30 January 2008



-Egunkaria case about to start.

-Ógra Shinn Féin supports Basque struggle at National Congress.

-Thousands of people take part in a rally in Gasteiz in preparation for the March elections.

-8 young people arrested in a new Spanish police operation.

-Egunkaria case about to start.

The only Basque language newspaper was closed down by the Spanish government in 2002 and the editorial team was arrested and tortured by the Guardia Civil military police.

Thousands of people took to the streets to protest against an attack that shocked Basque society.

Months later a new newspaper was launched, Berria, thanks to the massive funds collected throughout the Basque Country by thousands of anonimous citizens.

The case has been divided in two parts. 6 years on the accused have been told that the economic trial is about to start. A date has to be set for the second part which will be deal with in criminal court.

The public prosecution is asking for up to 26 years of prison for each of the accused.

-Ógra Shinn Féin supports Basque struggle at national congress.

Several motions supporting the Basque struggle for self-determination were passed at the last ÓSF Congress one week ago. Some of them were prisoners related and some others called for lifting the Banning of Segi.

A Basque delegation from the youth organization Segi addressed the Congress and thanked participants for their warm welcome and the ÓSF support.

ÓSF national organiser Barry McColgan said that the Basque youth movement is a model and a very important reference for them as an organization and their work capacity.

- Thousands of people take part in a rally in Gasteiz in preparation for the March elections.

The list of candidates for the province of Araba was presented. The Basque Nationalist Action party ANV made it clear that they have a commitment to fulfil by taking part in the March elections. In Hernani, the party has also presented his candidates, for the Spanish Senate and Congress for the province of Gipuzkoa.
As the Spanish authorities are about to ban the party, activists have made it clear that nothing will stop the pro independence movement from taking part in the March elections.

However the Spanish Labour party has said that they will obstruct all efforts of the independence movement of running in the Spanish elections.
On March 9th, the Spanish general election will take place and vice president, Maria Teresa de la Vega has made it clear that no pro independence parties will be taking part in the elections.

ANV, the Basque Nationalist Action party and the Communist Party of the Basque Country will not be allowed to take part in the elections, and the Spanish government has given the order to ban all pro independence parties.
The pro independence movement has denounced that the Spanish government has shown a very weak position and that once again they are breaking all the rules of democracy, by denying them basic rights such as the right to association to meet and to express.
We’ll be talking about it with Eusebio Lasa, spokesperson for the pro-independence movement in the second half of the program.

- Mayoress of Hernani, Marian Beitialarrangoitia has been released after appearing in the Special Court of Madrid. She was accused of supporting ETA members following a rally in which she supported Basque political prisoners in particular Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola who were tortured two weeks ago.

She appeared in front of the judge for half an hour and was released. She will have to present herself at the local tribunal every other week, and is not allowed to leave the Spanish State.

The Basque Action party ANV made it clear that this time it was Marian’s turn but it could have been anybody else as thousands of people support Basque political prisoners. Marian herself highlighted that they were looking for an excuse and they used her support towards the prisoners as the reason to arrest her.

-In 2003 the Spanish Supreme Court banned Batasuna and asked the Parliament of the three western Basque provinces for the disbandment of the pro-independence parliamentary group. Three of the Parliament’s executive members didn’t vote in favour of the disbandment and were judged subsequently. Last week the three of them were condemned by the Spanish Supreme Court for desobidience and therefore will be barred from holding any public elected position for two years.

This move has been seen as an attack against the three western provinces autonomy and has become the main news of the week in the Basque Country and Spain.

The three members of the parliament condemned belong to the Basque Nationalist Party, Basque Solidarity party and United Left party. The three parties form a coalition in government in that part of the Basque Country and called a demonstration last Saturday gathering around 15,000 people.

The pro-independence movement boycotted the rally as they considered a big hipocrisy to dennounce this late attack from the Spanish state, while the accused and their supporters stand aside in front of the continous attacks the pro-independence movement suffers through arrests, torture, bannings...etc. Never the less the pro-independence movement has highlighted that this is just another consequence of the political conflict and has emphasised the need for dialogue and negotiation to go to the roots of such conflict.


- 2 men arrested and tortured by the Spanish police are imprisoned after refusing to declare in front of the judge.
Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola have refused to declare in the Spanish Special court. They are accused of the car bomb attack in the Terminal 4 of Madrid airport in December 2006.

They appeared in front of the judge for 15 minutes each and were accused of killing two people as a consequence of the car bomb. According to the judge there is evidence of the two men being at the airport.

However, Portu and Sarasola have refused to answer any questions or to be subjected to any tests. The judge said that they have not denied the facts and they have used their right to remain silent.

- Despite police harassment, Basque political prisoners are remembered in the Donosti, San Sebastian Festival.

