17 April 2008

IN THE BASQUE COUNTRY LIKE IN IRELAND: DEMOCRATIC SOLUTION

Basque Info 15th April

Headlines

-Batasuna’s statement on the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

- A new show trial is about to start against Basque activists involved in anti repression work.

- The French government freezes 14 personal bank accounts of pro independence families.

-2,000 people protest in Bilbao against the mayor’s decision to put up the Spanish flag.

News


-On the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement the banned pro-independence party Batasuna launched a statement to highlight that “in the Basque Country like in Ireland there is a solution and this has to be democratic.”

According to Batasuna the Good Friday Agreement established the democratic mechanisms for all the political options to be defended and put in practice. Batasuna also said that self-determination is recognised for the people of Ireland and that institutions and mechanisms of cooperation between North and South have been established.

Batasuna reminded that they didn’t just suggest a model for a negotiation process in the Basque Country but a proposal for a democratic framework as well.

Batasuna reassures its commitment for a democratic solution, dialogue and negotiation as the way forward, contrary to repression. They called on the Spanish prime minister Zapatero to choose between Tony Blair’s or South African prime minister De Klerck’s path or the one chosen by the Turkish and Sri Lankan governments apply against Kurds and Tamil people.


- A new show trial is about to start against Basque activists involved in anti repression work.

The case against activists involved in anti repression work will be tried in a Madrid court. The 33/01 trial, name given to the case will start next Monday.

The accused have made it clear that in the opinion the sentence has already been written and that they will all end in jail.

“The trial will be a farce and at the end of it we will all end up in jail” said the accused.

- The French government freezes 14 personal bank accounts of pro independence families.

Bank accounts of activists of Batasuna and their partners as well as accounts of 4 children have been frozen.

Batasuna and the anti repression group Askatasuna have denounced such measures and have said that it is an attack against a political project.

They have also said that Paris is choosing to take the same path as Madrid.

The families involved have also said that they cannot even make an official complaint as they haven’t been notified of the fact that the bank accounts have been frozen. No reason has been given by anyone for such measures.

-2,000 people protested in Bilbao on Monday of last week against the mayor’s decision to put up the Spanish flag at the balcony of the city hall.

40 different community and political groups called the protest against the Spanish imposition and carried a banner were “Ours is the Basque flag” could be read.

Bilbao’s mayor, member of the so-called Basque Nationalist Party, was criticized for accepting the Spanish law. At the end of the rally organisers said “this situation shows once again that the Basque Country is suffering from an undeclared war. The Basque Country wants to survive. It’s denied of its rights and is confronted by two states that want to impose their identities.”

They called politicians to defend the wish of the majority of Basque citizens against the Spanish impositions.

- The Pro independence movement is prepared to work with anyone interested in working within a democratic framework.

On Thursday the pro-independence movement highlighted that they are prepared to work with anyone who is willing to include self determination as part of an agreement and who is prepared to consult Basque citizens on the future of the Basque country which could include independence. In that sense the pro-independence movement complained that the Basque Nationalist Party/PNV and the Spanish Labour Party/PSOE are trying to reach an agreement to make statutory reform within the narrow terms of the Spanish Constitution.

That kind of reform has proved to be a failure as this is what’s been imposed in the last 30 years and has not given a solution to the conflict.

The pro independence movement has announced that they will keep working to end partition.


PRISONERS

- Basque political refugee and, now, prisoner Ivan Apaolaza’s case has a huge media attention in Montreal, Quebec.

Ivan Apaolaza was arrested in Montreal in June 2007. He was on the run. In March he appeared in front of the judge to assess his case and to decide if he will be expelled to Spain.

According to the anti repression group Askatasuna, Montreal citizens showed solidarity with Apaolaza during the trial, which has received huge media attention.

The defense lawyer made it very clear that there is hardly anything against Apaolaza. The Spanish authorities are looking to arrest him following some declarations made under torture by the Basque prisoner, Ana Egues.

This is the only evidence that the Spanish authorities have against Apaolaza. These are not sufficient evidence to expel him according to his lawyer.

