31 December 2007

Basque political prisoner mother-in-law killed by dispersal policy.

Basque political prisoner Unai Gonzalez relatives had a terrible road accident on their way to the Spanish jail of Teruel at hundreds of miles from the Basque Country. As a result the prisoner's parents, wife and mother-in-law were very badly injured. On Christmas Day the worst news came up: Natividad Junko died as a consequence of the injuries.

Thousands of people took to the streets in towns and cities all around the Basque Country to denounce her death. The criminal dispersal policy designed by the Spanish and French governments has already caused 17 deaths among Basque prisoners relatives. 700 Basque political prisoners are scattered in more than 100 jails around France and Spain. The Basque people have tirelessly campaigned for the repatriation of the prisoners for years but to no avail.

SPANISH INQUISITION: TORTURE Statement given by Gorka Lupianez.

Gorka Lupiañez is a Basque young who was arrested under incommunicado for the Guardia Civil. After 5 days in the police station, he was sent to prison under incommunicado detention for another 8 days. After 13 days, the family and lawyer could visit him... here it is his torture statement. The Spanish democracy.
Statement given by GORKA LUPIAÑEZ MINTEGI.

At Soto del Real prison, on 19.12.07

Completed with information from the interview held, in the same prison, on 17.02.07

- I was arrested on December 6 at about 18.00 or 18.30. I was walking on the road, close to Berriz, and two Guardia Civil Nissan Patrol vehicles stopped. They asked me for my ID and, after checking it for about an hour, and after checking the contents of the bag I was carrying, they arrested me.

- They flung me on the ground, they pulled my trousers off, leaving on the leggings I was wearing underneath. They tied my hands behind my back. They kicked me, many times. One kept telling the others to release me, so that I could attempt to run away and they could get a two-to-one score, referring to the events at Capbreton. In the end, they put me in the Nissan Patrol, they put my face stuck up against the window and put their Cetme machine gun to my other temple. They drove me, according to what they said, to La Salve barracks, in Bilbao. They forbade me to open my eyes.

- In La Salve they ran me off the vehicle and into a room. They put a hood over my head, down to my top lip, more or less, and I was able to see a little and hear the voices of the people there. There were four people, two in plain clothes and two in uniform. They beat me up. They hit me in the testicles, a lot. They began asking questions about lots of things, wanting me to give names. Amidst the constant shouting and blows, one of them cocked a gun and put it to my head. They took me to another room and told me that I was being held incommunicado.

- They ran me out of the room and into a car. After about three hours we left for Madrid. They said it. They said that there, in Madrid, I would really find out what was what. There were two of them in the front and one either side of me in the car. The one on my left kept screaming at me and hitting me with the palm of his hand. The one on my right put a plastic bag over my head. Every so often, he would close it putting his hands round my neck and causing me to suffocate.

- They stopped the car at one of tolls, because one of them, who had been celebrating Spanish Constitution Day, had been drinking and was drunk and he needed to urinate. That Guardia Civil told me that nobody knew I had been arrested and that he could easily shoot me. He said that their only remit was to torture and interrogate, that they had four-month tours of duty and that was why he had to be in the Basque Country, although he did not like it. The blows and the bag over my head continued all the way to Madrid. When we arrived, they said we were in the General Directorate or something like that.

- As soon as they took me into the building, they took me to a room, they stripped me naked and they put a blindfold over my eyes, which was kept on until I was taken to the court. They ordered me to do stand-ups. They pricked me three times in the neck, on my spine, and between my shoulder blades, or slightly further up. The third jab caused a very intense pain to go right down my spine. I told the woman who said she was the Forensic Doctor about this and she said I had some red dots in that area. I don't know what she wrote in her reports. They also touched me with something that felt like paper. They said all that was in order to calculate how to use the electrodes on me.

- Going on what the Forensic Doctor told me about the time when she first visited me, I think I can say she visited me every day. The first time she said it was one o'clock on Friday. By then I thought I had already been under arrest for days.

- In one day and a half they had made me do thousands of stand-ups. At the same time they would hit me on the sides and top of my head, with an object that could be a phone directory or a truncheon made out of rubber. When they hit me with that "phone directory", I saw sort of lights. They put a bag over my head and stuck something like tobacco smoke into it. They would close the bag to cause me to suffocate.

- Interrogation sessions were constant. I hardly spent any time in the cell during the time I was in there, except for a few hours on the last day. They constantly asked questions. The interrogators would get tired and, every so often, maybe every hour, they were substituted by others. I could tell them apart by their voices. They said that they changed round every hour. Normally there were four of them in each shift, going by the voices.

- There were times when I would answer their questions with incoherent stuff, and I couldn't reason or finish my sentences. I think it was because of the lack of air. When I was really going off my head, they would let me rest a little.

- They would put a folded blanket over my body and punch me through that.

- After what I think was one day and a half since my arrest, they began to do the bath torture to me in addition to the things they had already been doing. They tied me to a foam mattress and they put my head inside freezing water.

- Then they began to do what they called "the aquapark". They said the Israelis had taught them this. The "aquapark" was this: they lay me on a mattress, they held my feet, arms and head and poured water in my mouth and nose with a hose. When I couldn't resist any more, I had to try to breathe. At that point, they threw a bucket of water onto my face, and I would drown. At some point when they were doing this to me I must have scratched someone as I resisted. From that point on they taped my feet and they put some kind of protection on my wrists and taped them tight too.

- I was naked; they would make me hold my arms out to my sides. Then they would throw buckets of very cold water over me. Since I was shivering, they said I was "the nervous angel".

- More or less halfway through the third day, in between the "aquapark" and the "nervous angel", they made me go on all fours and tried to put a stick up my arse. Since they didn't manage to do it, they lat me on the floor, face up, they lifted my legs and then put the stick up my arse.

- At one point they tied me to a mattress, they put a wire round my left toe, and another one round my right hand, held with tape. I could hear the sound of electric current, but I didn't feel anything.

- The Doctor came to see me every day, but when she asked about how I felt and how I was being treated, I said nothing. I was afraid of what might happen. I told her I would tell her at the Audiencia Nacional. She told me to get some sleep, but I told her they didn't let me sleep. When I was going to be taken to the doctor, they would dress me in leggings and a T-shirt. They would take me to the door of a room, remove the blindfold and look into my eyes, apparently because I'd spent a long time with my eyes covered. When I came out of the room, they put the blindfold back on and strip me. They asked what I'd told the doctor as they beat me with a truncheon.

- During the days I was under arrest, they did more than 50 sessions with the bag per day. I did upwards of 10,000 stand-ups. They did the bath torture to me twice. They did the torture with the water hose many times. The simulation of electric shocks was done twice. Countless blows, with and without the truncheon.

- Since I was refusing to eat, at one point they forced a sobado sponge cake into my mouth. They poured cocoa on the floor and made me lick it.

- They pulled my hair a lot, the hair on my head and my pubic hair. They pulled out a lot of hair on the left side of my head.

- Interrogation was permanent and the shouting constant. They said they would go against my father. They said my mother had died of a heart attack. They said my brother and his wife were under arrest. They also said they had raped my nephew –the son of my brother and his wife- with a stick.

- I made three statements to the Guardia Civil. They were all prepared beforehand. They said not to worry, if I forgot anything, the officer taking the statement would remind me about it. And he did so at every statement. He told me what I was forgetting, the bits I had not said from what we had rehearsed. They told me I would have a lawyer, but I was not allowed to see him. I don't know if there was a lawyer present during the statements. I think I made the statements on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. It was night every time, and they said what time it was at the beginning.

- When the third statement was over, they took me to the cell and they told me they were going to let me rest. Shortly after, less than fifteen minutes later, they took me again, to a room where there was someone who had not taken part in the previous interrogation sessions. I could tell from his voice. He told me that he had a role. His role was to get some information out of me, something I had not previously said. He started slapping me on the face, on both sides, and he caused many cuts on the inside of my mouth. He tied my testicles and penis with a string and began to pull. He also pulled with his hand. At one point I started bleeding from the penis.

- I told the Forensic Doctor about this and she made a note. I told her my testicles had gone purple, bruised, and she saw this. All this was shortly before going to the Audiencia. The officer in charge of the statements told me that I was to tell the judge the same things as I had said in the police statements; otherwise I would really get it. They cleaned me up, especially my head, and they clothed me, to go in front of the judge.

- When I arrived at the Audiencia Nacional they gave me a court-appointed lawyer. I refused to make a statement to the judge and I told him how I had been mistreated.

- When they took me to the prison, I told the prison doctor that I had injuries inside my mouth. He said I was fine. I asked how he could say that without even having a look. He replied I was fine and he was not going to have a look at anything. I don't know what he has put in his report, but he didn't check me at all.