Apart from a huge party and celebration day, the San Sebastian day has become over the years a day to show commitment and solidarity. However last Saturday the traditional protest in support of prisoners was attacked by the police who pushed and hit demonstrators mainly relatives of prisoners who are most of them of a certain age.

Every year, at the launch of the big festival, family members take to the stage to hold the photos of their loved ones who are currently in prison as a way to get the prisoners to take part in the big party.
However this year the police denied them access to the stage and attacked them.

- Lander Fernandez has been released from prison in France after completion of his 4 year sentence.

He was arrested in 2003 and denounced been ill treated. Following his release from jail, French authorities expelled him to Spain.

- Prisoner Mizel Barnetxe has put an end to his hunger strike. Mizel started his hunger strike to denounce the isolation and deplorable prison conditions prisoners are subjected to in the Jail of Agen in France. This week the French tribunal will be looking at his petition of release.

- Prisoner Jon Bilbao is remembered and honoured by his neighbours in his home town of Astrabudua. He has been in prison 26 years, half of his life. Under Spanish law he should have been already released by as it happens with many Basque political prisoners he is kept kidnapped.

Jon who is 52 was arrested in 1982 and kept incommunicado for 9 days. He denounced being tortured was condemned to 30 years.

-The dispersal policy of the French and Spanish governments has claimed the first accident of the year.

The mother and 2 brothers of political prisoner Felix Gartzia had a car accident last Sunday on the way to see their relative in prison.

They were on the way to Alcala Meco prison in Madrid. Following the accident the mother is suffering from back pains.

Etxerat the group of relatives of prisoners has accused the Spanish and French governments of killing, injuring and economically destroying families while the dispersal policy is in place.

The group has asked Basque citizens to mobilize to put pressure of the 2 governments to repatriate all Basque prisoners.

-Neighbours and friends of the Basque political prisoner Marilo Gorostiaga formed a platform to demand her release. At a press conference attended by dozens of them they denounced this prisoner’s situation. Marilo is kept in jail despite the terrible illnesses she suffers: breast cancer, diabetes, dislipemia, loss of hearing, hipertension and others. Although the Spanish prison where she is has been in favour of her release the Spanish National Court has denied it.

The platform in favour of Marilo’s release denounced the lack of medical care in prison. However Marilo wrote a letter to say that after 13 years in jail she is still strong and will keep fighting against the ilnesses.

-Last week we got the terrible news of the death of a Basque deportee. Endika Iztueta was deported by the Spanish government to the African republic of Cape Verde 22 years ago along other 7 ETA members. There they had to confront extremely hard living conditions. They had to reinitiate their life. They became very respected members of the community. Endika died after he was beaten up by thieves last Thursday. The circumstances are still unclear.

Before his body was sent to the Basque Country coworkers at the local hospital, friends and Cape Verde ministers and politicians paid an emotional tribute to him.

300 people gathered at his home town near Bilbao and remembered his courage and sacrifice in favour of the freedom of the Basque Country.

Askatasuna accused the Spanish government of the situation deportees have to endure and called the Basque people to welcome Endika when he will arrive to his home land in the next couple of days.

-350 people demonstrated in Tolosa to support local political prisoner Peio Odriozola as he entered his 20th year in prison.

Other towns across the Basque Country saw the weekly picket lines and vigiles in favour of the 700 Basque political prisoners.

ARRESTS / Trials

-The Spanish police arrested 8 young people last week in a very similar operations as the previous 4 arrests that have taken place in the last 6 months. They were immediately accused of taking part in riots and attacks against Spanish economic targets. Later the Spanish Home minister accused them of being members of Segi and were sent to prison. The young people told their relatives they were tortured while incommunicado.

This new operation was dennounced by Batasuna, Askatasuna and Segi as part of the war strategy waged by the Spanish government to impose the Constitution and put obstacles on the way to independence.

Hundreds of people turned to the streets of the coastal towns where the arrests happened and secondary schools organised strikes and picket lines. The protests repeated daily.

8 of the Basque Nationalist Party’s offices in the province of Biscay were attacked with paint and slogans were written accusing this party of collaboration and torture.

3 banks were attacked by petrol bombs in Ondarroa as well.

-14 young people were judged at the Spanish Special National Court accused of taking part in street fight or sabotages and attacks against police and Spanish economic targets during 2000. The only evidence produced by the police are the statements they got from the accused while arrested and tortured. The public prosecution has asked for up to 5 years of prison for each of them.

Different organizations such as the parents against repression group Gurasoak and the youth movement Segi dennounced this show trial and called mobilizations in towns around Bilbao gathering hundreds of people.

-During the last week hundreds of Spanish military police Guardia Civil have been seen in many towns and mountains around the Basque Country setting check points, patroling and interrogating people. Askatasuna denounced this stressing situation.

