23 April 2008


Basque Info 21st April


-A new show trial starts against Basque activists in Madrid’s Special Court.

-ETA steps up its campaign against the Spanish government and the Spanish Labour Party.

-Once again Spanish police targets Basque young people.

-Political apartheid against pro-independence movement.


-ETA steps up its campaign against the Spanish government and the Spanish Labour Party.

In the early hours of last Thursday and Saturday ETA warned of two bombs placed at two Spanish Labour Party offices in Balmaseda, near Bilbao and Elgoibar near Donostia/San Sebastian. 30 minutes later both bombs exploded causing substantial material damages.

In the first of the explosion seven policemen were slightly injured.

Pro-Spanish political parties condemned the actions and called protests and police said they would increase protection measures.

These ETA operations come after the armed organization warned in their last statement that they wouldn’t stand still while the Spanish Labour Party arrests, tortures and imposes life sentences to Basque militants and ban pro-independence organizations.

- A new show trial starts against Basque activists in Madrid’s Special Court.

This time 27 Basque activists involved in anti repression work will be tried.
The accused have been working tirelessly to denounce human rights abuses committed by the French and Spanish States. They have denounced torture and defended Basque political prisoners. They are lawyers and activists and are being tried for their work.

It is the third of its kind. The Basque Youth Movement has already been tried and all the 24 accused have been jailed. Social and political activists have also been tried in the 18/98 show trial and 34 of the accused are currently in jail with sentences of 10-17 years.

On Monday the accused refused to acknowledge the courts as this trial is a political trial and the decision has already been made. According to the Basque activists and lawyers the sentence has already been written and they will all be punished.
The accused have received a very warm support from Basque society in particular from relatives of prisoners who have thanked them all for their work in helping their loved ones in prison.

-New raids from the Spanish police.

10 young people were arrested by the Spanish police in the early hours of last Thursday. All of them were taken from their homes in Oiartzun and Orereta near Donostia/San Sebastian.

They have been accused by the Spanish government of dozens of sabotages and attacks against pro-Spanish interests which have taken place in the area in the last three years. As usual, no evidence has been produced against the accused and the media have already sentenced the youth. Among the charges they have been accused of being members of Segi, the banned pro-independence youth movement.

Segi, in a statement released after the arrests said that the media and police are saying nothing but lies. They accused the police and media of criminalizing and attacking the option to organize and fight for a Basque Socialist State.

The anti repression group Askatasuna asked whether the Spanish state will ever learn that what they never achieved in 30 years of repression won’t be achieved at this stage.

Last Saturday dozens of people took part at a press conference in the main square of Orereta to denounce the arrests. It was then when the Basque-Spanish police attacked participants. Two people were arrested and badly injured and one policeman produced his gun and shot twice.

300 people gathered in Oiartzun and 1,600 in Orereta in the evening to show solidarity with the arrested and injured people.

2,000 people took to the streets of Orereta on Sunday against the arrests. More protests have been called for the next few days.

-Political apartheid against pro-independence movement.

Judiciary illegalisation processes are still running against pro-independence political parties. And a parallel banning process is taking place against mayors and councillors of the Basque Nationalist Action/ANV party.

Last week political representatives of the ANV party called a press conference to denounce the new apartheid measures to be put in place by the Spanish Labour Party and their allies in the so called Basque Nationalist Party/PNV.

These parties are increasing the pressure in local councils to remove pro-independence mayors from their duties and to replace them with some of their own. Although this happens after the ETA’s killing of a local former councillor few weeks ago, according to the pro-independence mayors this is a global strategy to isolate and weaken the left nationalist movement. This would leave the path free for new agreements between the Spanish Labour Party and the Basque Nationalist Party.

These agreements would lead to a new fraud against Basque society and wouldn’t resolve the political conflict.

It’s generally accepted that these agreements would consist of a new autonomy statute for the three Basque western provinces which wouldn’t include the self-determination right.

- Jose Luis Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister’s mandate has been brutal.

Etxerat the organisation for prisoner’s relatives has published its annual evaluation of repression. In it, the organisation heavily criticises the violence of the current Spanish government and says that they will not accept another mandate of this kind.

Etxerat says that Basques have been enduring daily violence from the Spanish government.

The dispersal policy has also paid its toll. Since 2004, 5 prisoners have lost their lives in jail. 3 relatives have also lost their lives and 270 relatives have been injured in the 100 car accidents that they have suffered when going to see their loved ones in jail at hundreds of miles.

A total of 735 Basques have are currently in prison, the highest numbers of prisoners in recent history.

As to prison conditions, they have become unbearable, with numerous prisoners being kept in isolation and hardly any medical assistance for the ones who need it.
More than 40 prisoners have been in jail for over 20 years and 12 prisoners are critically or terminally ill and the Spanish authorities are refusing to release them.

Etxerat will do everything in its power to fight against such impunity and repression as well as in favour of resolving the conflict in the Basque Country.

- Basque Political prisoners have been suffering from hard and brutal searches from prison officers.

According to Askatasuna, the anti repression organization, political prisoners have become the target of the Spanish and French repression.

Apart from the usual dispersal policy and isolation of prisoners, French and Spanish prison authorities are brutally searching prisoners, their relatives and cells.

In the past few weeks, prisoners have seen their cells searched and destroyed on a regular basis. Some prisoner’s belongings have been destroyed.

In some cases relatives have also been brutally body searched and in one specific case the partner of a prisoner was brought to a hospital for an X-ray as prison officers suspected she was hiding something inside her body.

-Weekly vigils show support to Basque political prisoners.

As every Friday evening the streets and squares of dozens of towns in the Basque Country saw the weekly vigils in favour of the repatriation of the 740 Basque political prisoners. They are currently jailed in more than 100 prisons in France, Spain and Québec.

The Gasteiz/Vitoria vigil with an attendance of 360 people was the largest and the most emotional vigil took place in Lizarra where a tribute was paid to two local elderly people who have been attending the vigils weekly for years without a miss.

In Plentzia locals steped up the campaign for the release of Anjel Figueroa who suffers from severe epileptic attacks and is still kept in jail. 30 of them went on Saturday to show him solidarity outside the prison walls.

-Spanish torture is denounced internationally.

Hans Draminsky Petersen, vice president of the UN Committee for the Prevention of Torture has denounced the lack of resources available for health professionals in Spanish police stations.

In a conference called “Medical reponsibility in the international fight against torture” which took place in the University of the Basque Country, Mr. Dramnsky said that there are different methods of torture depending on the police force involved and that females are more more exposed to sexual attacks. He added that despite torture methods have changed since the 80’s it still is a reality.

- Basques celebrate the International Day of Political Prisoners.

The 17th of April has become the International Day of Political Prisoners and in the Basque Country as well as other parts of the world organized rallies and demonstrations in favour of political prisoners and demanded amnesty and freedom.
The main event took place in Bilbao last Thursday where hundreds of people gathered to demand the repatriation and release of Basque political prisoners.
International guests also took part in the event.

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