Notes.- While Gorka Lupiañez was under incommunicado detention, on December 12, a request was made to the Court for blood and urine samples to be taken from him and tested within 24 hours. Since the proceedings are secret, at this point in time we do not know whether the request was acted upon or not. Gorka has stated that none of these tests were carried out.
He was held incommunicado in the prison until Friday, December 14.
He intends to file a complaint about these events to the court.

MORE INFO: See: Spain: Effective impunity of police officers in cases of torture and other ill-treatment CASES (AI Index: EUR 41/000/2007) http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engeur4100x2007
Spain: Adding insult to injury: The effective impunity of police officers in cases of torture and other ill-treatment, (AI Index: EUR 41/006/2007) http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engeur410062007

19 December 2007


Basque Info News 10th-17th December


ETA admits responsibility for five attacks including the killing in France.ETA denounces the wild repression strategy started by the Spanish government which brought down the negotiation process last May.

Repressive measures against the pro-independence movement have reached serious levels. We will be looking back at this year’s facts and figures around repression.

Young Gorka Lupianez has denounced being tortured in the hans of the Spanish police.

- ETA warned that the Spanish authorities are trying to reopen the dirty war against Basques and remembered that the current Spanish Home minister was also involved in a dirty war campaign before in the 80’s.
ETA called upon the French and Spanish states to end strategies of denial of rights for the Basque Country. It also calle on the two States to stop deepening the repression campaign.

ETA denounced the role of the media as a net which constantly hides the roots of the political and armed conflict.

According to a statement sent to the pro independence newspaper Gara, the armed group vowed to act against "the forces and repressive apparatus of the Spanish state, wherever it may be."

ETA admitted responsibility for five attacks, including the killing of two undercover Spanish policemen in France earlier this month.

In a statement, ETA claimed "the execution" of the two officers on Dec. 1 in the southwestern French town of Capbreton, describing it as an "armed confrontation."
Raul Centeno and Fernando Trapero, working undercover in conjunction with French police, were gunned down by an ETA unit in broad daylight. Two allegad members of ETA have since been arrested.

Another extract of the statement, published on the Web site of Basque newspaper Gara on Friday, reminded that the armed group would "strike back against" the constant pressure against Basque militants.

In the latest attack an ETA bomb destroyed the Spanish Court buildings of Sestao, near Bilbao, last Saturday night.

The repressive measures against the pro-independence movement have hugely increased in the last 3 months.

As the Spanish government predicted after the end of the political negotiations, in the last 3 months there have been 165 arrests, 101 Basques have been imprisoned. Police raids have become a daily occurrence as well as claims of tortures from the police when in detention.

September started with news about the arrests of 4 Basque citizens in the French town of Cahors. They were accused of being members of ETA and it ends with the arrest of Gorka Lupianez who has been tortured and imprisoned last 12th December. The arrest of the whole of the national executive of Batasuna as well as of the Basque citizens accused in the 18/98 macro trial have been significant.
Demonstrations have been banned on a regular basis and police raids, check points arrests have become a regular occurrence.

The collective of Basque political prisoners has reached the number of 692 political prisoners. And 25 people have denounced being tortured while arrested by the Spanish police since September.

The prison conditions have significantly worsened as well. The Spanish government is refusing to release any Basque prisoner suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses. Currently there are 12 of them. The dispersal policy is also being further implemented.

Prisoners who have completed their full prison sentence also are being kept in jail as the Spanish government is refusing to release them.
Last week the Spanish general prosecutor also said that more than 100 Basque political refugees will be soon the target. These refugees have been living on the run in Mexico, Venezuela, Uruguay, Cuba and Africa for many years now.

One of them, 71-year-old Ramon Sagarzazu, was arrested last week and released after a couple of days as his case was too old to be reopened.

In front of this bleak situation, the anti repression group Askatasuna has called on Basque citizens to mobilize.
It has accused the Spanish government of submitting the Basque country to a new repressive era to destroy the pro independence movement.

And in further repressive measures…

-144 pro-independence pubs and societies were closed down by the Spanish government a year and a half ago. Hundreds of people confronted the police but couldn’t prevent the closure of these premises. That was another of the numerous attacks suffered by the pro-independence movement while ETA held a ceasefire. Last week a high Spanish tribunal stated that these closings may have not been right according to the law. The defence lawyers have denounced once again the obstacles they have to face to do their job.

-State repression in the Basque Country has many different faces. 10 years ago a campaign called “Freedom for the Basque Country” filled the streets with hundreds of weekly picket lines. 10 years on there are hundreds of Basques are suffering the repression against that campaign. Many of them got fines for exercising their right to protest peacefully as the pickets used to be banned. For 10 years they have been paying up to 300 euro a month. Last week a new community platform was formed in Laudio, near Bilbao to campaign against this white repression and to claim the streets as a space of freedom of speech and reunion.

- Thousands of Basque citizens respond to the attack against the pro independence movement.

Last Thursday thousands of people took part in a walk out, to denounce the repression against the Basque pro independence movement.

Hundreds of mobilisations and a 60 minute walk out was the response of the Basque society against repression. It was originally called to protest against the arrests of the 18/98 macro trial, but it became an exemplar protest against repression in the Basque Country.


Young Gorka Lupianez, has been sent to jail. The judge has also ordered to keep Gorka in prison incommunicado.
The Basque prisoner has denounced being tortured while in the hands of the Spanish police.
Gorka was arrested nearly 2 weeks ago and was kept incommunicado for 5 days during which he was tortured. The judge has also ordered to keep his file secret.
He is accused of being a member of the armed organization ETA, of possession of arms and of faking ID.

Haimar Hidalgo was also arrested of the Basque Spanish police, last Sunday. He has been imprisoned for 7 and a half year. The police also went to arrest Gaizka Ganan near Bilbao but was not at his home.

The Sheffield three will be sent back to Spain. That’s what the High court in London has decided.
Inigo Albisu, Zigor Ruiz and Ana Lopez were arrested in Sheffield last April following a euro warrant presented by the Spanish authorities. They are accused of being members of ETA.
The defence will have now 2 weeks to appeal the decision and try to overturn the decision in the House of Lords.


- The still legal pro-independence politicl party ANV, Basque Nationalist Action , has made clear at a few press conferences that they intend to contest the general election next March. Although Spanish authorities are trying to ban this party, ANV has made clear that they intend to fight the election with the proposal for a democratic framework for the Basque Country.

Among those gathered at the press coferences were members community groups, grassroots activists and local councillors. All of them leftists and nationalists. They explained why all of them came together and organised as the Basque National Action: “The independence option is the best way to protect our language, identity and culture because, we want to build our own model on the left, because independence is the future and it’ll bring freedom.”

-ANV, Basque Nationalist Action denounced the last fascist attack which took place last week in the southern Basque town of Tutera. The local Basque medium school was attacked once again. There have been many attacks like this in the last months. A protest will take place next Saturday.

-15,000 people attended a national rally in the middland town of Arrasate to protest against the construction of a High Speed Train (HST) railway in the Basque Country. They had to overcome many Spanish Guardia Civil police checkpoints to reach the town. For many years local groups have campaigned against this project. But in the last year protests have increased as the main works are about to start. This High Speed Train track is one of the main controversies going on in the Basque Country at the moment. Groups against it have denounced it as a monster of great social, economic and environmental impact as well as a lack of transparency and respect from authorities towards the will of Basque citizens.

6 people were arrested during the week in a protest. Many groups have been organised locally and attacks against the machinery used to build the railway have spread around the Basque Country.

-Thousands of people took part in a march in favour of autonomy in Baiona/Bayonne, northern Basque Country. Under heavy police surveillance the march took place peacefully.

Thousands of people took part in a march in favour of autonomy in Baiona/Bayonne, northern Basque Country. Under heavy police surveillance the march took place peacefully.

Under the French authority the northern part is not acknowledged as being the Basque country. In order to do so, people from various political believes, trade unionists, and other public people have come together to launch a campaign in favour of a Basque autonomy for the north.

This campaign and the autonomy in particular are not seen as a means in itself but as a tool towards the right to self determination.

-More than 150 delegates attended Ikasle Abertzaleak, the 5th Congreso of the Union of Basque nationalist students. Ikasle Abertzaleak is the largest students organization in the Basque Country and has been campaigning for students’ rights in schools and universities for almost 20 years. They defined new strategies to achieve a Basque National Education System and highlighted the importance for students to become a revolutionary subject to stop the capitalist education system promoted by the Bologna process of the EU.

