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.