13 February 2008


Basque Info 12th February 2008

Headlines :

Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon bans the two remaining pro-independence parties ANV and EHAK.

Spanish police arrest 14 prominent members of Batasuna.

Basque pro-independence parties call for a general strike on February 14th to denounce the state of exception.


-Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon bans the two remaining pro-independence parties ANV and EHAK.

Last Friday, judge Garzon ordered police authorities to shut down the offices of the remaining legal parties ANV, the Basque Nationalist Action party and EHAK The Communist Party of the Basque Lands. The two parties will be banned for 3 years. Their bank accounts have been frozen. They are also banned from standing in the next general elections that will take place on the 9th of March.

Judge Baltasar Garzon of the Spanish High Court accused the two parties, the Basque Nationalist Action party and the Communist party of the Basque Country of being inked to Batasuna.

Batasuna was declared illegal in 2003 and is banned from standing candidates in elections, the judge's ruling means that no Basque left-wing pro-independence party will be represented in the March 9 election.

The Supreme Court has also been presented with separate lawsuits from Spanish prosecutors to completely outlaw these two parties.

In 2003, the Supreme Court outlawed Batasuna on the grounds that it was part of ETA. To get around it Batasuna resurrected two small parties and had candidates standing for these 2 parties.

The Communist Party of the Basque Lands, EHAK, won nine seats in the 75-member Basque regional parliament in 2005.

Basque Nationalist Action Party, took part in municipal elections last year. Though half of its candidates were banned over alleged links to Batasuna, those remaining won 437 seats in towns and villages throughout the Basque Country.

This time around the Spanish judge is making sure that no left wing pro-independence party stands in the March elections.

The majority of Basque political parties and trade unions denounced this new attack.

Batasuna said that if the Spanish state takes everything as a “terrorist” act then Spain has a big problem. Batasuna repited once again that it is impossible to ban 15-20% of the population. If there was ever any doubt about the democratic character of the Spanish State, it is now obvious that it is a complete farce according to Batasuna.

Batasuna spokesperson and former member of the European Parliament Karmelo Landa told a local newspaper, a few hours before getting arrested that the best way to overcome these attacks is by multiplying political work. He said that despite the pro-independence movement spokespeople being arrested hundreds more come up at a local level, in universities, factories, etc. Landa said that at this stage the Spanish state can’t deny the existence of the Basque Country as a nation and the right of its people to decide about their future. This is a victory they try to destroy by using repression.

Landa was just back from Brussels where he met European politicians who were astonished at the terrible political developments in the Basque Country.

-National demonstration banned and attacked.

In response to the banning of the 2 remaining pro-independence parties, thousands of people took to the streets in Bilbao on Sunday. The demonstration was attacked by the Basque-Spanish police and riots spread all around Bilbao for many hours. At least three people were taken to hospital and another four were arrested.

-Saturday night also saw numerous attacks against banks and pro-Spanish political parties offices all around the south of the Basque Country as a protest against the arrests and bannings.

Spanish police arrested yesterday 14 prominent members of Batasuna.

Among the arrested were Karmelo Landa former Member of the European Parliament and Eusebio Lasa, Batasuna’s spokesperson.

The arrests happened yesterday morning. Most of the arrests were ordered by the leading anti-terrorist Judge Baltasar Garzon.

Garzon argues that the arrested were to become the new executive of the outlawed party Batasuna. Batasuna, was outlawed by the Supreme Court in 2003 on the grounds that it is part of the armed group ETA.

Police searched the houses of Karmelo Landa and Mikel Etxaburu, arrested in Bilbao, and seized several computers. According to the Basque public media, police also searched several houses in other Basque towns.

Protests were organised inmediately in hundreds of towns all accross the Basque Country : picket lines, road blockades, protests at local council meetings, press conferences, demonstrations...etc. These are happening on a daily basis.

-French attack in the north to criminalize pro-independence movement.

Basque and Occitane pro-independence activists Txetx Etxeberri and Jacques Morio were arrested by the French police last week for their alleged relation with ETA. Political parties and trade unions denounced the arrests as political and linked them with the local elections to be held on the 9th of March. Both are very well known activists in their countries. It appears to be clear that the French government want to criminalize and intimidate pro-independence candidates.

200 people took part in a rally in the northern Basque town of Baiona to protest against the arrests.

Etxeberri and Morio were finally released three days after without charges.