-The second National Meeting of Victims of torture took place at the weekend in Lekunberri. 200 people took part in the conference. The conference aimed to do a yearly evaluation as well as looking at the political work that needs done. It also aimed at raising the profile of people who have been tortured.
During the conference speakers highlighted that torture is systematic for Basque citizens.

-One bank, a French police translator’s car and the pro-Spanish Labour Party’s offices in Elgoibar were attacked over the last few days.

12 December 2007

Protests spread as political activists are imprisoned

News 4th-11th of December.

The Spanish flag waving at the Lizartza's town hall was burnt in the Spanish Constituttion Day.

-33 defendants on the 18/98 macro trial are imprisoned.

-The French authorities have arrested 2 alleged ETA members who are accused of murdering the 2 Spanish police officers.

-15 young people from Donostia San Sebastian are arrested.

33 of the people arrested 10 days ago have been imprisoned. They are all political, social and cultural activists. 6 of them have been released on bail. All of the arrested are well known pro-independence activists who work in different areas and have been tried in the largest case ever in Spain.

The Spanish National Court decided to convict 46 of the defendants. The tribunal will not formally read out the verdicts until later on this month. A court official said that the defendants may try to flee Spain, that is why it has ordered the Spanish police to detain them before the convictions are announced.

The case stemmed from an eight-year inquiry started by the judge Baltasar Garzon. He has been leading the attacks against the pro-independence movement for years. Garzon alleged that ETA was not just made up of armed units but also had support through political, financial and media organizations. The defendants are accused of belonging to these groups, some of which have been outlawed.

25,000 people took to the streets in Bilbao in the aftermath of the police operation to show support to the detainees. Many other protests took place during the following days. Among them was the one organised by the largest Basque trade union ELA.

Last week while waiting at his home another convicted person was arrested. Just few minutes before he was detained Jose Luis Elkoro the 72 year-old historical pro-independence leader told a radio station: “We are being convicted under false charges and with disproportionate sentences. We fight through political means for noble cause, for the freedom of the Basque people.”

150 people demonstrated in Milan, Italy against these imprisonments and at the end of the rally the Spanish consulate was attacked with eggs and paint.

A 1 hour strike has also been called by the left wing trade union LAB to protest against these events. The strike will take place on Thursday.

-Last Tuesday 15 young people from Donostia / San Sebastian were arrested.

Since November 7th, the police had an arrest warrant against these young people. They therefore presented themselves in court in Madrid. They were arrested by the police at the entrance of the Spanish National Court.

8 of them have been put in jail. 6 others have been released on bail. Each of them had to pay 6,000 euro bail and they will have to present themselves at the local tribunal on a fortnightly basis and are not allowed to leave the Spanish state.

These arrests come a month after a huge police operation against the youth movement Segi. On October 30th 7 young people were arrested. They were kept incommunicado for over 5 days and were released. They denounced being tortured by the Spanish police while incommunicado.

All of the arrested are being accused of being members of an armed group as they are all involved in the youth organisation Segi.

A total of 26 young people have been arrested within a month. Half of them have been imprisoned.

Many protests have been taking place to denounce these arrests and to highlight the need to continue working in favour of independence.


-French police arrested two armed people in connection with the two Spanish policemen shot dead two weekends ago in the south of France.

A manhunt against the 2 attackers had been deployed after Saturday's shooting. 1,500 officers took part in the search.

On Wednesday, two people armed with handguns were arrested. The French authorities said that the pair looked like the two suspects sought in ETA’s killing. They were named as Asier Bengoa and Saioa Sanchez.

Both had been on the run since last year. Houses were searched in the Basque Country after the arrests. Spanish authorities quickly tried to link them with the shootings but the French police are still cautious about it.

The 3 Basques held in London will have their extradition result after Christmas.

Iñigo Albisu, Zigor Ruiz y Ana López Monge were arrested in Sheffield last may at the request of the Spanish police. They are accused of being members of ETA.

Spain has requested for the three Basques to be extradited. The case was heard last Thursday and the judge will give his verdict in the new year. They will have to assess the risk of torture the three arrested could be subjected to when being extradited.

About 40 people protested in front of the court in London in solidarity with the Basques. They travelled from the Basque Country to London to support the Sheffield Three.

A few days after the imprisonment of the 33 people involved in the 18/98 show trial, a new political trial is about to be open.

Udalbiltza the organization which aims to build Basque national institutions is about to be tried.

22 councilors will be tried in this case and although the start date for the trial has not been set, it is expected to start in the new year.
The elected representatives involved in this case, said that they are accused of carrying out legitimate work. The spokesperson for the case said that Udalbiltza is a democratic institution.
Udalbiltza has called on people to protest against this political trial.

-Spanish authorities prevented Francesco Cossiga, former Italian president of visiting the Basque pro-independence leader Arnaldo Otegi. Otegi has been in prison since last June. This imprisonment has been seen as an attack on the pro-independence movement for their firm position in the failed negotiation process with the Spanish state.

Former Italian president Cossiga said: “I don’t have any hopes with Spaniards but I do have hopes with Basques. If I could I’d said to my friend Otegi: Stay united and continue forward.”

When asked about positions held by governments and political parties during a peace process, Cossiga compared the conflict in Ireland and the Basque Country.
He said that he believes that in Britain there is a culture of democracy which doesn’t exist in Spain.

-We continue in Italy where two members of the pro-independence movement met senators and congress members to report on the last political developments in the Basque Country. They discussed about the imprisonment of the leadership of the pro-independence movement as well as the latest arrests of people accused in the 18/98 macro case.

The pro-independence movement representatives highlighted the need for the European Union to support a democratic solution to the conflict in the Basque Country which would be based on the right to self-determination.

-Spain and France have once again joint efforts against Basques.

Madrid and Paris have agreed to strengthen their cooperation against ETA.

The two presidents, José Luis Zapatero and Nicholas Sarkozy met in Lisbon on Saturday to discuss their cooperation around “anti terrorism”.

They have both agreed to reinforce their resources for investigating against ETA.

Although the French president treats the Basque conflict as a Spanish problem, he has agreed to support the Spanish government as he sees ETA as the enemy of democracy.

ETA members have traditionally been on the run in southern France and the north of the Basque Country. Spain and France already cooperate in fighting against ETA. But the Spanish president Zapatero said that they will now enhance this work by creating a joint police unit that will specifically focus on investigating ETA with the aim to prevent attacks. Zapatero explained that this “ is a qualitative step that will certainly bear fruit.”

The French Government has extradited two Basques. Asier Tapia and Gorka Urberuaga were arrested last month by the French Police following a European warrant issued by the Spanish court.

Asier Tapia will be judged as part of the show trial against the Basque youth movement, Jarrai-Haika-Segi. The prosecution has requested 100 years against him for taking part in a press conference. Urberuaga is being accused of doing graffiti’s.

-The still legal pro-independence party ANV, Basque Nationalist Action, called upon political parties and the Basque society to stop the attacks against the party.

In the last couple of weeks the pressure to ban the ANV party has increased. This historical pro-independence party was created more than 75 years ago and fought against Franco in the 1936 war.

They have asked other Basque political parties about their position and commitment to defend not just the right of ANV to work politically but to defend the right of all the Basque people to self-determination.

Civil and political rights in the Basque Country are under permanent attack with the constant banning of the right of association, freedom of speech and freedom to demonstrate.

-Dozens of protests took place last Thursday as Spaniards celebrated the Constitution Day. Under the slogan “On the way to independence, join the struggle” hundreds of people gathered in front of the offices of the Spanish labour party and Basque Nationalist Party the day before. At the rally in Bilbao the pro-independence leader Pernando Barrena warned of the dangers of an agreement between those parties. According to him this would be a new fraude against Basque people and it wouldn’t resolve the political conflict because it wouldn’t include the right to self-determination.

More than 60 education centres opened on the day of the Spanish Constitution.

Teachers and students decided to protest against the imposed public holiday that celebrates the Spanish constitution.

In Gasteiz / Vitoria, they demanded the right to officially celebrate the International day of the Basque Language on the 3rd of December.
Students also organised many protests and activities against the celebration of the Spanish Constitution.

2,000 people gathered in Durango called by ANV where the Basque Book and Album annual festival took place. Speakers said: “We want to vote for independence against this constitutional wall.”

1,500 young people demonstrated in Donostia/San Sebastian against the Spanish costitution and against the 26 arrests that were carried out in the town in the last 5 weeks. At the end of the protest they said the Spanish constitution is a prison for Basques.


