28 January 2009

IMPRISONED FOR TRYING TO STAND IN ELECTIONS

Basque Info 27/01/09

-Arrested for trying to stand in elections.



8 well known pro-independence political activists were arrested on the early hours of Friday in the four provinces of the southern Basque Country. 300 Spanish policemen took part in the operation directed by judge Garzon. After three days incommunicado all of them were sent to a prison in Madrid.

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 were searched also but they weren’t 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. The arrested are accused of helping ETA by setting this platform and trying to take part in the elections.

Last Friday’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.

50 members of the pro-independence movement held a press conference on Saturday and said the Spanish government is afraid of a political and democratic confrontation. The pro-independence movement will respond to the attacks with more political initiatives and it won’t go underground, they added.

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 took place in many towns across the Basque Country over the weekend.


-ETA targets High Speed Train.


In a statement released last week ETA claimed responsability for several actions and explained the reasons behind them.

On the 31st of December a car bomb destroyed the main offices of some Spanish media and the public Basque radio-television in Bilbao. ETA says that there is not freedom of speech in the Basque Country since pro-independence political activists are constantly threatened and imprisoned for their opinions, a large section of the Basque society are censored and suffered a political apartheid and newspapers are closed down. ETA accuses the Spanish media of being nothing else than another weapon at the hands of Spanish fascism following the harassment policy designed by the Spanish Interior Minister against the pro-independence movement.

Refering to the so called public Basque radi-television company ETA accuses it of following the political interests of the Basque Nationalist Party to hide the real nature of the political conflict and of applying the Spanish government designed apartheid policies against the pro-independence movement.

On the 3rd of December ETA killed a businessman involved in the construction of the controversial High Speed Train. For many years a wide popular campaign has been developed in order to stop such construction which, if completed, would cause irrepairable environmental and economic damage within the Basque Country. ETA says in the statement that all responsibles for the construction are his targets and ask them to stop the works immediately in order to allow a public and open social debate about the need of it. ETA accuses the political and economic elite of destroying the Basque Country with numerous controversial projects in order to satisfy their greed while ignoring the people’s will.


-Spanish torture exposed.


CPT, the Spanish umbrella group for 44 associations against torture, dennounced the sentence against the Basque anti-repression movement that gave 174 years in prison to 21 activists. The Spanish group says that the sentence criminalizes “the (human rights) defenders” and that none of the offences of terrorism, membership of terrorist group or terrorist activities have been prooved.

In similar terms the Human Rights Committee of United Nations critized in its last review the Spanish state for not preventing torture. Last week the Spanish government protested the report saying that it wasn’t representative.

A German MP asked her government last week not to collaborate with the Spanish state because of the allegations of torture.

-International Week of Solidarity with the Basque Country.

Events will be held across the world under the slogan “The Basque Country doesn’t walk alone towards democracy and self-determination”.

Picket lines will be organised by the Irish Basque Solidarity Committees and Friends of the Basque Country on Saturday 14th in Cork, Dublin, Derry, Belfast, Omagh and Strabane.

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