Basque Info News 26th February
- The pro-independence movement calls on Basque citizens to abstain on election day.
-Dozens of events are organised all around Europe and America during the International Week of Solidarity with the Basque Country.
-Many events are organized on the 5th anniversary of the closure of the Egunkaria newspaper.
- The pro-independence movement calls on Basque citizens to abstain on election day.
Six hours before the election campaign started spokespeople for the illegal pro-independence party ANV, Basque Nationalist Action held a press conference where they called on Basque citizens to abstain.
On the 9th of March general elections will be held in Spain. Within the broad repressive campaign launched by the Spanish government two pro-independence parties have been banned as an attempt to silence the movement.
Abstention is the only option left for pro-independence supporters. ANV spokespeople highlighted the fact that they are calling for an active abstention to rebel against the fascist and opressive Spanish state, to make political change possible and to open the doors to independence.
ANV members said that it is now time to say stop to repression, stop to the state of exception and to build a huge popular barrier against oppression and denial of rights.
The ANV representatives reminded that 30 years ago a huge opportunity for change was lost because the Spanish Labour Party and Basque Nationalist Party betrayed Basque citizens. “We are once again in a similar situation and political change is about to come. This is why any kind of new fraude has to be confronted. A democratic situation where the right to self-determination is included needs to be created.”
ANV have called on Basque people to abstain as they see this the strongest weapon available to overcome repression and fraude.
At the end of the press conference, nine people were stopped and identified by the police.
200 people held another press conference during the week to call on Basques to abstain on election day. By doing this they want to highlight that the Spanish state doesn’t have a problem wih the pro-independence movement but with the whole of the Basque nation.
They said that it’s time to respond united as a nation to defend the right to self-determination and independence as the only way to survive.
-Hundreds of young people took to the streets last week in six different towns of the Basque Country to support abstention on election day. According to the young people there is no future for Basque youths under the current political situation.
-Members of the banned pro-independence party ANV have been gathering wide support in a European tour. They have been touring Europe for the last two weeks. They visited Germany, Flanders, Norway, Danemark, Finland and Sweden. They were received officially at the German and Flemish parliaments. They met with different political parties which are in power in all these countries.
The ANV party gave media interviews and participated in public talks.
The main objective of this tour was to bring attention and raise awareness around the systematic banning of Basque pro-independence political parties.
According to ANV members during the meetings political representatives committed themselves to raise this issue in their parliaments and local councils and expressed their support to ANV.
- The North of the Basque Country is also getting ready for elections.
Citizens from the provinces of Lapurdi, Behe Nafarroa and Xiberua will be voting on the 9th of March and the 16 of March to elect their local representatives to the French General Council which is based in Pau.
Euskal Herria Bai, the coalition of Basque pro-independence parties, including Batasuna, will also present candidates for the General council.
-Dozens of events took place all around Europe and America during the International Week of Solidarity with the Basque Country.
Events such as talks, protests, dinners, gigs, signatures collection, radio programs, exhibitions… were organised in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile…
In Caracas, Venezuela Basque supporters were attacked by the local anti-Chavez police with tear gas.
In Ireland and organised by the Irish Basque Committees in Derry, Belfast, Cork and Dublin people took to the streets to show solidarity with the Basque people and to defend their right to self-determination.
In a press release the Irish Basque Commitees said:
These are hard times in the Basque Country. The Spanish and French governments respond with repression to the calls for dialogue, negotiation and recognition of the Basque Country’s right.
200 political, social and union activists have been arrested since the negotiations broke up, two political parties have been banned and hundreds of thousands of people have been left out of the next elections, peaceful demonstrations are brutally attacked, arrested people are savagely tortured, political prisoners are scattered at hundreds of miles from home…
The Irish Basque Committees want to let the Basque people know they are not alone on their struggle for democracy, rights and peace.
The Irish Basque Committees want to call upon the Dublin and Belfast governments to use their influence to persuade the Spanish and French governments to accept that Basque people have the right to decide freely their future, including independence, and to respect that decision.