-Eneko Galarraga was arrested by French police in the north of the Basque Country and sent to prison while he waits to be extradited to Spain. The Spanish National Special Court released a euro warrant against him. Askatasuna denounced the situation in which hundreds of Basque political exiles live and said the French government follows the same repression strategy as the Spanish. A rally was called in Eneko’s home town to show him support.

-Ziortza Fernandez was arrested by Spanish police to fulfill a 5 year prison sentence. 180 people protested hours later in her home town.

-A new case of political espionage was discovered last week. Mikel Fernandez found a device attached to his car just by pure chance when a neighbour told him smoke was coming out of it.

At a press conference an Askatasuna spokesperson denounced these illegal practices as part of the general war strategy of the Spanish government. According to Askatasuna this is nothing new and called the media and politicians to end their silence around these issues.

- French president Nicolas Sarkozy has accused ETA of being assassins and racists.
In A visit to French Gendarmerie in Pau, Sarkozy referred to an incident that happened with Basque farmers and the French police. Local farmers are opposing to sell a farm to a French company and want to allocate it to local couple who are willing to open a social economy business.
Sarkozy has used this administrative difference, to mix it with ETA and call Basque people racist.

Batasuna and the Basque farmer’s trade union have protested against Zarkosy’s words and have made it clear that the pro independence movement want to build a plural Basque country where all identities will have their place including the Basque one.

The Farmers trade union has also accused Sarkozy of mixing farming issues with other political incidents that have no link with it.

- In the northern part of the Basque Country, Young people get together to launch a new dynamic in favour of autonomy.

Young people from the 3 Northern provinces have created a new initiative to demand autonomy as a way to confront problems encountered by young people on a daily basis.

At the launch of the initiative last Sunday, they made it clear that they do not belong to any political party or any youth squat. According to them, it is a personal commitment they have taken to deal with issues of concern.
The areas of work will be, the Basque language, land and accommodation for young people, public services and students.

-The Council of Europe denounced the so called black lists against “terrorism”. These lists are an attack on the people’s and social and political organizations rights. Several Basque pro-independence individuals and groups have been included in that list by the Spanish government.

23 January 2008



Headlines :

The Basque Nationalist Action party highlights that the Basque Country is suffering from a lack of democracy.

Fraud and repression for the Basque Country. This is the evaluation of Batasuna around the 4 years of Jose Luis Zapatero’s government.

A new testimony of brutal torture. Mattin Sarasola tells his 5 days of arrest under the Spanish Civil Guard.

-The Basque Nationalist Action party highlights that the Basque Country is suffering from a lack of democracy.

The Basque Nationalist Action party, the remaining pro-independence party, wonders when will the repressive measures of the Spanish Labour Party PSOE stop.

ANV who fought against the Dictatorship alongisde the Spanish Party PSOE during the Second Republic period.
ANV has highlighted that the Basque Country is suffering from a lack of democracy.

One of the examples of it, is the measures the Spanish authorities will be taking against the Mayoress of the small town of Hernani. At the rally in Iruna/Pamplona two weekends ago, Marian Beitialarrangoitia expressed solidarity with Basque political prisoners and with the Basques who have recently been brutally tortured.
Following that the Spanish authorities have opened a case against her.

Over 700 prisoners, the imprisonment of members of social, political and cultural groups, tortures etc. are the proof of a lack of democracy in the Basque Country according to the ANV Party. The pro-independence party has also accused the Basque Nationalist Party PNV of cooperating with the Spanish authorties by not saying anything about the current political situation.

The Spanish General Prosecution service has also stated that it has now gathered enough evidence to illegalise the ANV party. And this is likely to take place in the near future.
Following this, the ANV party has stated clearly that no one will stop them from taking part in the next general elections on the 9th of March.

ANV has presented the 8 candidates who will stand at the Spanish Congress and Senate election next March. They said they will stand at the elections to state that the Basque Country is a nation and that it is time to break the ties with Spain.

ANV has been actually been very busy in the last couple of weeks presenting their election manifesto in towns, villages, schools, faculties, factories… all around the country. They have organised meetings, assemblies, events, press conferences, recorded videos…etc. to mobilise the grassroots of the party and to reach as many people as possible in favour of independence. The slogan of the campaign is “We, the Basque nation, independence”.

- Fraud and repression for the Basque Country. This is the evaluation of Batasuna around the 4 years of Jose Luis Zapatero’s government.

The pro-independence movement has made an evaluation of the four year-government of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero. At a very busy press conference last week pro-independence spokespeople Pernando Barrena and Eusebio Lasa summarized it in two words: fraude and repression for the Basque Country. They said Zapatero will be remenbered as another Spanish prime minister who destroyed a great opportunity to resolve the political conflict.

