MAIN NEWS WEEK 20TH TO 27TH NOVEMBER
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.
PROTESTS AND OTHER
-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.