- Many events are organized on the 5th anniversary of the closure of the Egunkaria newspaper.
Last Wednesday was the 5th anniversary of the closure of the Basque language newspaper Egunkaria.
The Spanish Civil Guard came to the offices of the paper and arrested many workers. During the arrest they were heavily tortured. Apart from the closure of Egunkaria other companies around the paper have also been affected.
After 5 long years, the court case is still to be heard and the 12 accused are all waiting trial.
In order to protest against the decision of the Spanish court to close the paper 5 years ago, many protests, rallies meetings and other events have been organised in towns and villages in the Basque Country.
The main rally was held near the closed offices of Egunkaria last week. Political parties, trade unions, other representatives and Basque citizens took part in a protest against the closure and in support of the accused workers.
In Catalonia protests were also organised to remember what happened 5 years ago and to demand the cancellation of the trial.
There are currently 2 different trials to be held against Egunkaria. A general case that brought the closure of the paper and an economic trial. 12 people will be tried in these 2 cases.
- Out of 730 Basque political prisoners, 169 have completed the ¾ of their sentence and 55 are being kept in complete isolation.
The political situation in the Basque Country is widely marked by the huge repressive measures of the Spanish government. In 8 months there have been 200 arrests which have been kept incommunicado. The situation in French and Spanish prisons is getting worse.
730 Basque political prisoners is one of the highest figures of prisoners in a very long time. From the beginning of this year 100 people have been arrested so far. If things continue to progress in this way this year will break all repressive records.
In 2007 only, 295 people were arrested in the Basque Country due to their pro-independence political stands.
Behind this figure hides the dramatic reality that Spanish and French authorities are trying to hide : Prisoners with incurable illnesses, life sentences imposed by Spanish authorities, lack of healthcare, cruel prison conditions, isolation and dispersal of prisoners.
There are currently 12 Basque prisoners suffering from chronic and incurable illnesses that Spanish authorities are refusing to release.
Over 55 prisoners are also kept in complete isolation in their cells with no natural light for some.
- Etxerat the Basque political prisoner’s relatives group has also denounced the dispersal of Basque prisoners and has said that the situation is very serious. In the last few weeks many prisoners have been transferred to new prisons even further from home. The situation is unbearable and is an attack on the prisoner’s rights.
Etxerat has highlighted that no prisoner has been repatriated. On the contrary prisoners have been transferred to prisons further from home. These transfers have serious consequences for prisoners and their relatives.
During transfers prisoners are handcuffed for very long hours and kept in small cages. While on transfer prisoners have no access to phones. Families have no news about their loved ones for many days. This is unbearable.
Doing an evaluation of last year, Etxerat highlighted that 40 family members have been involved in car accidents when going to visits their loved one’s in prison. One person died in an accident. As to cruel prison conditions, 4 Basque prisoners have tried to take their own life.
The number of prisoners keeps increasing and Etxerat has called on Basque people to mobilize and protest.
In support of the rights of Basque political prisoners hundreds of people take part in protests every Friday in cities and towns in the Basque Country.
- The Basque Spanish police attack a protest against torture.
Last Friday was the trial of the 8 Spanish military police Guardia Civil who are accused of brutally torturing Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola. The two men were arrested by the Spanish police in January and heavily tortured.
While inside the court the 8 accused were undergoing their trial outside Basque citizens organized a protest to denounce torture. Basque-Spanish police did not hesitate to attack protesters indiscriminately and with plastic bullets. Some of the protesters had to be brought to hospital.
Meanwhile in the court, the Spanish policemen denied any wrong doing and any accusation of torture. The accused explained the injuries of the 2 arrested men by saying that they had to use force to during the arrest.
- As we informed in last week’s Basque Info six young people were arrested by the Spanish police in the last attack against the pro-independence youth. 70 young people have been arrested since last July.
