23 November 2007
BASQUELEFT REPONDS TO REPRESSION WITH MORE INITIATIVES
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.