-Hundreds of people walked the streets of Baranain, near Irunea/Pamplona last Thursday in a highly emotional rally to remember Karmele Solaguren. Karmele was killed three years ago on a road accident on her way to visit her son Ekain. Ekain was a Basque political prisoner jailed at that time in Madrid. His mother is the latest victim of the dispersal policy implemented by the Spanish and French states upon the Basque political prisoners. 16 relatives have been killed on the way to visit their loved ones. The majority of the 600 prisoners are scattered in more than 100 prisons at hundreds of miles away from home.

The immigration office of the Navarre’s government was attacked on Saturday night. A small homemade bomb exploded in the immigration office. The Spanish police have accused the Basque youth movement of the attack.
In Bilbao, 36 phone boxes were sabotaged. An anonimous call claimed the attack and encouraged all Basque people to play their part even if they are symbolic actions such as these. This attack happened on the 6th of December, day of the Spanish Constitution.

6 December 2007

Last week's main news



The Spanish Court orders the arrests of 46 defendants on 18/98, show trial.

Thousands of people demonstrate against this mass of arrests in Bilbo.

One Spanish civil guard has been killed and another one seriously injured in a shooting in France. ETA has been accused of the murder.
On Friday, the Spanish National Court ordered the arrest of 46 defendants of the case known as the 18/98, show trial.
39 people have been arrested so far. They are accused of being related to the 18/98 show trial. Today the arrested appeared in from of the judge in Madrid.
In 1998 the Spanish conservative party PP, opened a case against the Basque Pro-independence movement. And nearly 10 years later, the Spanish labour party which is in government currently is closing the case.
This trial was the largest ever made in terms of the number of defendants. 52 citizens are involved in the case and so far 46 orders of imprisonment have been given. The judges heard testimonies of more than 300 people. Those on trial included alleged members of Basque social and political groups, media and other organizations. The Spanish National Court banned their activities citing they were supporters of the Basque armed group ETA.
This case has affected the lives of hundreds of Basques citizens. It has closed down many companies, a newspaper and a radio and has outlawed many organizations. It has been an attack of the civil and political rights of Basque people.
The sentence on this case is not going to be heard until the 10th of December. The court has ordered the police to arrest the accused before the convictions are announced. It is expected that most of the condemnation will be higher than what the prosecution has requested, 5, 10 and 15 years in many cases. A total amount of 527 years of prison is what is expected to be given by the judges to the 52 Basque citizens involved in the case.
Batasuna describes these arrests, and the sentences imposed on the defendants of the 18/98 show trial as very serious. This undemocratic action of the Spanish state has the only aim of repressing and attacking the Basque pro-independence movement and all the social sectors that work in favor of the recognition of the Basque Country as a nation.
These attacks are part of a global strategy of the Spanish State to neutralize the proposal of a democratic framework for the Basque Country. This proposal has been presented by the Basque pro-independence movement. A proposal that enables a democratic change for the Basque Country and that overcomes the political conflict. The Spanish government with the help of the Basque Nationalist Party, is determined to prevent the opening of a democratic resolution. They are using all the repressive means to avoid the possibility of a real change.
Against these facts, Batasuna calls on people to respond in the strongest way to this repressive attack and antidemocratic action, and to continue working for the creation of a democratic framework.
25,000 protesters marched and held a rally in the city of Bilbao on Sunday to protest against the detention of Basque citizens who were out on bail for the 18/98 show trial.
Tens of thousands of protesters marched carrying placards which said "In favor of the Basque Country's democratic rights."
Attendants to the rally included senior members of the outlawed party Batasuna such as Jone Goizelaia, Pernando Barrena or Karmelo Landa; the general secretary of the Basque Trade union LAB, Rafa Díez.
During the rally messages of solidarity were sent to all the detainees. Once again, the speakers made it clear that the pro independence movement will not let the Spanish government away with their criminalization campaign. They said, that this did not work 30 years ago, during Franco’s dictatorship and it will not work this time around either. They also called on people to keep fighting as the future of Basque citizens is in their own hands.
The 39 people arrested so far, have been transferred to a jail in Madrid. However, the lawyer for the case has announced that the prison authorities have already started to implement their dispersal policy. Some of the arrested have been taken out of the Madrid prison to be transferred to other jails. No-one knows at the minute where they are.
- A Spanish policeman was killed and another injured in a shooting in France last Saturday.
The shooting happended in the small French resort of Capbreto, at 12 miles from the Basque Country.
The two victims were found in an unmarked French car in a supermarket car park. Suspected members of ETA shot and killed a Spanish policeman and seriously wounded another in France on Saturday.
The wounded officer was rushed to hospital in a critical condition.
The two plain-clothed Guardia Civil policemen had been taking part in a surveillance operation with the French police.
According to the Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, the policemen and ETA suspects were in the same cafeteria by coincidence.
After recognising each other, the two policemen left the bar.
In Rubalcaba’s words, the suspects followed them outside, where witnesses said they heard people shouting as well as gun shots.
French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told in a joint news conference with Rubalcaba that ETA had shot at police in France before, but the latest incident was "quite exceptional".
Alliot-Marie said police were still hunting two men and a woman.
Last Tuesday the French police arrested two people in two villages in the province of Behe Nafarroa. They arrested Josune Arriaga at the request of the Spanish courts who accuse her of being a member of ETA. She has been transferred to a French prison in Pau. She is waiting to be put in the hands of the Spanish police.
Jerome Sanchez, was also arrested by the French police as part of the police operation that has been taking place in the last 2 months in Lapurdi and Behe Nafarroa. Jerome was released the next day.
Unai Lamariano was also released after paying 10,000 euro bail. He was arrested in Donostia San Sebastian by the Spanish police last April.

-2,000 people gathered in Irunea/Pamplona to denounce the lack of democracy in the Basque Country. This demonstration came the day before the official celebration of the Navarre Day organised by the local conservative government.

The slogan chosen for the demonstration was “With this Statute of Autonomy, zero democracy”. At the end of the rally the speakers said that this Statute does not bring anything but partition and imposition for the last 25 years.

The statute was never presented in a referendum. It also left the province of Navarre separated from the rest of the Basque provinces making this territory a strong hold for the pro-Spanish conservatives.

4 December 2007

25,000 supported the arrested activists in Bilbao

The reaction to the 18/98 macro-indictment arrests was impressive. Just 24 hours after the arrests begun a human wave of solidarity invaded the streets of Bilbao on Sunday. Among those gathered the emotions were high. The arrests shocked the Basque Country. Most of trade unions, political parties and social movements spoke against this dramatic development in the attacks against civil and political rights.

Among the imprisoned are welknown university professors, intellectuals, grassroot activists, trade unionists, journalists...

In the next couple of days more protests have been called all around the Basque Country.

Demonstration video: http://www.gara.net/bideoak/mani1898/

1 December 2007

Forty-six of the 18/98 defendants to get 527 years in prison


The 46 were among 56 people who went on trial in November 2005 and were out on bail. All of them were members of Basque left-wing organizations Ekin, Orain, Xaki and Fundación Joxemi Zumalabe.

Forty-six Basque militants will be convicted of aiding the armed Basque group ETA through a network of social and political organizations, a court official said. The 46 were among 56 people who went on trial in November 2005 and were out on bail after it ended in March of this year.

The National Court has decided to convict 46 of the defendants, although it will not formally read out the verdicts until some time after Dec. 10. Due to the risk of them trying to flee Spain, the court has ordered police to put them under detention before the convictions are announced, a court official said on ground rules barring publication of her name. According to the same sources, the defendants are being sentenced to 527 years and 6 months in prison

The case stemmed from an eight-year inquiry by Baltasar Garzon, Spain's leading anti-terror investigator. Garzon alleged that ETA was not just made up of armed commandos but also had support through political, financial and media organizations. The defendants were accused of belonging to these groups, some of which have been outlawed.

The organizations, such as banned youth groups called Ekin, Orain, Xaki and Fundación Joxemi Zumalabe engaged in activities ranging from fund-raising and helping ETA plan attacks to organizing street violence by ETA supporters, Garzon has charged.


Fourteen of defendants will be convicted of being leaders of a terrorist group and will be sentenced to spend between 12 and 18 years in prison. Other 17 will be convicted of being members of a terrorist group and will be sentenced to spend between 11 and 18 years in prison.

Thirteen will be convicted of collaboration with an armed band and will be sentenced to spend between 9 and 13 years in prison. The remaining two will be sentenced to 4 years in prison.

30 November 2007




Basque prisoner Joan Bidart tries to kill himself in a French prison.

6 young people arrested in Burlata, near Iruna, Pamplona last week, suffered tortures in the hands of the Spanish police.

Thousands of Basque citizens march in the main cities of the Basque Country, to demand Independence.