They accused the Spanish government of lying about what happened during the political negotiation process. When asked about the future, Pernando Barrena said that the Spanish government is involved in the final assault against the pro-independence movement and that even more repression will come in the near future.

-A new testimony of brutal torture. Mattin Sarasola tells his 5 days of arrest under the Spanish Civil Guard.“They made me walk down a path, and they simulated that they were executing me. They told me that they were going to do what they did to Zabalza”. This is the new testimony of torture from Mattin Sarasola.

Last week we heard Igor Portu’s testimony of torture. Igor and Mattin were both arrested two weeks ago by the Spanish police. Igor ended up in the Intensive Care Unit of Donosti/San Sebastian’s hospital after being brutally tortured.
This week Mattin tells what the Spanish police did to him with total impunity.
Even Spanish Judge Grande Marlasca has acknowledged that there are too many coincidences and similar stories in the two men’s testimonies.

Both men reject the version of the police which says that they were arrested at a check point and that they resisted being arrested. This is what the official version says. The two men say that they were pushed down a mountain path in which they were tortured. In both cases they talk about simulating the execution of one of them. They also mention being tortured in the river.

The Spanish Civil Guard told Mattin that they would do to him what they did to Mikel Zabalza in 1985. Mikel Zabalza was a Basque citizen killed by the Spanish police through torture. Zabalza was found dead in a river

Mattin Sarasola also says that he was hit over and over again. Heavy blows in the chest, they put a bag over his head to suffocate him and forced him to do physical exercise. This provoked anxiety attacks and asthma. When transferred to Madrid, an agent who was wearing a glove kept pulling his testicles over and over again. He was also threatened with electro shocks and the bath.

The group against torture TAT, has accused the Spanish Special Court of leaking fake medical reports to the Spanish media. A doctor attached to the Special Court has released a report denying any ill treatment and torture suffered by the two Basque citizens.

Following these events, hundreds of Basques have demanded the end of torture in Irunea/Pamplona and Lesaka.
In both towns, hundreds of people gathered to protest against the brutality and the strategy of repression designed by the Spanish government.

-Udalbiltza case acussed citizens get wide support.

Those accused of being members of Udalbiltza, the first and only Basque national institution, have begun a round of meetings to gather support before their trial starts.

Udalbiltza was created in 1999 by more than 600 councillors from different political parties of the seven provinces of the Basque Country. Udalbiltza aims to develop national plans to build and defend the Basque Country in all crucial areas such as economy, culture and education.

The Spanish government arrested and imprisoned the national executive of Udalbiltza and banned it. Now it wants to judge its members in a new political trial.

National and local meeting are being held with councillors and social organizations and trade unions to organise a response to the trial and at the to boost Udalbiltza’s work.

-New platform in favour of self-determination formed.

Several high profile Basque people from the cultural and social sector in the Basque Country presented on Friday a manifesto claiming the right to decide and "to open the path of peace and normalization."
The platform "Erabaki" (To Decide) aims to build the "capacity to decide our future as a society and as a nation."
The official manifesto has been presented under the name of We want to decide and we shall decide!
The platform looks for support through a web site and has called a rally in favour of the right to decide at the Kursaal Conference Centre in Donostia-San Sebastian next February 10th.
According to the manifesto "all Basques have the right to be consulted on the problems they are concerned about and have the right to decide freely of their own future".
"The Basque Country, one of the oldest countries in Europe, has the right to decide freely of its own future in accordance with the right to self-determination".


Jorge Etxebarria was arrested in Gernika to serve a three year prison sentence. 250 people marched hours after his arrest to show their support. Gorka Gonzalez was arrested in Gasteiz/Vitoria and taken to the Spanish Special Court. 450 people demonstrated the next day against the arrest. Three young people were arrested in Irunea/Pamplona accused of painting slogans against the Spanish Labour party.


- Four prisoners imprisoned as part of the 18/98 macro trial have been put in isolation.

As mentioned in previous Basque Infos, the members of the 18/98 show trial have been imprisoned and dispersed to different prisons all over Spain far from the Basque Country.

In addition to dispersing them, the Spanish authorities have now started putting these prisoners in complete isolation where they are not entitled to mix with other prisoners.

That is the case for, Karlos Trenor, Xabier Balantzategi, Ruben Nieto and Txente Askasibar.

Also, prisoner Aner Mimenza and Borxa Urberuaga are still being kept isolated. Last December the General Director of the Spanish Jail System prison Mercedes Gallizo, made a visit to the jail of Soto del Real, near Madrid. The two prisoners took the opportunity to stage a protest and following that, they have been put in isolation.

In the Spanish prison of Daroca, Basque prisoners are continuing with their protest. They are refusing to get out of their cells. The prisoners have been protesting since the 7th of January, as one of their colleagues was put in isolation.

