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.

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