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.

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