- Prisoner Ion Agirre has been once again refused freedom. Ion Agirre has been in prison for 26 years and suffers from serious illness.

Ion is 64 and suffers from diabetes, atheritis, poor eyesight and has a high risk of suffering from a serious heart condition. But the Spanish authorities are refusing to release him even though he has completed his full sentence.

He should have been reelased in 2006. But with recent legislation changes, the court has extended his sentence till 2011.

There are 12 other prisoners, like Ion who are suffering from chronic and terminall illnesses, but the Spanish authorities are refusing to release them.

-40 people from Erandio, near Bilbao, traveled to the Alicante prison, south of Spain. They travelled to support political prisoner Jon Bilbao who is at hundreds of miles from the Basque Country . He has been kept in jail for 26 years. Under Spanish law he should have been released after serving all his sentence but Spanish authorities are refusing to free free him. As his supporters denounced he’s a political hostage. After rallying outside the jail they presented the director of Alicante prison with 1,000 signatures in favour of Jon’s release.

-Another 50 people from the Basque northern village of Donibane-Garazi/St.Jéan-de-Pied-de-Port traveled to the French prisons of Poitiers and Angouleme at hundreds of miles from the Basque Country to show their solidarity with two local political prisoners. They rallied outside and played traditional music. One of the prisoners could be seen waving a Basque flag through the cell bars.

-Basque political prisoner Fernando Etxegarai was welcomed in his hometown of Plentzia after 20 years in jail.

-Hundreds of people gathered on Friday evening in over 20 towns in vigils in support political prisoners support.


-40 people gathered in Alonsotegi, near Bilbao to remember the local Aldana bar massacre 28 years ago. 4 people were killed by the pro-Spanish death squad GAL. The speakers pointed out that the four were killed for being Basque. They were very critical of the fact that after so many years most of the political parties have forgotten what happened at that time. They also denounced the fact that the Spanish state has never investigated the killings.

-100 people remembered Karlos Saldise in the coastal town of Lezo killed by the pro-Spanish death squads 28 years ago.

15 January 2008


BASQUE INFO NEWS BULLETIN from 9th January to 15th January 2008

Main news headlines:

-Two Basque activists brutally tortured by Spanish police.

-Thousands gather at a pro-independence rally.

-Zapatero warns of banning the ANV party.

-Two Basque activists brutally tortured by Spanish police.

The 2 young people arrested by the Spanish Guardia Civil last week have denounced being brutally tortured.

Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola were arrested last Monday in the town of Arrasate. They were immediately kept incommunicado.

2 days after their arrest and as mentioned in last week’s basque info, Igor Portu was transferred urgently to the intensive unit of the hospital in Donostia San Sebastian, with broken ribs a perforated lung, hemorrages and serious bruises. Despite is serious injuries the judge kept him incommunicado and his parents were not allowed to see him.

Mattin sarasola, was also kept incommunicado for 5 days in which he suffered brutal tortures.

Both men have denounced being heavily tortured from the moment they were arrested. They confirmed that the incommunication period was extremely hard.
These are a few of their comments :

“they put a bag over my head”
“I was brought to a small river, my hands were tied and they kept threatening me that they would throw me into the water”. They forced my head into the water over and over again, I swallowed lots and lots of water.”
“They kept hiting me all over”, They kept hitting me on the ribs and chest”
“They kept coming and going, screaming and shouting”
“They forced me to do set ups”.
“They wrapped me with 2 blankets and sat on top of me presurising me.
“They threatened me. They said that if I mentioned any of this I would have to take responsibility for the consequences.

These are a few of the comments the two men have made.

Igor and mattin have been accused of the car bomb attack against the airport in Madrid in december 2006. They are also accused of killing 2 people who were cought in the explosion as well as other attacks.


As it is usual in cases of torture the Spanish authorities have refused any brutal treatment.

When Igor Portu was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, The Spanish government said that his injuries happened during the arrest. According to the version of the Spanish authorities, the 2 men resisted being arrested and the police had to use force to arrest them. That’s why Igor had injuries.

Interior Minister Antonio Rubalcaba and Jose Luis Zapatero President of the government showed their full confidence in the Spanish police force.

However, a judicial declaration from an eye witness contradicted the Spanish version. According to the witness, the 2 men didn’t show any resistence at the moment of the arrest and does not justify the injuries suffered by both men. This shows that the Spanish government at its highest level has been lying.

Even the Spanish media who is reluctant to talk about any type of torture against Basques has aknowledged that Igor and Mattin were treated in a scandalous way by the Spanish police.

The parents of the two men also had a chance yesterday to see their sons for the first time in jail. Although in high spirits, the relatives confirmed that the two accused were presenting bruises and injuries.

The two men have also told the Judge Grande Marlaska identical stories while separated and incommunicado. The judge has been forced to acknowledge that Mattin and Igor were ill treated and has ordered an investigation.

