24 June 2008


Basque Info News 24th of June

Headlines :

-The Show trial to complete the banning of pro-independence parties takes place.
-The court case against the pro amnesty movement comes to a close.
-Cruelty against Basque prisoners is on the increase.
-Demonstrations take place in favour of real change.


- The Show trial to complete the banning of pro-independence parties takes place.

After the banning of Batasuna in 2003 now it is the turn of EHAK/Communist Party of the Basque Lands and ANV/Basque Nationalist Action. The activities of both parties were suspended last February at the start of the illegalization process.

For the last two weeks the Spanish Supreme Court has been trying to find evidence against the two parties to conclude the banning process. Once again, as it happens in all the trials against pro-independence Basque citizens and organizations, the accused have had to prove their innocence rather than the prosecution proving that they are guilty. Once again it’s clear that the sentence has been already written.

The state prosecutor has only presented police officers as independent and technical witnesses in the case. Their assessments have been proved to be full of contradictions and they haven’t been able to connect EHAK and ANV parties with Batasuna, the already banned party. This alleged connection is the main reason to ban both political parties.

Even the pro-Spanish media noticed the lack of evidence but this won’t be a problem for the so-called Spanish justice and the pro-independence parties will definitely be banned.

- The court case against the pro amnesty movement comes to a close.

Solidarity with those accused.

The judge has requested 10 years of prison for 21 of the Basque activists. He has asked for 13 years for another 3 and has retracted the charges against 3 of the accused.

27 Basque activists and lawyers have been tried in this latest political trial. They have all been charged for allegedly being members of ETA. These activists and lawyers have been supporting prisoners and denouncing repression and torture against Basques.
The trial finished last Wednesday and the verdict is expected soon.

The defense has qualified the evidence presented against the accused as poor. The defense lawyers highlighted the obvious lack of evidence against the accused. They also made it clear that although the prosecution has tried very hard to show the trial as democratic it’s been made very clear that it was a political trial in breach of the citizens’ rights.

As to the accused, they concluded that the tribunal has taken a huge step, as it’s gone from denying repression to criminalizing the denunciation of it. They have also denounced the political nature of the trial. However this case has given the accused the chance to highlight the reality around repression in the Basque Country for the last 30 years. And for that the accused have said that they are satisfied for having been able to highlight the repressive measures.

The support for the pro amnesty movement has been widespread. William Sloan, representative of the Association of American Lawyers has said that the accused couldn’t defend themselves in front of such madness which has no logic.

The denunciation of the trial also extended to the South of Spain. Last Wednesday at the University of Seville, one of the spokespeople in the case took part in a conference to highlight what is happening.

The conference was organized by a group of lawyers from AndalucĂ­a and was well attended with 140 people attending it despite the media pressure and threats from right wing groups.

Meanwhile in the Basque Country many protests and demonstrations have been taking place to denounce the trial.

The main demonstration took place in Irunea/Pamplona where 2,000 people marched in silence to denounce repression in the Basque Country.

At the end of the march one of the spokespeople said that the banning and imprisonment of Basques will not stop the movement for amnesty. He also made it clear that the anti-repression work will not stop while there is more and more Basques in prison and while the Spanish and French authorities continue with repression.

-Demonstrations take place in favour of real change.

In 2007, during the negotiation process, the pro-independence movement put forward a proposal for the resolution of the conflict and called it the Democratic Framework. It was based on a single autonomy for the four provinces in the south of the Basque Country and another one for the northern three. These autonomies would have the right to decide their future freely.

The negotiation process failed when the pro-independence movement’s counterparts at the talks, the Basque Nationalist Party and the Spanish Labour Party left the table refusing to accept the right of Basque citizens to decide their future.

Since then the pro-independence movement has warned of the great danger of a deal between the other two parties. This deal wouldn’t accept the existence of the Basque Country as a seven province nation and it would ignore the right to self-determination.

The pro-independence movement has developed a large campaign to present the Proposal for a Democratic Framework to the Basque people. This is being done through posters, mass mailing and public talks. Three main spokespeople were imprisoned just after the first of the public talks took place as a way to silence the proposal.

Last Saturday thousands of people took part in rallies in Bilbao, Donostia/San Sebastian and Gasteiz/Vitoria to support the campaign. The common slogan couldn’t have been clearer: “The change that the Basque Country needs: Autonomy and decision for the four provinces.”

-Amnesty International says that the Spanish State has not taken the appropriate measures to redress the accusations of torture.

The Spanish State has been criticised for not doing enough to avoid torture.
The Spanish government has refused to acknowledge the fact that torture is a regular practice and systematic when it comes to Basques. The General Secretary of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, has said that investigating cases of torture is not enough and that preventative measures are essential such as the installation of cameras in interrogation centres. She has also said that the Spanish system does not have any safety measures to protect the respect of human rights.

