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.

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