Joan Bidart was arrested at the end of September. He has been imprisoned in a French Prison isolated at hundreds of miles from home. On Monday 19th November he tried to commit suicide. His relatives were not informed of this incident until Wednesday, when they rang to book a visit to see their son at the weekend.
That’s when, prison officers informed the family that Joan had tried to commit suicide a few days earlier and was in hospital.

Due to the circumstances the French Judge Laurence Levert, has agreed to release the prisoner as soon as he will be ready to come out of hospital. He will be repatriated to his home town of Ortzaize. However, he will only be allowed to leave Ortzaize, for work and doctor appointments only. Joan has also been banned from seeing specific people.

Family members are shocked and horrified by the lack of care from the prison authorities. . They condemned the inhuman treatment received from the prison authorities, judges and some media. The mother of Joan Bidart is determined to see her son in hospital as soon as possible. But she is very aware that this will be very difficult.

Once again, Askatasuna has denounced the draconian prison conditions that Basque prisoners are subjected to in France and Spain.

Following this incident and to protest against prison isolation last Saturday 1500 people demonstrated in the Northern Town of Donibane Garazi, St. Jean Pied de Port.
They demanded the end of prison isolation for all Basque Political prisoners. In Joan Bidart’s case, he was at hundreds of miles from home in a French prison and he was on his own with no other Basque prisoners.
Demonstrators accused the French judges of pushing Joan to suicide.
Once again, Askatasuna, called on people to come out to the streets to protest.

6 young people were arrested last Tuesday morning in Burlata, near Irunea/Pamplona by the Spanish police. Soon after, all the mainstream media were accusing the young people of up to 32 attacks against police, banks and street rioting.

As we have been reporting it on a weekly basis, this police operation follows others which took place in every province of the Basque Country since August.

Up to ten houses and premises were searched and computers and pro-independence documents were taken away.

The anti repression group Askatasuna has denounced the violence used by the police during the arrests as well as the role of the media. Many protests have been called in the province.

After 5 days incommunicado all of the detainees went before the judge in the Spanish Special Court in Madrid. They declared that they were tortured.
They described that a bag was put over their heads, they were hit by the police, forced to do physical exercise and were prevented from sleeping.
4 of the arrested have been remanded in custody in a Madrilène jail. Another one was released after paying a 25,000 euro bail. And the 6th one was release with no specific measures.

The anti repression group, Askatasuna, denounced the fact that the police used torture to get information to charge the detainees.

Segi, the pro-independence youth movement also denounced the police operation and said that the Spanish government is criminalizing the young people who are working to build the Basque Country. They also heavily criticised the media intoxication.

In Irunea/Pamplona, another 10 young people were arrested on Friday night following a demonstration in support of the Burlata arrests. At least 4 of the arrested young people were under the age of 18. They were accused of disorderly behaviour and damages. Some of them were also accused of assaulting police officers.
The anti repression group denounced the heavy handedness of the police.


-ANV the still legal pro independence party, demands independence for the Basque Country. The party says that it is the only way forward.

Thousands of people came out to the streets in favor of independence on Sunday. Demonstrations were called in the provinces of Araba, Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia and Nafarroa.
According to the ANV party we are living through changing times and there are now more reasons than ever to work towards independence. For ANV it is the only way forward to guarantee a future for the Basque Country with its own framework for social and economic relations. They also criticized the Spanish Government for refusing to negotiate.

- Saturday saw the annual meeting of the Forum for National Debate. 150 people attended the discussions. These discussions came after a process of two months in which hundreds of people took part. Those present at the assembly came from different organizations and backgrounds but with the common commitment to work to strengthen initiatives to open a new democratic situation in the Basque Country.
This Forum works on the areas of national building and conflict resolution. It is the social network for the debate and the defence of the Basque Country as a nation.
They called upon political parties, trade unions, institutions and grassroots movements to work together in favour of sovereignty for the Basque Country and to overcome the current situation of denying rights.



Gotzone Luzuriaga, who was diagnosed last June with breast cancer, has seen her request to be released rejected.

Last Friday she was told that she will remain in jail. Prison authorities have acknowledged that Gotzone suffers from a serious illness. However, they do not accept the fact that remaining in prison will make her situation worse. Another reason to deny her release has been the fact that Gotzone is refusing to officially renounce from the actions she was convicted for. Prison authorities demand from her a formal declaration rejecting all illegal activities and the abandonment of arm struggle.

As she has been refusing to do so, prison authorities are keeping her hostage in jail.

According to doctors, Gotzone needs to be released immediately to receive a proper treatment to fight the cancer.

The anti repression group Askatasuna, has criticized the prison authorities and the Spanish government. The group said that the Spanish government is sending the message to all prisoners that they will remain in prison till death.

On Saturday afternoon, over 1000 people demanded the release of Gotzone in Gasteiz/Vitoria. At the end of the March, the pro amnesty movement reminded that there are 12 other Basque prisoners terminally ill who should be released.

Angel Figueroa is another Basque prisoner who should be released according to the law. He suffers from serious epilepsy and has recently been transferred to the South of Spain to a new high security prison.

The LAB trade union, accused the French and Spanish governments of not respecting the rights of Basque political prisoners, by denying them health care, by refusing them help from professionals of their choice. The trade union asked to attend all mobilisations in support of the rights to healthcare for Basque prisoners.

Jose Ramon Foruria is also another prisoner suffering from cancer. According to the Spanish law, due to his illness, Jose Ramon should be entitled to an early release. But the Spanish authorities are refusing to free him.
In order to denounce his situation and to demand his release friends from Markina, his home town will organise events throughout the week.



-5 young people were arrested in different towns around the Basque Country and taken to prison to fulfill the rest of their sentences. All of them were arrested in 2003 and spent 3 and a half years in jail accused of being members of ETA. This was one of a number of police operations set on the basis of an alleged list of members or future members of ETA. This list was never presented at the trial.

More than 100 Basque citizens have been arrested over a period of two years. This has been called the preventative arrests strategy.

The 5 people arrested this week were previously released on bail. They will now have to spend another 4 years in prison after the sentence was made public last week. They have been condemned to almost 8 years in prison.

Protests were organised immediately in their home towns and more were called for the following days.
The French police arrested a Basque refugee at the Border, in behobia.
Pedro Mari Goikoetxea was arrested following a Euro warrant presented by the Spanish State.
The 65 year old, who is from Hernani, a small town beside Donosti San Sebastian, is currently remanded in custody until the French authorities agree to put him in the hands of the Spanish police. He is accused of being a member of a terrorist organization and of smuggling illegal arms.


-Helmut Markov, MEP for the German PDS party visited Arnaldo Otegi in prison last week. Otegi is the pro-independence leader and has been in jail since last June. Markov is the president of Friendship as well. Friendship is a group of MEPs of different political parties set last year to support a peace process in the Basque Country. He said that a peace process is not possible if the leadership of the pro-independence movement is in prison. He defended the self-determination right for the Basque Country as the only way to resolve the political conflict.
Mario Soares, the former president of Portugal, also defended the need for political negotiation.

-The youth branch of one of the political parties in government in Norway spoke out against the Basque pro-independence movement’s criminalization, for the release of the imprisoned leadership and in favour of political negotiations as the only way to resolve the conflict between the Basque Country, France and Spain.


-50 people gathered in Tutera, in the south of the Navarre province to protest against the last attack against the pro-independence local pub. Insults and fascist graffiti were painted on the front wall of the pub last Wednesday.
-The local Askatasuna committee in the neighbourhood of Iturrama in Irunea/Pamplona denounced last week the terrible situation they suffer from the Spanish and local police. In the last couple of months 370 people have been stopped and identified by the police, 75 check points have been set, threats and beatings have become usual. Four people were arrested and some locals got fines of a total amount of 47,000 euro. The pro-independence pub was attacked four times and almost burnt down in one occasion.
-A post office was attacked with a home made bomb in Gasteiz/Vitoria and cables were cut at the railway near Irunea/Pamplona last week.

Last Tuesday the Basque Pro independence movement remembered the deaths of Santi Brouard and Josu Muguruza.
More than 1000 people took part in the commemoration.
The 2 members of the national executive of the pro independence party Herri Batasuna were killed by Spanish mercenaries. And last Tuesday the pro independence movement commemorated their death.

The movement called on people to continue doing the political work that Santi and Josu were doing.This would be the best way to remember them.

Pernando Barrena, spokesperson for Batasuna said that, the pro independence movement is committed to its people, to peace and to the right to decide.

23 November 2007


Strength and initiatives for a democratic process

-The Basque left pro-independence party ANV has called a mobilisation day on Saturday in towns and cities against a possible banning of the party and in favour of independence. ANV is still a legal party but there are continuous calls from the Spanish media and politicians to outlaw it.