However little is expected to come out from this investigation. To date at least 33 police officers who have been condemned for torture have been pardoned and haven’t completed their sentence. This is since the 90’s.


Nekane Erauskin the Member of the Basque autonomous government for the pro-independence movement has accused the Spanish labour party PSOE of lying. She has accused the Spanish government of trying to cover the torture suffered by Igor and Mattin. But it has been impossible to hide it all. The order for an investigation giver by the Spanish judge has unable any effort of the Spanish labour and conservative parties to cover the truth.

Pernando Barrena spokesperson for Batasuna also said that the behaviour of the Spanish government reminds him of the GAL period, in which Spanish mercenaries killed Basque citizens with total impunity. Barrena remembers that during the GAL period the Spanish governement aknowledged making a mistake by knowing about GAL and by not doing anything about it. This week’s events are the same according to Barrena. Many Basque citizens have been tortured, however in this case the medical report was made public from the beginning.

The pro-independence movement has also made clear that the injuries suffered by Igor and Mattin are part of a war strategy which the Spanish government is carrying out to stop change in the Basque country. However the pro-independence movement has also made it clear that there is no going back and that the democratic framework needs to be implemented.
The 2 main trade unions LAB and ELA have been calling on people to rally daily in front of the hospital where Igor was looked after.
Neighbours from Lesaka home town of Igor and Mattin also took to the streets last Thursday to demand the end of the antiterrorist legislation.

-Thousands gather at a pro-independence rally.

5,000 people and dozens of journalists filled up the Anaitasuna Arena in Irunea/Pamplona last Saturday. The rally was organised by the still legal pro-independence party ANV, Basque Nationalist Party.

Speakers clearly defended the way to independence and the right to decide on the creation of a Basque state. Dancers, videos and live music helped to warm up an already hot atmosphere with slogans in favour of independence and in support of prisoners. Political representatives from Scotland and Flanders showed their support and got a big round of applause.

The Mayoress from the town of Hernani also remembered Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola tortured last week by the Spanish police. Yesterday, the Spanish General Prosecutor opened an indictment against her for supporting the two tortured.

There were calls to organise in every neighbourhood and town in the Basque Country to confront the Spanish and French repressive wave and the audience was warned of more attacks in the near future.

The main candidates who will be standing at the next Spanish general elections in March came up to the stage. They said that, above all obstacles, bannings and repression the ANV party will be present at the elections. They added that the 200,000 votes gathered in the last polls give them the legitimacy to stand at elections and that they are the only political party with a left-wing agenda who pushes for real change.

The successful rally concluded with the singing of the Basque soldier’s song and the Internazionale.

-Zapatero warns of banning the ANV party.

Once again the Spanish authorities have made statements announcing that soon measures they will be taken againts the still legal pro-independence party ANV, Basque Nationalist Action.

The Spanish President Jose Luis Zapatero said that police have been investigating the ANV party for months ANV and that soon all the information gathered will be on the judges hands. The General Prosecutor has said that we will be asking for the banning of ANV.

The Spanish general elections are due on the 9th of March and the offensive against the Basque pro-independence movement continues growing.

-A left-wing nationalist coalition, will stand at the local elections next March in the north of the Basque Country.
Among them will be Batasuna which is still legal in the French occupied Basque Country.

One hundred pro-independence activists attended a press conference last week where the candidates were introduced. Their slogan: The Basque Country: Our strength. Their goal: to achieve more than the 10% they got at the last elections.

- A new political trial is about to start. 22 people will be judged for their involment in Udalbiltza. Udalbiltza is the first Basque national institution and was created in 1999. This institution was formed by more than 600 councillors from different political parties and from the seven Basque provinces. It aims to rebuild the Basque Country after centuries of attacks on its unique culture, language, economy, education…etc.

The Spanish government declared Udalbiltza illegal and now pretends to charge its executive members of with membership of an armed organisation.

Different political representatives from the north of the Basque Country held a press conference last week to support the accused. They said that this is an attack against the right to defend and build the Basque Country.

-The 18/98 show trial case where more than 40 political, social and labour activists were condemned to prison sentences of up to 22 years has broken all limits, according to the denfense lawyers.

At the press conference held by the lawyers, they warned of the new doctrine set by the Spanish Special Court. According to them after the 18/98 case trial now everything has become ETA and ETA is everything. The only crime the 48 accused have committed is being political and social activists in political and social organizations.

Now a judge has decided these organizations are terrorists so their members are terrorists even if they didn’t know it. Now anyone can be a terrorist without actually having done any kind of violent attack.

Dozens of lawyers attended the conference held at the Bizkaia province’s Official Lawyers College and expressed their support in front of such an unprecedented attack on law principles.