Irene Khan who met with the president of the Basque Autonomous government recommended to Madrid and to the Basque government that they put measures to prevent torture and to independently investigate any case of torture.

-Cruelty against Basque political prisoners.

Basque prisoner Mikel Ibanez was last week finally transferred from a prison in Madrid to an Intensive Care Unit and then to a Basque Hospital to be treated for a range of serious illnesses.

Despite his request for medical treatment in jail it wasn’t until he got into a coma last April that his appeal was heard. He was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with diabetes, anaemia and cancer. He was then sent back to prison. His lawyers, relatives and Basque organizations and citizens denounced his situation many times and organised a campaign to ask for his immediate release.

- The Collective of Basque Political Prisoners have denounced the torture and blackmail campaign, waged by the Spanish and French governments against all Basque prisoners and have called upon Basque society to mobilise in defence of their rights.

Two Basque political prisoners were beaten up by prison officers last week, twelve are still in prison despite their serious illnesses and many more have seen their sentence extended after fully serving their time. These are real life sentences.

Protests were held outside the Donostia/San Sebastian Hospital where Mikel Ibanez has been transferred to. As every Friday of the year, dozens of vigils took place all around the Basque Country to support the prisoners. The largest one was in Gasteiz/Vitoria with 366 people attending.

- The French government denies the right to the Basque language.

Basque and other minority languages in the French State will have to continue fighting for their survival without the least official recognition. The French Senate has denied any rights to the minority languages last week and the French government has said that this issue is not a priority for them.


Basque Info News 4th to 17th of June


-Batasuna reiterates its commitment with conflict resolution.

-International solidarity with the Basque Country.

-Human rights groups from the Spanish State support the Basque movement for Amnesty.

-Batasuna reiterates its commitment with conflict resolution.

Around 120 people attended a public meeting in the northern Basque town of Uztaritze to hear from the Batasuna representatives the evaluation of the failed negotiation process.

Once again the pro-independence spokespeople highlighted that there was a real opportunity to solve the conflict and that the opportunity is still there.

As they explained Batasuna based its proposals in the democratic right of the Basque citizens to decide their future and denounced the lack of courage on the side of the Spanish government. Although the French government tried to show itself as being outside of the process many signs show that they were following the process very closely and supported the Spanish positions.

-International solidarity with the Basque Country.

A group of Irish former political prisoners and Coiste activists visited the Basque Country over the weekend. They wanted to take this opportunity to show solidarity and to exchange experiences and lessons.

In a press conference last Friday Michael Culbert denounced the criminalization against the Basque anti-repression movement and remembered how the British government tried the same strategy to finally accept the political roots of the conflict and open a negotiation process.

Another delegation of the Irish Basque Committees took part in numerous events along the weekend among them meetings and rallies like the one hold in front of the Spanish governor’s offices in Bilbao.

The Basque Internationalist movement had called a solidarity weekend and groups from Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and others attended. The mayor of the District 10 of Rome, Sandro Medici, sent his solidarity greetings to the pro-independence mayors threatened by the Spanish authorities and showed support for negotiation and self-determination.

- Human rights groups from the Spanish State support the Basque movement for Amnesty.

Around 30 social groups that defend human rights in the Spanish State have signed up a manifesto in support of the accused in the macro trial.

27 Basque activists and lawyers are currently in court accused of being linked with ETA. They are all involved in anti repression work.

Around 30 people and organizations signed the manifesto, among them the former president of the European Association of Democratic Lawyers and the spokesperson of the group for the prevention of torture.

The groups have condemned the current show trial as well as the previous one’s and have accused the Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon of behaving like a sensationalist journalist.

Julen Arzuaga, Basque lawyer accused in the trial, highlighted that repression has not stopped in the Basque country and that there are more prisoners now than ever, which means that someone needs to defend them and collect all the data around repression. Julen also has made it clear that this type of work will continue as long as repression exists.

The accused in the show trial have refused to present a defence. According to the accused, the sentence has already been decided and they’ll all be punished.
The prosecution has requested 10 and 13 years for most of the accused. Today is the last day of the trial and the sentences will be known shortly.

- Over a thousand Basques protest against the increasing repression.

Last Saturday in Baiona North of the Basque Country 1300 people and representatives of different organisations as well as public representatives took part in a demonstration to say Stop to Spanish and French repression.

They protested against the serious situation of prisoners, the show trial that is taking place in Madrid against people involved in anti repression work and to protest against the judicial measures.

At the end of the protest the anti repression groups Askatasuna made it clear that they will not allow values such as solidarity and respect for freedom to become criminal acts.