ANV called on Basque people to protest against bannings and to open doors to independence.

Pernando Barrena Spokesperson for Batasuna, has said that the independentist movement is politically very strong.

Although the Spanish government is trying to portray the Left movement as weak with arrests and imprisonments, politically the movement is very strong and has a very clear political proposal for a democratic solution.

This is very much in contrast with the position of the Spanish government according to Barrena. He referred to the latest declarations of the Spanish Interior minister who keeps threatening the left independentist movement because after the failure of the negotiations the responsibility lies with the Spanish government.

-The Basque left pro-independence movement held two important press conferences last week. At the first one they remembered the third anniversary of the Anoeta Proposal. In November 2004 in front of 15,000 people the pro-independence movement launched a conflict resolution proposal which was largely accepted by the majority of Basque organizations as a road map to achieve a rights based peace.

The proposal was based on a negotiation table between the Spanish government and ETA to agree on prisoners, demilitarisation and victims issues. Another negotiation table was to be formed by all Basque political parties to agree a new political framework which would give Basque people the right to decide about their own future.

After ETA called a ceasefire on March 2006 hopes were high. Although the first table between the Spanish government and ETA held several meetings, politically nothing was achieved. The Spanish labour party in office with the help of the Basque Nationalist Party didn’t allow negotiations between political parties to happen. This brought the negotiation process to an end.

According to the Basque Left movement, although there is no ceasefire we are in a defining moment to make a change. As the pro-independence movement has always defended, this change should be based on the recognition of the Basque Country as a political subject, the respect of the decision of Basque citizens and the end of partition.

-Two days after this press conference another one was called to relaunch the Proposal for Democratic Framework which followed the Anoeta proposal on February 2007. The pro-independence movement put forward a practical proposal to end partition and to achieve a democratic scenario where Basque citizens will have the right to decide their future. According to this proposal an autonomy including self-determination right would be set in the south of the Basque Country and another one in the north. So far no other political party has presented any proposal.

Basque left has been warning in the last few months that the biggest danger is the possibility of a new fraud between the Spanish labour party and the Basque Nationalist Party to perpetuate partition, repression and to ignore the will of the majority of Basque people for self-determination.

In order to strengthen the Proposal for a Democratic Framework the pro-independence movement will launch a massive campaign which will generate information, debate and mobilizations in favour of the proposal throughout the Basque Country.


-Etxerat, the Association of relatives of Basque political, held a massive press conference to ask for the commitment of all Basque people to come together and protest against the brutal policies the Spanish and French states are inflicting upon their relatives in prison.

They said that 170 political prisoners are being kept in jail even though they have completed their sentence. According to the Spanish law, prisoners should be freed after completing the ¾ of the sentence

Another 16 prisoners are being held hostage in prison after fully completing their sentence. In fact their sentence has been extended to another 5,10 or 15 years longer depending on the prisoner.

Etxerat denounced this criminal policy which aims to keep Basque political prisoners in jail forever. In Spain the law has been changed so they can keep Basque prisoners up to 40 years in prison. In France prisoners with life sentences have to do at least 18 years before requesting their release.
Jose Mari Sagardui has been in jail for already 27 years. He is currently the prisoner serving the longest time in Europe.

Prisoners are kept in terrible living conditions, in isolation, up to 22 hours locked in their cells or as is the case in a new southern Spanish jail they can’t see natural light at any time.

Three prisoners tried to commit suicide this year. Many of them are suffering terminal illnesses and most of them are denied proper treatment.

In front of this dreadful situation Etxerat is asking Basques to make an effort to end with the Spanish and French impunity and bring prisoners home and alive.

The French authorities have left the young Gorka Betolaza in the hands of the Spanish police.

Gorka was transferred from France to Spain last week following a euro-warrant that was against him.

Betolaza was arrested last September by the French police in the northern province of Lapurdi. He was judged in the show trial against the Basque youth movement Jarrai Haika Segi, and was the only one left to be imprisoned out of the 23 young people involved in the case.

Once again, the seriously ill Basque political prisoners are being by the Spanish State.

The Spanish high court has denied the release of Gotzone Lopez de Luzuriaga.

The Basque Political prisoner who suffers from cancer has seen her request to be released denied.
The anti repressive group Askatasuna has criticised the decision and said that there is a political reason behind this decision which is to keep all Basque prisoners behind bars until they die. They also said that there is a political will to kill the prisoners.
Gotzone has also been having difficulties in receiving her chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. In some occasions she missed her treatments as they refused to transfer her to the hospital.

Meanwhile, the prisoner Anjel Figueroa, who suffers from serious epilepsy was transferred to Cordoba South of Spain. During the journey he had 3 epileptic attacks.

According to the Spanish legislation, there are currently 12 Basque political prisoners who should be released due to their serious chronic illnesses. But the Spanish State is refusing to do so.

In response to these events, and to denounce the plight of Basque political prisoners who suffer from terminal illnesses, hundreds of people have been taking part in the many protests that have been organized across the Basque country. The LAB trade union has also picketed the prison of Langraitz in the Basque Country to protest against these inhuman treatment of the prisoners.

Solidarity has also been coming from abroad when 30 people rallied outside the Spanish consulate in Bordeaux, France.


Last Monday ETA set a bomb outside the court buildings in Getxo near Bilbao. A person speaking on behalf of the armed organisation called a local newspaper to warn about it. The Basque-Spanish police came to the site, deactivate the bomb and took it to the police station. However the bomb exploded a few hours later cut off four fingers of a policeman.


-French authorities raided 3 Basque popular pubs last week, in the northern towns of Baiona, Ziburu and Hendaia. They checked the financial accounts and assets in the pubs.
The orders for the operation were given by the famous French judge Laurence Levert and
Marie Antoinette Houyvet. The order was allegedly based on the financing of the Basque nationalist movement and the terrorist association with the aim to plan terrorist actions.
Nothing was found only a few invoices and accounts were ceased.

The anti repression group Askatasuna denounced these events and accused the French judges of following the same path as the famous Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, by trying to criminalize all social and political work.

Last September a similar raid took place against another bar and the spokesperson of the antirepression group confirmed that the latest operation is directly linked to that one.

Following these events a public talk was organized in Garazi were 200 people took part and another 600 people protested on Saturday under the slogan let the Basque country in peace.

-According to Alaistair Lyon, the British courts want to solve the case as soon as possible. That is the way euro-warrants are dealt with. However in this case there are some important questions that the tribunal needs to examine. He believes that this case is politically motivated and this complicates the procedure.

Lyon also finds hard to believe that in the XXI century there is still a possibility like in Spain to arrest people and not give them the option to have a lawyer, or to call a doctor their choice. He is also surprised that a confession can become a main element in a case when there are risks that this confession has been obtained under duress. He recalls the Irish cases of the Birmingham 6 or the Gilford 4.
Lyon also said that if the Spanish State had a real interest in eradicating claims of torture it would take serious measures to do so.


-The three western Basque provinces parliament passed a motion against torture and will send a delegation to Madrid to ask for effective measures which will assure the end of this practice. This motion came after the last Amnesty International report on human rights abuses in Spain.

Acts of torture and other ill-treatment by police officers in Spain are not isolated incidents, Amnesty International said last week. The reluctance of successive Spanish governments to address the problem is exacerbating the climate of impunity which fosters further incidents of ill-treatment..

"The Spanish authorities must end the state of denial regarding torture and other ill-treatment by police officers. The lack of political will to address the problem has led to further human rights violations," Rachel Taylor, Amnesty International's researcher on Spain said.

Amnesty International's report, Spain: Adding insult to injury: The effective impunity of police officers in cases of torture and other ill-treatment, highlights cases of people who have been hit, kicked, punched and verbally abused by police officers, including while handcuffed, both in the street and while in police custody.

In some cases, the complainants have claimed that they were threatened with a gun or knife, whipped on the soles of their feet, and received death threats from police officers. In one case a detainee was told that if he did not cooperate, the police officers would rape his girlfriend. In another, a man lost hearing in one ear for several weeks as a result of blows to his head from police officers.

Amnesty International's research indicates that the cases documented in this report are not isolated incidents but are examples of pervasive and structural shortcomings in the prevention, investigation and punishment of torture and other ill-treatment.

Victims of ill treatment and torture by the police frequently do not receive justice. Often, court decisions are biased towards police testimony and victims of abuse may end up in prison and have their lives and careers ruined.


The Jobs & Benefits office in Tutera and the office of the conservative Navarrese party UPN in Caparroso, which are both in the south of the Basque province of Navarre, were attacked last Friday.