Dozens of pro-independence supporters held a press conference in Gasteiz/Vitoria where the arrests took place. A spokesperson highlighted that the Spanish government is trying to weaken the pro-independence movement to put an end to any kind of opposition. They warned of the danger of an agreement between the so called Basque Nationalist Party and the Madrid government which wouldn’t include the self-determination right.
They called upon the young people to continue working day and to join forces in favour of independence and socialism.
Six of the five young members of the youth movement arrested last week in Gasteiz/Vitoria were imprisoned. The sixth one was released on a 24,000€ bail.
-Another Basque political refugee was arrested by the French police in the northern Basque town of Hendaia.
Koldo Mitxelena had already been arrested and in prison before. The arrest of Basque political refugees has become a weekly event.
- The French police arrested a Basque citizen, Ane Marie Toyos and released her few hours later.
Toyos was sentenced to 4 years in prison last year. However, she was released as she had been imprisoned for 8 months in 1999.
The anti repression group Askatasuna, denounced Toyos’ arrest and the repressive attitude inflicted by the French judiciary upon Basque citizens.
According Askatasuna, Ane Marie’s arrest was linked to the raids of pro independence bars last November.
- The two men arrested last week by the French police denounced the arrest as very violent.
Joseba Iturbide and Mikel San Sebastian were arrested last Friday in Donibane Lohitzune/St. Jean de Luz in the north of the Basque Country . They were on the run and were being housed by Basque activists who were also arrested.
The Lawyer of the two men informed the media that San Sebastian had to get 10 stitches on his nose and Iturbide has injuries in one ear. According to the 2 men the arrest was very violent.
The two men were arrested following a Euro warrant ordered by the Spanish authorities and will remain in prison until the extradition request is examined.
The couple who housed the two arrested men have also been imprisoned in Paris for helping Basque activists on the run.
-Despite Spanish repression the pro-independence movement continues with its campaign make the Proposal for a Democratic Framework public. A month ago pro-independence spokespeople Pernando Barrena and Patxi Urrutia were arrested shortly after launching the campaign and holding the first of a series of public meetings.
These arrests were seen as an attempt to silence the content of the negotiations between Batasuna, the Spanish Labour Party and the Basque Nationalist Party. Those conversations took place at the end of 2006 where a pre-agreement was reached. Problems arose when the pro-independence movement asked for a more specific and detailed plan to implement the agreement and to ensure that independence was an available option.
It was then when the Spanish Labour Party and the Basque Nationalist Party left the negotiating table and never answered the requests of the pro-independence movement.
Once the negotiations broke up, ETA attacked Madrid airport. It was after that that a new round of negotiations begun between ETA and the Spanish government on the one hand and between Batasuna and the Spanish Labour Party on the other hand.
Those conversations ended in May last year after the refusal of the Spanish government to accept a viable proposal of an autonomy for the four Basque provinces under Spanish rule including the right to self-determination.
ETA then ended the cease-fire in June last year.
-Last Friday ETA blew up a TV broadcast aerial located in a mountain near Bilbao. According to the Basque-Spanish police ETA tried to kill the policemen who went to deactivate the bomb.
This is ETA’s second action this year. Two weeks ago another bomb destroyed the court buildings in Bergara, near Donostia/San Sebastian two weeks ago.
- Basque citizens have called for a united Aberri Eguna (Basque National Day).
59 Citizens from different social sectors and from different parts of the Basque Country have called for a united Aberri Eguna 2008 which will be the beginning on the way towards sovereignty.
According to the organizers, the majority of Basque society is in favour of the acknowledgment of the Basque Country as a nation, in favour of territoriality and the right to self determination.
This National Basque day will take place on Easter Sunday 23rd March. Taking into account what the Basque Country is currently facing the organizers see it essential that the Basque people are seen as a nation.
The slogan for the Aberri Eguna is “We are a nation, seven provinces in one. In favour of self determination”. The march will leave from Irun Gipuzkoa and will cross the border to the north of the Basque country to end in Hendaia.