-ETA attacks pro-Spanish newspaper buildings.

In the early hours of the 8th of June a bomb exploded outside one of the buildings where the pro-Spanish newspaper El Correo Espanol/The Spanish Post is printed in Zamudio, near Bilbao.

Around 40 sq. Metres were destroyed and those working at the printer had to stop their work for two hours.
The newspaper was printed with a new front page where “They will not silence us” could be read.

This is not the first time ETA attacks this particular newspaper. El Correo Espanol/The Spanish Post was one of the main pro-Franco newspapers and nowadays represents the right wing pro-Spanish interests in the Basque Country. This kind of media has been described by ETA as weapons of war against Basque freedom.

Local authorities and press associations called protests in the main cities of the Basque Country on the aftermath of the attack.

- Two more prisoners have started a hunger and thirst strike.

Jabi Abaunza and Arkaitz Bellon who are in prison in Algeciras have started the hunger and thirst strike after prison officers beat up Arkaitz Bellona.
The two prisoners were recently transferred to Algeciras and are kept separate from the other Basque prisoners.

Oier Gonzalez who is in Muret Seysses in France also continues the hunger strike he started last May 26th.

Meanwhile Basques from Urnieta near San Sebastian, remembered the death of Juan Carlos Alberdi.He died in prison 20 years ago due to lack of medical assistance.

Local Basques organised a commemoration in his memory last Sunday. They also demanded the release of all the Basque prisoners who suffer from chronic and serious illnesses.

- Another two prisoners have seen their sentence extended to a life sentence.

Pello Odriozola and Ines de Rio were due to be released in July after two lengthy sentences of 30 years. But following a new law life sentences have now been extended to 40 years and the two prisoners will be kept in prison till 2018.

Askatasuna, the anti repression group, has denounced this action and said that this new legislation has been created to destroy Basque political prisoners.

-Hundreds of people show solidarity with political prisoners.

As every Friday of the year hundreds of people took part in around 40 vigils in support of the 740 Basque political prisoners scattered in more than 100 hundred jails around Spain and France.

The largest attendance was in Donostia/San Sebastian with 380 people.
Political prisoner Mikel Ibanez was specially remembered as he was taken to hospital due to his serious illness while Spanish authorities denied his right to be released.

-Thousands support the Basque schools in the very south of the Basque Country.

One again thousands of people responded to the call of the Basque language schools to support them in the province of Araba.

Despite the rain falls a day long of events took place in the village of Bastida in the border with the Spanish region of Rioja. It was a celebration and fundraising day.

26 years ago this Basque school opened its doors with seven students. Nowadays 200 attend the school. In 1981 Bastida had 1% of Basque speakers but thanks to the school today 25% of the village’s inhabitants can speak the native language.

4 June 2008


Basque Info News 3rd of June.


- The pro independence movement criticizes the recent proposal for a Consultation on the future of the Basque Country.

-ETA encourages Basque citizens to continue fighting for an independent Basque state.

-Thousands protest against the High Speed Train.


-The pro independence movement criticizes the recent proposal for a Consultation on the future of the Basque Country.

The pro-independence movement is not happy about the consultation proposed by the Basque Autonomous government about the future of the Basque Country.

Last week the Juan Jose Ibarretxe, president of the Basque autonomous government announced that next October Basque citizens will have the opportunity to give their views on the future of the Basque Country.

The pro-independence movement is not happy with the proposal. They have accused the president of the government of using the consultation for electoral gains only. They have also accused Juan Jose Ibarretxe of negotiating with the Spanish government while he refuses to talk to Basque pro independence parties.

The pro-independence movement has also highlighted that the consultation will only take place within three out of seven provinces that constitute the so called Basque Autonomous region, leaving out the province of Navarre as well as the three provinces under French control.

According to the Basque pro-independence movement the Basque Country does not need Ibarretxe’s proposal, but a plan that includes all the political and social actors and trade unions of the Basque Country.

The pro independence movement has not made clear what way they will ask their supporters to vote on the day of the consultation. Their support is essential to give the consultation some value. Their position will be confirmed on the 27th of June and the pro independence movement has said that they will act responsibly.

Meanwhile the Spanish government has made it clear that if this proposal goes forward they will go to the constitutional tribunal to make the consultation illegal.

-ETA encourages Basque citizens to continue fighting for an independent Basque state.

In a statement published last week, ETA says that the armed organization was created to fight against oppression and that they continue with the same commitment, trying to open the door to independence and socialism. “Our goal, says ETA, is the creation of a Basque state because this will make the development of the Basque Country and its citizens possible”.

ETA acknowledges that “there are many people and organizations involved in this task. Each one working in their own capacity and from their own perspective. All of them are needed.” ETA says, that they will continue doing their part.