More than 1000 road signs in the French and Spanish language have been erased in defense of the Basque Language.
This initiative has taken place in around 50 towns throughout the Basque Country. Road signs written in Spanish and French only, were erased to protest against the lack of use of the Basque Language.


Organised by West Belfast ógra Shinn Féin and the Belfast Basque Committee a night of solidarity, struggle and craic will be starting at 8pm in the Conway Mill in Belfast on the 24th of November. DVDs, Armagh Bandits, ska-reggae disco and much more. Bring your own. £5. Don't miss it!!

15 November 2007

Thousands take to the streets against repression and criminalization

-The Basque Left movement has called on people to mobilize against the war strategy agreed by the Spanish Socialist and Basque nationalist PNV.

The Basque left movement has blamed Jose Luis Zapatero’s government for the break down of negotiations. Since then, the Spanish government in cooperation with the Basque Nationalist Party has been implementing a strategy of war and criminalization against the Basque Left movement.

Regular banning of demonstrations and commemorations, police heavy handedness, the arrest of the whole of the national executive of Batasuna and other daily arrests are just a few examples of the repressive strategy against the Basque left movement.
In order to respond to this, the Basque left movement have called on people to get to the streets and protest.

-On Thursday a delegation of the main Basque trade union ELA, led by its general secretary, visited the Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi at the Donostia/San Sebastian jail. Otegi has been imprisoned since last June. This imprisonment has been denounced by the majority of Basque society as an attack against peace efforts. ELA’s leader Jose Elorrieta showed his solidarity with Otegi and expressed his concern at what he defined as a very low democracy level in the Spanish state

-On the same day Gipuzkoa’s provincial Assembly called for the immediate release of Arnaldo Otegi and the rest of the pro-independence leaders arrested. Tha assembly also condemned the Spanish government. The proposed motion supported a peace process which would lead to the right of self-determination for the Basque Country.

-The accused tried at the so called 18/98 show trial called on the Basque people to mobilise. They expect to be sent to prison as soon as they announce their sentence in the next couple of weeks. They have called a national demonstration and a one hour strike.

52 political, social and cultural activists were judged by the Spanish Special Court in its longest trial ever. It went from November 2005 to March 2007 and was called a show trial due to the lack of guarantees for the defence and the clear political aim to criminalize pro-independence ideas.

The majority of Basque political parties, trade unions, grassroots organizations and international observers criticised the attack against civil and political rights.

The accused denounced that the Spanish state wants to silence the Basques. It wants to destroy organizations, media and institutions created by Basque society.

-Pernando Barrena, Batasuna’s spokesperson accused the Spanish government of trying to blow up all the bridges built during the negociation process. He also warned the Spanish government of the fact that they will need to fill many football stadiums of detenees to finish with the left pro-independence movement.

He said they expect more detentions in the next months before the Spanish elections in March.

-Basque pro-independence former MEP Karmelo Landa and international department member Haizpea Abrisketa met MEP’s and journalists last week in Brussels. They explained how the Spanish government “threw away the key of the peace process” after putting in prison the whole of the pro-independence executive. They said that nowadays there are no democratic conditions in the Basque Country as civil and political rights are constantly under attack.

They remembered the motion passed by the European Parliament in October 2006 in favour of a peace process and called on MEPs, European governments and institutions to push in favour of a conflict resolution like in Ireland.


-After four days incommunicado, the 4 young people arrested in Donosti San Sebastian were released. They suffered threats and abuse from Spanish police. They were accused of attacks against the police and of being part of the local Direction of Segi, the pro-independence youth movement.

Dozens of pro-independence youths held a press conference to denounce the criminalization of the youth movement. A march was also organised under the slogan “Against fascism, independence!”.


-The Basque political prisoner Inaki Bilbao who was on hunger and thirst strike for 9 days was sent back to prison from the hospital where he was taken to after having serious health problems. The doctors stood against the move as he wasn’t entirely recovered. Inaki Bilbao had to go into hunger and thirst strike last 22nd of October to protest against the isolation situation he suffers. Inaki is held in a jail at more than 700 miles away from the Basque Country.

-Basque political prisoner Inaki Erro has been in prison for 20 years. Prisoners support group in his home town organised last week a public talk with former prisoners who explained the audience the hard living conditions they suffer in jail. They also highlighted the need to show support to Inaki who is in isolation in a prison in the south of Spain. A picket line was also organised as by law he should be released after completing the three quarters of his sentence. There are many Basque political prisoners in this situation effectively kidnapped.

-Prisoner Angel Figueroa has been transferred from a prison in the Basque Country to Cordoba South of Spain.

The Basque political prisoner Angel Figueroa is one of the inmates who is suffering from serious ill health. He has serious epileptic attacks as well as sclerosis in his right side. His illness has been diagnosed as chronic last week.

This transfer comes at a time when Basque society has been demanding the release of prisoners who suffer from terminal or chronic illnesses.

Angel is 36 and has been in prison for 13 years. The anti repressive group Askatasuna says that Angel’s condition has worsened due to the prison conditions that Basque political prisoners are subjected to. Angel was diagnosed with epilepsy more than 20 years ago, but in the last 13 years he has been in jail he has not been treated properly to fight his illness.

In Askatasuna’s words, the Spanish government is trying to kill Basque prisoners, by keeping them in prison with serious illnesses.

In Angel’s case, his condition has worsen, by the fact that he has now been transferred from a prison in the Basque Country to the South of Spain.

As mentioned in previous weeks, there are 12 other Basque political prisoners suffering from terminal illnesses and Basque society has been demanding for their immediate release.

-During the week more than 50 towns saw protests in solidarity with the Basque political prisoners. Far away from the Basque Country another solidarity protest took place as well. The pro-independence movement of Britanny held a rally outside the Rennes jail were Basque political prisoner Argi Perurena is currently held.

They accused the French state of implementing the same dispersal policy as the Spanish. They also accused the French government of sending Basque prisoners to torture when they are extradited to Spain. They denounced the criminalization campaign against the pro-independence movement and sent solidarity greetings. Britanny has been for many decades a welcoming place for Basques and dozens of Bretons have been arrested for their help throughout the years. One of them died in prison.

-50 people traveled to Valencia last Saturday to support Inigo Muerza. He was released after 7 years in prison. 300 people gathered in his home town to welcome the political prisoner. But the Basque-Spanish police charged against them, broke windows at the local pro-independence pub and arrested two young men.

- 200 people gathered at the squated youth centre in Gasteiz/Vitoria to welcome the former political prisoner Gotzon Kortazar. This rally was also banned by the three western Basque provinces government. As we can see all welcoming events to Basque prisoners are systematically banned and attacked by the Basque-Spanish police. However, they haven’t managed to stop the support that thousands of people give to activists and volunteers.

News November 6th to 13th
-Last Tuesday hundreds of people protested in the historical city of Gernika against fascism. This town is world wide known as 70 years ago Spanish fascists helped by German nazis bombed Gernika and killed more than 400 civilians.

On Tuesday morning a trial was called against three Spanish soldiers who attacked a pro-independence pub during the summer. They were defended by a notorious Spanish fascist lawyer.

At the time of the trial house windows, shops and pubs shut down, Basque flags were hanged at balconies and a demonstration was called. Hundreds of people gathered behind a banner that said “The Basque Country is a nation, fascism out”. Demonstrators were attacked by the Basque-Spanish police. Riots spread around Gernika while the fascists arrived protected by the same police. A 19 year-old was arrested and police car windows were broken.

Inside the court the pro-independence pub staff were harrased and intimidated by the fascist squad.

-Once again the Spanish general prosecutor, appointed by the government, proudly claimed that the judiciary has been tougher with Basques during 2006, when ETA’s ceasefire was on. Tougher than when the conservative party was in power. No doubt, the Spanish government weren’t on ceasefire…

-The Basque diaspora in Mexico is organising a week long programme of events. They will remember the Basque rebel Xabier Mina who took part in the Mexican war of independence against Spain. They will also highlight the current situation in the Basque Country. Many debates and films will take place, in which Mexican and Basque historians, human rights lawyers and journalists will take part.

-The pro-independence trade union LAB organised a rally in Irunea/Pamplona last Friday. 400 representatives gathered to hear general secretary Rafa Diez call for union particularly within the trade union movement to achieve a structural political change to a democratic situation. He said they have to become an engine for self-determination and to strengthen the working class and pro-independence project as well.

8 November 2007

Getting tough in the streets, even tougher in the prisons

Main News 30th October-6th November

The Basque political prisoner, Ainhoa Mujika has been taken out of isolation.

