20 February 2008

SUCCESFUL GENERAL STRIKE AGAINST REPRESSION AND FOR DEMOCRACY


Basque Info 19th of February

Headlines :

-Successful general strike against repression and in favour of democracy in the Basque Country.

-Batasuna’s national executive calls the Basque people to organize and develop the political work and initiatives.

-11 of the 14 members of Batasuna arrested last week have been imprisoned.

___________________________________________________________

-Succesful general strike against repression and in favour of democracy in the Basque Country.



Thousands of people took to the streets last Thursday during the general strike called by the pro-independence movement. This exceptional call came as a response to the brutal repressive offensive launched by the Spanish government in the last couple of months. Dozens of activists have been arrested, imprisoned and sentenced to up to 22 years in prison for their political work in favour of the self-determination right for the Basque Country. Two political parties have also been banned.

The pro-independence movement has seen it’s offices, social centres closed down and bank accounts frozen and their leaderships have been arrested twice in the last few months.
But the pro-independence movement continues to respond with strength.

40,000 people took part in demonstrations and refused to go to work all around the country. And this despite the pressures from local governments, media, police and employers.

20 people were arrested and 25 were taken to hospital after being injured by the police during demonstrations. Road blockades, barricades, trains stopped, buses burnt, rallies…etc. were organised in every corner of the Basque Country.



There is no doubt that this is a unique show of strength in the European context from a revolutionary movement.

Different speakers at the end of demonstrations emphasized the need for a democratic framework for the Basque Country, the end of repression and denounced the state of exception impossed by the Spanish government.

Although difficult to summarise all the events of last Thursday, it is clear that it was another historical day and a step forward to overcome the difficult situation. It showed the Spanish government that there is no possible defeat of the pro-independence movement. Only dialogue, negotiation and acceptance of the Basque citizens decisions on their future are the way to achieve a lasting resolution to the conflict.

-Batasuna’s national executive calls the Basque people to organize and develop the political work and initiatives.



The leadership of the pro-independence political party Batasuna has given its view on the last political developments. Batasuna was banned two years ago and 22 members of its leadership were imprisoned last October and another 14 two weeks ago.

In this special statement Batasuna recognises the damage suffered after these attacks but highlights that they have been able to reorganise after each offensive.

Although the situation is hard, according to Batasuna nowadays there is a historical opportunity to achieve a democratic scenario. There are now only two options: To continue as prisoners within the jail of the Spanish Constitution or to open the doors to a democratic situation where independence will be possible. Batasuna says that they are ready to continue towards the second scenario along with other people.

Batasuna believes that it is essential to continue working in cities, towns and neighbourhoods because through work and struggle the pro-independece movement will be able to bring the Basque Country to independence.

-11 of the 14 members of Batasuna arrested last week have been imprisoned.



As we informed last week the Spanish government launched a new police operation against the pro-independence movement. 400 police officers arrested 14 members of Batasuna. 20 houses and four offices were searched and many documents and computers were taken. Two of the offices were closed down.

Last Thursday eleven of the arrested were sent to prison and another three were released on bails of up to 60,000 euro. All of them have been accused of trying to reorganise the leadership of Batasuna and therefore being members of ETA.

ARRESTS

- Garikoitz and Eneko Pascual, were arrested in the northern Basque town of Baiona at the Spanish Special Court’s request last Wednesday and sent to prison on the following day. Although originally from the shouthern city of Donostia/San Sebastian they had been living in Baiona since March 2007 when they had to escape from police harrasment.

The same happened to Unai Hernandez who was sentenced as the 18/98 show trial last December and was arrested on Thursday in Baiona as well.

On the following day the police lifted Mikel San Sebastian and Joseba Iturbide who went on the run after two ETA members were arrested and badly tortured last January. Along with them the couple who housed them was arrested as well. These arrests happened in the northern town of Donibane-Lohitzune/Saint-Jéan-de-Luz.

Hundreds of people protested against the arrests in their adoptive and hometowns.

Hundreds of Basques have to escape from Spanish harrasment and torture every year and many of them take refuge in the north of the Basque Country. Most of the times the French authorities prosecute them and imprison them to hand them to the Spanish authorities.


-The majority of the political parties in the parliament of the three western Basque provinces expressed their concern around the 18/98 show trial sentence last week. 40 political, social and union activists were sentenced to up to 22 years in prison for their public and peaceful work in favour of self-determination for the Basque Country.



The Communist Party of the Basque Country, the Basque Nationalist Party, Aralar, United Left and Basque Solidarity parties presented different motions to show their support to those sentenced. They criticized the attacks of the Spanish government against civil and political rights and denounced the strategy of criminalization against the pro-independence option.

The pro-Spanish conservative parties reacted wih anger to these motions and even threatened with prison to those who supported the motions.