The armed organization thinks that “the way has to be opened day by day and that the most important thing is to develop the foundations of the Basque Country and to fight against oppression and in favor of the rights”. They also thanked the work done up until now and highlighted that the Basque Country is closer to freedom.

Following the arrests of two weeks ago in Bordeaux, ETA reminds the Spanish and French states of the need to find a political solution to the conflict. They also said that it is a mistake to persist repressing the Basque Country.

ETA also denounces the efforts of the Spanish Labour Party and the Basque Nationalist Party to reach an agreement that would ignore the territoriality and the right of self determination of the Basque Country.

-Thousands protest against the High Speed Train.

Last Saturday and despite the terrible weather Donostia/San Sebastian saw one of the largest demonstrations against the construction of the High Speed Train (HST) in the Basque Country.

Hundreds of people took part in the day long events. It marked the end of a national tour which has been giving information and denouncing the impact of the High Speed Train on the environment and economy of the Basque Country if it was finally built.

In the evening, thousands of Basques marched behind a banner which said: “Stop the High Speed Train! More debate, less imposition”. They also shouted slogans like: “Villages alive, no to the HST”, “Stop destruction!”...

Speakers at the end of the rally asked for a public debate and for the end of the works. They said that the HST will destroy the Basque landscape, the people and a way of life.

People were asked to continue fighting against this project. Speakers made it clear that it is possible to stop such a monstrous project.

Over the weekend two dumpers which are being used to build the tracks of the HST were burnt in Donostia/San Sebastian and the railway between Zalla and Balmaseda, near Bilbao was cut off.

Last night ETA blew up the offices of one of the main companies involved in the building of the HST.

-Protests against political apartheid.

One year ago there were local elections in the south of the Basque Country. 133 local pro-independence platforms and candidates were prevented of standing in the elections by the Spanish authorities. A unique case in Europe.

In order to remember and denounce this political apartheid hundreds of people took to the streets in different towns and villages in the Basque Country last week.


- Two Basque political prisoners go on hunger strike to protest against prison conditions.

Oier Gonzalez and Juan Carlos Subijana are kept in jail in the French prison of Muret Seysses and last 19th May they went on hunger strike to defend their rights.
The prisoners demand longer visits, they want an end to isolation of Basque prisoners within the prison and the right to more than 4 books and 2 CD’s at once.

-Spanish Prison authorities are refusing to release terminally and critically ill Basque prisoners.

The number of seriously ill prisoners is up to 13. According to the Spanish law, prisoners who suffer from terminal illnesses have to be released. However, in the case of Basque prisoners the authorities are refusing to do so.

Last week, the lawyer and doctor of Mikel Ibanez highlighted the serious situation of the prisoner. After falling into a coma he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

He is currently in hospital to be treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The doctor and lawyer are extremely concerned with Mikel’s health as the cancer could expand to the whole of his body.

Mikel’s lawyer has made 3 requests to release him but the Spanish high court has refused to release him.

In support of Basque political prisoners like every Friday Hundreds of Basque took to the streets to protest against the bad prison conditions.

- Meanwhile, Etxerat the group of Basque political prisoners' relatives have been in the European parliament to denounce the prison conditions that Basque political prisoners are suffering.

The relatives of prisoners met several MEP’s and lawyers last Wednesday and denounced the French and Spanish state’s policies against Basque prisoners. They highlighted that torture exists and that there is a Guantanamo in the middle of Europe.
Relatives also took the opportunity to demand what actions Europe is going to take to avoid further deaths and torture.

-Wide repression in Navarre.

Last week the Annual Report about Repression in the Basque province of Navarre was published by the Askatasuna.

The anti repression movement denounces in it that in 2007 in this province alone, there were 627 police check points, 1.165 people were identified, 145 arrested and 19 imprisoned. 9 of them denounced torture and there were 32 police attacks, 50 beatings, 164 attacks against the freedom of speech, 65 prohibitions, 26 fascist attacks and more than 50.000 euros fines. One elderly woman from the gipsy community was killed by the local police in an attack. The relatives of Basque prisoners from Nafarroa were also involved in 3 serious road accidents when going to their visit.

-“Spanish police tortures”, says Amnesty International.

According to the 2007 Amnesty International report torture is a constant and extensive method used by the Spanish police forces.

Amnesty International says that most of the torture victims are alleged members of ETA and immigrants.

The human rights organization denounced that police have complete impunity to do so.

The group for the prevention of torture has also confirmed that torture in the Spanish state is a general trend.

The group presented last week its own report around torture in the Spanish State for 2007.

689 people denounced torture in the Spanish state and 136 of the people affected were from the Basque Country.