23 January 2009

Breaking news: 8 Basque political activists arrested‏

In the picture pro-independence movement's spokesperson Arantza Urkaregi being arrested by Spanish police.

Basque Info 23/01/09 Last time updated: 4.55pm

8 well known pro-independence political activists have been arrested on the early hours of today in the four provinces of the southern Basque Country. 300 Spanish policemen took part in the operation directed by judge Garzon.

The arrested activists are: Agurtzane Solaberrieta, Hodei Egaña, Eli Zubiaga, Iker Rodrigo, Arantza Urkaregi, Imanol Nieto, Amparo Lasheras and Iñaki Olalde.

The Spanish police searched the offices of Herria Aurrera and Gasteiz Izan (Bilbao and Gasteiz/Vitoria council parties) and 14 houses and removed computers and documents. The houses of the pro-independence movement spokespersons Tasio Erkizia, Xanti Kiroga and Marine Pueyo are still being searched also but they haven't been arrested.

The Spanish Interior Minister has accused the arrested of "trying to reorganise the leadership of Batasuna". The Basque anti-repression movement Askatasuna dennounced the arrests are aimed to prevent the pro-independence movement from taking part in next regional elections.

In October 2007, 23 members of the leadership of Batasuna, the banned pro-independence party, were arrested and are currently in jail for their political work. Two weeks ago four of them along with spokesperson Arnaldo Otegi, Basque region prime minister Ibarretxe and two leader of the Spanish Labour Party's Basque regional branch appeared in court accused of holding peace talks in 2006-2007. The recently created Democracy 3 Million (D3M) platform is expected to be also banned and prevented from taking part in next local elections of 1st of March.

Today's arrests have to be understood within the context of a wider strategy of criminalization and repression against the pro-independence movement. These arrests are directed to halt the pro-independence movement's work to achieve a new scenario of peace, democracy and self-determination for the Basque Country.

Most of Basque political parties viewed the arrests as being politically-motivated and linked them to the Spanish government and Labour Party's electoral interests.

Protests against the arrests and to show support to the detainees have been held in Bilbao and Laudio (below) this morning and more have been called for the evening. In Baiona (northern Basque Country), members of Batasuna protested at the Spanish consulate where they were harassed by French policemen.

Tuesdays 6.30-7pm & Wednesdays 12-12.30pm Basque Info at Féile FM 103.2
6th-15th February International Solidarity Week with the Basque Country

No comments: