants to send out two very clear messages to the Prisoners' Collective and to the whole of Basque Society:
1) that through the State Prosecution, it is possible to charge people just for being what they are and not for their deeds, because charges can be artificially created; and
2) that the prisoners, or many of them at any rate, must lose all hope of recovering their freedom.
We believe this situation must be understood as an alarm call to the conscience of society; it must spur us on to increase social mobilisation for prisoners' rights. The organisations in this Forum wish to restate their commitment to keep informing and to favour a dynamic of mobilisation until these inhumane policies are deactivated. It is also our responsibility to see that our society, in the future, will not be anesthetised, impassive in the face of the suffering of its fellow citizens.
Together with the part of civil society we represent, we believe that a commitment by the Basque administrations, institutions and political parties would be a great aid for these demands. The systematic violation of the most basic rights of 600 Basques should be on their political agenda, an agenda which should always include the defence of their own citizens among its priorities.
• For the release of seriously ill prisoners.
• For the release of those who have served their sentences.
• For repatriation, in full possession of their rights.
The Ibaeta Forum
Repatriate Basque prisoners, acknowledge their rights!
Bilbao, September 26, 2006
IBAETA FORUM's political parties, trade unions and social organizations: ELA, LAB, ESK, STEE-EILAS, Hiru, EHNE, ELB, AEK, Herria 2000 Eliza, Bai Euskal Herriari, Torre de Babel, Hegoaren Sarea, Segi, Duina, Etxerat, Askatasuna, Bilgune Feminista, EHGAM, Torturaren Aurkako Taldea, Eguzki, Gurasoak, Askapena, Behatokia, Ikasle Abertzaleak, ESAIT, Euskal Herrian Euskaraz, Iratzarri, Komite Internazionalistak, AC!, Elkartzen, EHBE, Hemen eta Munduan, IPES, Anai Artea, Lapurtarren Biltzarra, Demoak, Euskal Herria Zuzenean Jaialdia, Herriarekin Apaiz Taldea, Pilotarien Kolektiboa.