-Basque pro-independence parties call for a general strike on February 14th, to denounce the state of exception.

Mikel Etxaburu and Karmele Aierbe from the banned party Batasuna have explained that the objective is to protest against the state of exception imposed by the Spanish government and to denounce the "judicial, political and police repression" and to say "yes to the democratic framework and freedom".

Last night, Basque pro-independence parties called for a ‘general strike’ for the 14th of February which is next Thursday.

In a press conference that took place in Bilbao, members from the outlawed Basque party Batasuna Karmele Aierbe and Mikel Etxaburu read a statement, in which they called "all Basque citizens" to back the rally.

The objective of this call is to give an answer to the "never-ending attack and aggression" that Basque left parties are suffering, among them are, the imprisonment of the leader of Batasuna Arnaldo Otegi, the 18/98 show trial, brutal torture against Basques such as Igor Portu who was arrested in January, the dispersal of prisoners and the judicial measures against the ANV and EHAK.

The 2 Batasuna members, also mentioned the incidents that took place in Bilbao and criticized the attitude of the Basque Spanish police. They described it as the "The Basque Nationalist party’s political police", which they accused of acting "in defence of the Spanish constitutional frame".

-Irish Basque Committees call solidarity protests on the 23rd of February in Derry, Dublin, Belfast and Cork. More details coming soon.

-Batasuna members, Pernando Barrena and Patxi Urrutia were sent to jail for not giving up politics.

4 political events, 10 press conferences and 13 interviews are the elements used by judge Baltasar Garzon to jail Pernando Barrena our monthly guest to Basque info and Patxi urrutia.
The two Batasuna members were arrested last Tuesday, following a previous press conference they gave.
In the press conference the Batasuna members talked about the attitude of the Spanish government during the negotiations and of the detail of the negotiation that took place in 2006 during ETA’s Ceasefire. At the press conference they detailed the conflict resolution proposal for a democratic framework based around the acknowledgment of the Basque Country and self determination.
But the Spanish Labour party and the Basque Nationalist Party left the negotiations.
According to Batasuna, the 2 members were sent to jail so that the truth about the negotiations is not made public.

-ETA responds attacks.

Last Thursday night a strong bomb exploded outside the court buildings in the Basque town of Bergara. The damages were very big. This is the third time this building has been attacked in the last few months. Pro-Spanish politicians and police blamed ETA for the action. This attack has been seen as a response to the repressive offensive launched by the Spanish government lead judges against the pro-independence movement.

-18/98 trial political according to 300 international lawyers.

300 lawyers and law professors who acted as observers at the 18/98 show trial last year denounced the political character of the trial last week. At a press conference held in Barcelona members of different European and international lawyers associations launched a document highlighting the conclusions they all reached after the end of the trial. As we have informed previously 42 well known political, social and union activists were sentenced to up to 22 years in prison for their public and peaceful activities by the Spanish Special Court.

The lawyers said the sentence is against the basics of a democratic state. They added that the Special Court is a tribunal of exception, where the basic standards for a fair trail are not met and the rights of the defence can not be ensured.

As one of the German lawyers who acted as an observer during the trial pointed out: “I saw trials without evidences before but never a trial without crime as this is the case.”

-Dozens of people protested against Spanish prime minister Zapatero’s visit to Donostia/San Sebastian last Saturday. They were immediately attacked by the Basque-Spanish police. Batasuna denounced that Zapatero came to the Basque Country like Bush to Iraq, protected by police and military forces. According to Batasuna occupation, repression and partition are the only things Zapatero offers to Basques.

- Three people were hospitalised following a police attack against a welcoming event of a Basque political prisoner. The attack happened near Bilbao following the homecoming of prisoner Lander Fernandez.
Lander was released from a French prison on January 22nd after being in prison for 4 years.

400 people took part in the event that the Basque-Spanish police attacked.

-30 years ago the Spanish police attacked the popular San Fermines festival in Irunea/Pamplona killing one young man and injuring hundreds. Riots spread around the city for a couple of days after the Spanish police broke into the local arena where thousands of people attended the bulls fight. The excuse used by the police to launch this planned attack was the exhibition of banners in favour of amnesty for the Basque political prisoners.

30 years on a platform has been formed and dozens of events will be held to remember those attacks against the entire population of Irunea/Pamplona in the next months up until the 8th of July.

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