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.

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