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.

6 November 2007

Repression spreads

News 23rd-30th October


-30 people from the coastal town of Ondarroa were attacked by the Basque-Spanish police last Tuesday at 8am. They were protesting against the political discrimination of the left pro-independence movement.

As mentioned last week, hundreds of pro-independence candidates who stood in the last elections were undemocratically banned. In Ondarroa, banned candidates got the majority of the votes but were ignored. Instead an undemocratically elected commission was appointed to rule the town.

Since then many protests have been taking place including a general strike.

Last Tuesday’s protest showed clearly the lack of democracy in Ondarroa and more generally in the Basque Country. Citizens were not allowed to access a council meeting which was called on purpose at 8am in a neighbouring town to avoid protests. Instead they were brutally attacked.

-In Bilbao and Hernani events to remember those killed by the Spanish police where banned. The Spanish Special Court and the local authorities decided to ban commemorations remembering people killed by police forces.
The organizers said that this has been happening for the last couple of years. They denounced the hipocrisy of those banning these commemorations while awarding Spanish torturers and killers in the police force.

A group of residents in the town of Bergara, Gipuzkoa, have condemned the aggressive behaviour of the Ertzaintza Basque – Spanish police.
According to the residents, the police charged against hundreds of people including children who were enjoying a street party.
“After a popular meal in the square of the town, people were enjoying themselves singing and dancing”, says a resident.
After midnight the police surrounded the the square, creating shock, fear and tensions among people. The police destroyed the good party atmosphere, particularly when it decided to beat 11 people and arrest 2 others.
Residents have complained saying that the police behaviour was heavy handed and completely inappropriate.

-Last week we mentioned the arrest of 7 young men in Getxo in Bizkaia. They are accused of sabotages between 2003 and 2005. Askatasuna, the prisoners defense group, denounced that these accusations are made up by the Spanish Home office.
No evidence has been presented in court, when the Getxo 7 were put before the judge.
All of the arrested were tortured and one of them had to be taken into hospital.
Askatasuna said that 144 people have been arrested since ETA’s ceasefire ended, four months ago. 71 of them have ended up in jail.

2 political prisoners jailed in France have been left in the hands of the Spanish State.

According to Askatasuna, the antirepressive organisation, Urtzi Garcia was arrested last 24th of September in the Northern Basque Country. He was arrested in a police operation along with 14 other people. After being jailed in France, he has now been transferred to a Spanish prison.

The second prisoner, who has been also jailed in France for quite some time has been extradited to Spain for 6 months.
According to recent legislation, prisoners jailed in France can be extradited for a specific period of time at the request of the Spanish court.

Borja Urberuaga, who is in his twenties was arrested in Baiona, North of the Basque Country.
He was arrested by the French police following information sent by the Spanish Civil Guard.
According to Askatasuna the antirepression group, a car stopped suddenly when Borja was walking in the streets of Baiona. Two police officers got out of the car and arrested him.
Borja who is originally from Gernika, has been charged with taking part in street riots and has to complete his sentence in the Spanish State.
Borja is being kept in a French Jail in the town of Pau until the French authorities decide to send to Spain to complete his sentence.

-The Spanish Special Court decided to open a case against the youth association Kaskagorri. It happened after the so called Victims of Terrorism group denounced that the youth association was organizing events in favour of Basque political prisoners during Bilbao’s main festivals in August.
The Basque youth movements website called Gaztesarea has also been accused of hosting Kaskagorri’s website and for supporting terrorism.
This is just another case of the Spanish witch hunting against all forms of solidarity with prisoners or in defense of pro-independence positions.
-Train stations, buses and banks were attacked over the weekend in different Basque towns in response to the Spanish repression.

Over 8000 people gathered in different towns across the Basque Country last Friday in support of Basque Political prisoners. The protests focused on the ill treatment of Basque prisoners in the French and Spanish jails.

There are currently a dozen prisoners suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses. Gotzone Luzuriaga is one of them. She suffers from Breast cancer and awaiting treatment.
Etxerat, the association of relatives of Basque political prisoners has condemned the fact that the French and Spanish governments are playing with their relatives lives with total impunity.
Total impunity, when provoking serious illnesses that often cannot be cured, by not releasing prisoners who have completed their sentence, by not providing proper medical treatment, by scattering all the prisoners in Spanish and French jails
Over the last 2 decades 22 prisoners have lost their lives in French and Spanish jails.
Etxerat has called on Basque citizens to come out and protest against these measures and to put pressure on the Spanish and French governments.


- The parliament representing the three western Basque provinces of the Basque Country called for the immediate release of the leadership of Batasuna.
The 19 members of the the left pro-independence movement were arrested while holding a meeting at the beginning of October.
The parliament asked for the respect of all ideas and the defense of freedom of speech, reunion and association.

-Gerry Adams asked for the release of Batasuna’s leadership in an interview broadcasted by the Basque public TV last Wednesday. The leadership of Batasuna was arrested on the 4th of October. Adams said that in his view the Basque left pro-independence movement has a clear will for peace and has tried hard to get to a resolution. Adams said that it has been a big mistake to arrest those trying to build peace. He defended dialogue and negotiation as the way to achieve an end to a long conflict. Adams also said that “If this is going to happen at a certain point why not do it now instead of prolonging the terrible consequences of it”.

When asked about Sinn Féin’s involvement as mediators during the negotiation process between ETA and the Spanish government as well as Batasuna and the Spanish social-democratic party, Gerry Adams kept the information private.

-Meanwhile in Barcelona 100 people gathered to show support to the Batasuna’s leadership imprisoned and to defend the struggle the Basque pro-independence movement


-Irunea/Pamplona saw the 4th annual national general debate on the estate of the Basque Country. It was organised by the National Debate Forum.
It is this forum’s task to bring people together and to put proposals forward to rebuild the Basque Country as a nation.
The main conclusion of this year was that a political change is about to happen. And that it is crucial that this change happens around the main key issues of self-determination and end of partition.

-The 77 year old left pro-independence party ANV/Basque Nationalist Action celebrated its 11th Congress last Saturday.
Participants renewed their commitment to build a peace scenario based on the Basque Country’s right to self-determination.
The party that fought Franco’s fascist coup, 70 years ago, faces constant threats of being banned by Spanish authorities.

Batera is collecting signatures to ask the French government to have a consultation around the creation of a Basque department in Northern part of the Basque country.
The platform Batera is campaginin in favour of a Basque administrative department within the French State.

To have a consultation around the issue, Batera needs to collect a total number of 46000 signatures by next March.
30000 have already been gathered and the platform has called on individuals as well as trade unions, community organizations and associations to support the campaign.