30 January 2008
PRESSURE AGAINST ANV INCREASES
BASQUE INFO 29TH JANUARY
-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.