- Despite his serious illness the Spanish prison authorities are refusing to release Anjel Figueroa.

Last Wednesday Anjel had to be rushed to hospital following four new epileptic seizures.
Anjel suffers from serious epilepsy and his imprisonment is making his situation worse.
In the last month he has been hospitalized four times but he has been sent back to prison every time.

The Director of the prison of Langraitz in the Basque Country, where he is currently kept, has actually requested to the prison authorities of Madrid to release Anjel.
But the Spanish authorities are refusing to do so.

As it happens every Friday of the year hundreds of people took part in vigils and picket lines all across the Basque Country to ask for the repatriation of the 740 Basque political prisoners and the immediate release of those who are kept in jail despite being seriously ill or those who have already fulfilled their sentence.

- ETA bombs another broadcasting areal in Nafarroa.

The attack took place on Sunday in a small village called Lapoblacion. The bomb caused minor material damages. The Spanish Guardia Civil also found another bomb close to it . The Spanish government in Nafarroa condemned ETA’sction.

- Hailing the past.

70 years on and the memory of the mass killings of thousands of republicans, socialists and nationalists by Franco’s forces is still very much alive in the Basque Country. In the province of Navarre, where the repression was particularly brutal, many different events have been organized in the last few weeks.

The “Memory bus” will be traveling all around the province to bring testimonies and show what has been kept in silence for so many years. Nowadays the pro-Spanish right wing government in the province still keeps pro-Franco street names. This is just an example of the attitude of the pro-Spanish forces in relation to the political cleansing and the post trauma, repression, hypocrisy and forgotness surrounding the 1936 war.

Although Nafarroa wasn’t a war from, 3,000 people were killed and many more were imprisoned, beaten, raped and humiliate for years.

All of them were remembered by around 2,000 people in a highly emotional tribute last Sunday in the capital of Irunea/Pamplona.

This is the third time that after so many years of repression a public homage has been organized. It shows once again the difficulties imposed by the authorities when it comes to remembering those who gave their lives for their commitment for a just society and a free Basque Country.

-A new controversy flairs up in the Basque Country.


It comes at a time when, as previously mentioned, there are still pro-Franco street names in towns and cities in the Basque Country.

The pro-Spanish political parties, with the help of some so-called nationalist parties, have launched a campaign to change the street names dedicated to assassinated ETA volunteers and other state violence victims.

The pro-independence activists of one of these towns, Zizurkil, organized a press conference to denounce the hypocrisy and the hierarchy of victims. Two of the street names removed this week in Zizurkil were dedicated to Joxe Arregi and Joxelu Geresta. The first one was brutally tortured to death by the Spanish police in 1981 and the second one was found dead during ETA’s ceasefire in 1999. he had clear signs of having been killed by state forces.

The pro-independence activists showed their commitment to achieve a scenario where there will be no more victims, a peace scenario based on rights.



-International PEN organization’s Commission for Writers in Prison denounces the situation of two Basque journalists.

Last weekend during a meeting in Glasgow the international association unanimously denounced the plight of two Basque journalists.

70 writers from 27 countries gathered over the weekend. They were briefed by two members of the Basque PEN branch on the closing down of newspapers, tortures and imprisonment suffered by Basque writers and journalists at the hands of the Spanish police.

Teresa Toda and Jabier Salutregi were sentenced to 10 years in prison each along with other 40 social, political and trade union activists by the Spanish Special Court last December. Both were editors and directors of the newspaper Egin. The pro-independence newspaper was closed down by the Spanish government 10 years ago.

This case will be debated at next September’s International PEN’s Assembly in Colombia.

- 1,500 Basque feminists held their fourth conference last weekend.

Debates took place around the theme of “Our rebel identities and our not submissive bodies” and about the role the feminist movement should play in the process for conflict resolution in the Basque Country.

The expropriation of women’s bodies, the imposition of a body model, a heterosexual model of relationships were some of the specific debates. Workshops and debates around prostitution were also organized.

The main conclusion of the conference was the need for a cohesive Basque feminist movement.

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