-EPPK, the Basque Political Prisoners Collective made a public a statement last Sunday. They analyzed the political situation and called on the French and Spanish governments to do what they haven’t done yet: accept an autonomy of the three northern Basque provinces and another autonomy for the four southern provinces including the right to self-determination.



The EPPK call upon the Basque people to keep defending their rights and continue working to build a democratic situation in the Basque Country. They reminded everybody of the achievements of the last few years by saying that “we never got so far in the recognition of our rights as a nation and this will be a millestone for the future.”

The Basque political prisoners warned of the danger of a possible agreement between the Basque Nationalist Party PNV and the Spanish government which would cut off independence options and would ultimately extend the conflict for another generation.

They denounced the terrible repression the Basque Country is enduring as well as the cruel living conditions in prison. According to EPPK this is due to the firm position of the pro-independence movement and their defence of the proposal to resolve the conflict.

-60 wellknown members of the pro-independence movement from the province of Navarre held a press conference to reaffirm their intention to confront any attempt to deny the right of the Navarrese people to decide their future along with their Basque brothers and sisters. 30 years ago this Basque province was cut off from the other three southern provinces to create an autonomy under pro-Spanish forces.

Speakers at the press conference said at this very historical times once again there is a risk to leave this province out of the political process. According to the pro-independence movement some political parties are trying to reach an agreement behind the back of the Navarrese society which would make the reunification with the rest of Basque provinces impossible.

-After the negotiations between the pro-independence movement and the Spanish government broke up the Spanish Home minister held a round of meetings with the mediators who took part in the conversations. Among them there were European governments. At the astonishment of these governments the Spanish government announced the beginning of a repressive campaign against the Basque pro-independence movement and threat to make 200 arrests before the March elections in 2008.

The Spanish Home minister has achieved his goal. With last weeks arrests more than 200 people have been arrested in the last 8 months in the Basque Country and there are now 727 Basque political prisoners.

-Among the numerous initiatives held almost daily against illegalizations 30 people entered the town hall in Atarrabia, another 30 in Baranain and 20 in Sopela. They occupied the council over the weekend to denounce the Basque pro-independence political parties bannings. They were constantly harrassed by police and threatened by the mayors to be evacuated.

-27 years ago the Basque militant Joxe Arregi was tortured to death by Spanish police in Madrid. Last Sunday a mountain walk and a rally in his hometown of Zizurkil near Donostia/San Sebastian remembered him. Relatives, friends and neighbours gathered to denounce that 27 years on torture is still a normal and systematic procedure against Basques.

As Joxe Arregi was killed on the 13th of February, this day has become the Day against Torture in the Basque Country. dozens of events take place all around the Basque Country. This year once again public talks, film screenings, picket lines, plays, exhibitions…etc. were organised to raise awareness of this sistematic and terrible practice. Amnesty International has shortlisted Spain every year among the states where torture is a general practice.

-Basque Political Prisoner Bittor Tejedor was attacked by prison guards in the Canadian jail of British Columbia where he’s been held since his arrest last June.

His relatives denounced how, with the excuse of a mutiny in the next gallery, prison guards threw pepper gas into his cell and denied him medical assistance for hours. Bittor thinks all was a planned attack against him.

He is awaiting trial to be extradited to Spain.

-Two banks, one pro-Spanish Labour Party office and one bus were burnt out last Saturday night in Hernani near Donostia/San Sebastian. Petrol bombs were thrown and riots spread around the town and over night when the Basque-Spanish police arrived.

Two council vans were burnt out in Gasteiz/Vitoria.

All these attacks are claimed as a response against Spanish repression.

-Basque political prisoner Mikel Gil is on hunger strike since last Tuesday after he was denied his right to be visited by a doctor of his choice. Last year Spanish authorities refused to release Mikel despite his critical psichologycal illness. Last week he suffered a crisis his personal psicholgyst went to the prison but wasn’t allowed to get in.

Basque political prisoners support group Askatasuna denounced this situation and said that this is a sistematic denial of basic rights to Basque prisoners and has to be understood within the war strategy waged by the Spanish government to undermine the Collective and the pro-independence movement.

-In the early hours of today 6 young people were arrested by the Spanish police and houses were searched in Gasteiz/Vitoria. Another seven similar operations against the Basque pro-independence youth have taken place in the last 8 months. The Spanish government accuse them of taking part in street riots and attacks against pro-Spanish banks and offices.

We’ll give you more information on our next Basque Info edition.

-Basque pro-independence organizations and solidarity campaign groups around the world have called an International Week of Solidarity with the Basque Country this week. Different events will take place across Europe and America these days. Here in Ireland the Irish Basque Committees have organised film screenings and picket lines in Derry, Belfast, Dublin and Cork.

(More information below)

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