The director of Soto del Real prison in Madrid, has agreed to lift the isolation regime that was imposed on Ainhoa Mujika following weeks of protests from her fellow inmates.

In the last few weeks, prisoners in Soto del Real have been campaigning to end the policy of isolation against Basque Political prisoners. And there are currently no Basque prisoners left on isolation in this prison


Gorka Betolaza has been transferred from France to Spain. He was arrested in September in the Northern part of the Basque Country. The French police arrested him following a European arrest warrant issued by the Spanish State.
Gorka is part of the trial show against ‘Jarrai Haika Segi, the Basque youth movement. He has been transferred to a Spanish jail to complete his sentence of 6 years.
Last September over 20 young people were arrested and jailed as part of this trial show. They have all been charged of being members of an illegal organisation and have been jailed for 6 years.


The pro-amnesty movement has denounced the life sentence that has been inflicted to the Basque political prisoner Andoni Altza.

They demand his immediate release. Andoni was arrested in 1991 and according to the law at the time he should have been released in 2001 after completing the ¾ of his sentence. However he was refused to be freed.
Last November Andoni completed his full sentence. However the Spanish court applied a new condemnation which has extended his sentence until 2018.
The pro-amnesty movement demands his immediate release and has criticised the attitude of so called democratic political parties which are doing nothing in front of such injustice.


Inaki Bilbao Basque political prisoner has abandoned his hunger and thrust strike after 9 days.
Inaki was hospitalised last Thursday, after loosing nearly 2 stone since the beginning of his hunger and thrust strike on the 22nd of October.
He was protesting against the harsh prison regime that Basque political prisoners are arbitrarily subjected to in the new prison of Puerto III in Cadiz.

According to the anti repression group Askatasuna, from the day Bilbao was transferred to the new prison, he was put in an isolation cell in which the only contact was prison officers. Basque prisoners were also unnecessarily searched.

Puerto III prison, was opened last June. There are currently 6 Basque Political prisoners who are subjected to an extremely hard prison regime.
This modern high security prison has been design for 500 prisoners, 70 of them who are complete isolation.
According to prisoners, there is no natural light in the cells as the windows are covered with steel.
The regime is so strict that prisoners are only allowed to have things in twos. 2 T-shirts, 2 books, 2 pairs of sock…
Some of the prisoners have actually described Puerto II as the Spanish Guantanamo.

Meanwhile protests have been taking place in solidarity with Inaki and all the Basque prisoners throughout the Basque Country.

Protests to defend the right of Basque political prisoners as individuals and as a collective but also to demand political status

And like every Wednesday, in several universities students called protests in support of the prisoners.

Families of terminally ill prisoners have asked for support to bring the loved one’s home alive.

The Spanish and French governments are trying to kill our relatives. That is what family members of prisoners who are suffering terminal and chronic illnesses have claimed.

Last week family members requested the release of terminally ill prisoners. Following the clear lack of support from Basque institutions this time again they have called on Basque citizens to put pressure to demand the release of these prisoners.
They asked for help to bring them back alive and not in coffins.

There are currently 12 Basque political prisoners suffering from terminal illnesses. They are being prevented from receiving proper medical treatment.

In the case of prisoner Rego Vidal, who was supposed to be repatriated to the Basque Country was denied the transfer at the last minute. His medical has also mysteriously disappeared.
Prisoner Gotzone Lopez Luzuriaga who is suffering from cancer has been denied her last 4 radiotherapy sessions.
To add to this, this year 3 prisoners with psychological problems have tried to mill themselves this year.
Facing this serious situation, family members have been meeting representatives of Basque institutions who have not been very supportive.
A demonstration has been called in favour of autonomy for the 3 Northern Basque provinces.

Basque nationalists from different political views have called on citizens from the provinces of Lapurdi, Behe Nafarroa and Zuberoa to take part in the demonstration in favour of autonomy in the French controlled part of the basque country.
This group of people wish to send a very clear message to the French government and to the newly elected conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy, to implement the rules of democracy by acknowledging the rights of the Northern Basque Country to have its own institutions.

The demonstration will take place of the 15th December in Baiona.


The Tahiti pro-independence movement expressed their support for Batasuna after the arrests of the leadership at the beginning of October. Tahiti is a French colony in the Pacific. They have broad autonomy but it’s always endangered by the French government. One of the Tahiti pro-independence spokesperson took part at a conference promoted by the Basque left about autonomy in the north of the Basque Country last week and shared their experiences.


One of the main news item in the Basque and Spanish media last week was the Basque Main Court’s decision to start a trial against the the three western Basque provinces prime minister, members of the Spanish labour party and Batasuna for holding meetings during ETA’s ceasefire.

Most of political leaders said that this step is a clear criminalization of dialogue and a persecution of political ideas. Batasuna added that the Spanish government is using all means to avoid a democratic framework for the Basque Country and remembered nowadays nobody trusts the so-called Spanish justice system.


7 young people, aged between 19 and 22, were arrested in the early hours of last Tuesday in a Spanish police operation in Donostia/San Sebastian and accused them of taking part in numerous attacks against police, banks and other Spanish economic targets in the last months.

The Spanish Home minister linked this operation to another two which happened in the last couple of months. We were talking about one of them just two weeks ago. 18 young people have been arrested in total.

Hundreds of people protested in different neighborhoods in Donostia/San Sebastian in the afternoon asking for the end of repression and the release of the arrested nationalist youths. 1000 gathered in a centralized demonstration on Wednesday and 1500 on Saturday again. Barricades were erected in different parts of the city during the week.

Askatasuna, the anti-repression movement, denounced the police operation and warned of the risk of being tortured by the police.

Batasuna said the PSOE, the Spanish labour party wants to show before next elections in March that they can be even tougher than the right wing Popular Party but increased repression won’t stop the popular demand of real democracy for the Basque Country.
Today, 7 days after the arrests the youth are still incommunicado after after having spent 5 days on police hands and two in prison.


The post office in Zalla, close to Bilbao was attacked last Wednesday and two banks in Irunea/Pamplona and a Basque-Spanish policeman’s wife’s shop in the coastal town of Ondarroa during the week. These kind of attacks are usually claimed as a response to repression.


The legacy of the so called Spanish civil war is still very much alive in the Basque Country. Many associations have been formed in the last couple of years to remember those killed by fascism and their beliefs. Even here in West Belfast a mural remembering the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the Basque town of Gernika was painted over the summer. It reflects perfectly the suffering of the Basque people. This is why these associations have denounced the so called Law of historic memory passed by the Spanish parliament last week. According to them this law doesn’t give a proper answer to their demands of recognition of the Franco dictatorship victims and doesn’t punish those who supported it. Protests were held in many different towns along the Basque Country during the week.


ANV, Basque Nationalist Action, is the oldest of the left pro-independence parties and fought in the front in the 1936-1939 war to defend the Basque Country against Spanish fascism. Nowadays Spanish fascism is threatening them once again. There are constant calls from Spanish media to ban ANV as they did with Batasuna and the Spanish government just passed a law where they jeopardize the fundings they owe ANV for all the properties stolen during the war if they finally get banned.

Last week ANV organised a press conference where they announced they will stand at the next Spanish general elections in March and dismissed any trial to get them out of them. They want to carry the pro-independence banner to Spain and defend this option as the only one to ensure the Basque Country will become a state once again as it was 500 years ago.


For three days MEP’s and politicians from all around Europe took part at the first meeting of the Gernika Net for Self-determination at the historical Basque town. Among them was Francie Brolly from Sinn Féin. This association was formed last April during the events organised on the 70th anniversary of the fascist bombing to defend internationally the right of the Basque County to self-determination right. Before the first meeting they were welcomed by the Gernika’s mayor who said: As you all know 70 years ago the fascist bombs destroyed this city. They wanted to destroy Gernika and his tree, the symbol of Basque freedom. Lots of people died but we want you to know that today the Basque people we continue fighting on defence of our rights until we achieve self-determination.

After the meeting a Flemish MP and Lloyd Quinan from the Convention for Scottish independence visited Arnaldo Otegi, Batasuna’s leader in jail. At the prison gates they spoke to the media and denounced once again the irresponsibility of the Spanish government who instead engaging in dialogue they imprison the pro-independence leaders.


Al Jazeera English, the influential world wide TV channel broadcasted a special report on the Basque Country last 10th of October during People and Power show. The programme called “Basque battles” came up following the arrest of 23 members of the Basque "Batasuna" party. People & Power presented an exclusive report filmed during the build-up to these arrests.

They investigated the banning of pro-independence Basque parties by the Spanish government in local elections due to their alleged links with ETA.

You can watch it by clicking on our Images section just on the right hand side of the blog.