-Spanish and French Prime Ministers meet.

Jose Luis Zapatero and Nicolas Sarkozy met last week to sign an agreement that had been anounced at the EU-Africa summit. They will create joint special police units to fight against ETA. At this mere propagandistic summit both Prime Ministers refused to talk about the last cases of torture of the two young Basques even though it was the main news in Spanish media.

On prisoners news…

- The Sheffield 3 are flown from London to Madrid.

Last Wednesday Scotlad Yard extradited the 3 Basques jailed in London.

Inigo Albisu, Ana Lopez and Zigor Ruiz were arrested last April in Sheffield and are accused of being members of ETA.

Following an extradition request from the Spanish authorities, the Sheffield 3 are now held in the Spanish jail of Soto del Real in Madrid.

-Basque political prisoners relatives
were denied visits and the mother of two prisoners had to be taken to hospital after being harrassed by jail guards.

-Another political prisoner has seen his sentence extended.
Pakito Lujanbio should have been released last 30th of December after 23 years in prison. But Spanish authorities have decided extend his time until 2014. The prisoners support organization Askatasuna denounced this situation and remebered all the prisoners who are being kept against what the Spanish law states. The serious situation of ill prisoners is to be particularly mentioned.

-Dozens of towns and villages all across the Basque Country saw prisoners support picket lines last week. A bus went to Alicante’s jail at hundreds of miles from the Basque Country where Jon Bilbao has fullfilled already 26 years in prison.

-Hundreds of people took part in the annual Solidarity Day celebrated in the north of the Basque Country last weekend. This year’s slogan was “From contempt to recognition”. 400 people attended the dinner served before the rally. And hundreds more joined the rally. A video where a brief journey through the struggle since the 70’s was screened and two volunteers who died recently and a prisoner’s relative killed on her way to a visit were remembered.

An Askatasuna representative said that even though the French and Spanish states make the Basque pro-independece movement suffer at the will eventually have to accept that the Basque Country has rights. The spokesperson said that dignity, solidarity and resistance are the values that keep the struggle alive.

10 January 2008


Main news from 24th December to 8th January

-Basque newspaper Gara interviews ETA.
-Two young people are taken to hospital after being tortured by the police.
-Spanish authorities ban a new public event organised in favour of amnesty and freedom.
-Thousands demonstrate in favour of the right of Basque national sport teams to play in international competitions.

-Basque newspaper Gara interviews ETA.

In the interview the armed organization calls citizens and organizations to start building the Basque state. ETA says the Basque Country needs such structures as any other nation does in order to survive. ETA acknowledges that this will take some time and that there will be different phases. The first one will come out of the recognition of the Basque Country as a nation with the right to self-determination. From this democratic framework a new situation will develop making way to an independent state.

Asked about last year’s developments since the end of the negotiation process ETA says that the Spanish and French states went back to old recipes. “They haven’t learned from the past” ETA adds. “As long as the Basque Country’s rights are denied resistance will continue.”

ETA says the repression estrategy aims to weaken the pro-independence movement in order to bring them to a technical negotiation process.

ETA warns of some dirty war tactics used by the Spanish state and says that they will confront and respond to it.

-ETA claims attacks.

The armed organisation ETA has claimed responsibility for the 2 attacks that took place on the 16th and 24th December 2007. The attacks provoqued material damages against a court in Sestao near Bilbao and against the office of the PSOE Spanish labour party in Salamanca Spain.
In a statement published on 1st of January ETA says that the Spanish governement has established a situation of exception which looks to destroy Basque independence and is strengthening State terrorism.

Basque citizens are tortured with total impunity in police stations of the Civil Guard, they are subjected to attacks such as the bag, the bath and are raped by introducing sticks through the anus. Any measure is valid against ETA.
ETA also mentioned the death of Natividad Junko who died in a car accident while she was going to see her son in law in jail. The armed organisation mentions the hardening of the dispersal policy and the refusal to release chronically ill prisoners. The Spanish governement has decided to extend the conflict.
ETA also mentions the usual condemnations and threats of the Spanish government and has also very hard words for the Basque local government which colludes with the Spanish government and protects the perpetuation of torture and traitury.

-Two young people are taken to hospital after being tortured by the police.

Last Sunday Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola were arrested at a checkpoint near the Basque town of Arrasate by the Spanish Guardia Civil police. They were accused of being members of ETA. Just 16 hours after their arrest Igor was transfered to the intensive care unit in Donosti / San Sebastián. The reason: Two ribs broken, a perforated lung, haemorrhages on the left eye and bruises all over the body.
Today some information was leaked to the media saying that the other arrested youth has been transfered to Madrid very badly injured.
Different human rights organizations, Amnisty International among them have denounced these tortures and asked for independent investigation.
The pro-independence movement have said this is part of the war strategy launched by the Spanish state in the last months and called protests all around the Basque Country.
This morning, the pro-independence trade union LAB has rallied outside the hospital where Igor Portu is. The trade union intends to do the same every day.
Meanwhile the Spanish police have denied the evidence of torture and have said that they found two arms dumps owned by ETA.

