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.

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