-Thousands demonstrate in favour of the right of Basque national sport teams to play in international competitions.
25,000 people demonstrated in Bilbao on Saturday 29th of December, to demand the right to have Basques be national sports teams, and to be allowed to compete in international competitions.
This right is currently denied by Spanish and French states which force Basque sports men and women to play with their so-called national teams.

The march was called by the platform in favour of official Basque sports teams ESAIT, and was led by a group of children carrying the national flag. The leading banner read – Euskal Herria/basque country, a nation, a team.

Top Basque sportsmen and women took part in the demonstration, including Kepa Acero the surfer, rugby player Aratz Gallastegi and Joseba Garmendia, a football player with Athletic de Bilbao.

This rally has been one of the most successful events in the campaign for the recognition Basque national teams.

-Spanish authorities ban a new public event organised in favour of amnesty and freedom.

Once again, a public event in favour of amnesty and freedom has been banned by the Spanish authorities. The event was supposed to take place in Donostia San sebastian, but a few hours before the start of the rally Spanish authorities decided to bann it.
The rally was called by dozens of public figures of the sport and cultural sector.
The Basque Spanish police prevented people from getting close to the venue where the rally was supposed to take place.

As an alternative Basque citizens decided to demontsrate in the streets of Donostia San sebastian. Tens of thousands of people took part in the demonstration with the heavy presence of the Basque Spanish police.

At the end of the demontration the police charged against the crowd with plastic bullets. The police also arrested the owner of a bar who refused to let the police in.

-A Basque prisoner is attacked by another prisoner in a Spanish jail.

Basque prisoner Kepa Solana has been injured in an attack in Puerto 1 jail in cadiz Spain.
The prisoner’s relatives have denounced the attack that took place on new years eve. He was attacked by another prisoner.
The attacker stuck a sharp piece of wood in Kepa’s neck under his ear. He was also carrying a piece of glass on the other hand.
None of the officers tried to prevent the attack. It took the authorities 5 hours to take Kepa to a hospital in which he got 9 stiches. Doctors told him he was lucky to be alive.

-Basque political prisoners situation worsening.

Etxerat the group of relatives of prisoners has denounced the fact that prisoners rights are being undermined daily and that the situation of Basque prisoners is very serious.
12 chronically ill prisoners, prisoners who have completed their full sentence and are still in jail, isolation and dispersion have been denounced by the group in Donostia / San Sebastian.

The group has hilghligited the prisoners situation as alarming. Last week, the dispersal policy of the Spanish governement claimed another death on the roads. Natividad Junko who was on her way to see her son in law died in a car accident.

Many prisoners have also completed their sentence and are still kept kidnapped in jail. It’s the case of prisoner Gatza who has been in jail for 27 years and authorities are refusing to release him.

Isolation and dispersion are also common. In some cases prisoners are kept 20 to 22 hours a day locked in their cell. This regime has been designed to destroy prisoners physically and psychologically.

Etxerat has called on Basque citizens to mobilise against the repression suffered by prisoners. And over the Xmas period the response of basque citizens has been very positive. Protests, demonstrations in front of prisons and other events have been organised to denounce the plight of Basque prisoners.

-The dispersal policy continues against Basque political prisoners.

The dispersal policy of Basque political prisoners continues. Xabier Alegria condemned as part the macro trial 18/98 has been transferred to the new high security prison Puerto 3 in the South of Spain. He is currently held in isolation. Xabier is not the only one involved in the 18/98 trial who has been suffering the consequences of the dispersal policy. His colleague Mikel Egibar was transferred to Algeciras last Suday. His wife could not visit him due to the transfer.
Others have been transferred to other Spanish prisons at hundreds of miles from the Basque Country.

-Numerous attacks against pro-Spanish interests.

Offices of the Spanish government in Gasteiz, the Basque Nationalist Party in Zumarraga, the Spanish Conservative and the Labour parties branches in Laguardia and Irun and a train station in Hernani were attacked last week with petrol bombs. Another attack against the vehicle of a prison officer was claimed as a protest for the dispersal policy implemented against Basque political prisoners. This caused the death of a relative last week.

- A book about ETA’s history has been launched.

2008 will mark the 50th anniversary of the birth of the pro-independence armed organization ETA, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (Basque Country and Freedom).
In order to have a broader pespective around this political and militar movement a book was launched last week by hte publisher Txalaparta. The author Iker Casanova couldn’t be present at the launch as he was imprisoned last December as a result of the 18/98 show trial.