25 March 2009


Basque Info 17&24/03/08

-44 political activists charged for political work.

Spanish judge Garzon officially charged 44 pro-independence activists with “membership of terrorist organization” yesterday. All of them have been accused of being members of banned pro-independence political parties. The “offences” include holding press conferences and public meetings.

Most of those who have now been officially charged are currently in prison.

These attacks against political work and freedom of speech and association have been recently denounced by the United Nations Human Rights Special Rapporteur.

-The pro-independence left calls upon all pro-independence forces to look for “an effective strategy”.

Representatives of the pro-independence left held a press conference last week to announce that they are going to meet trade unions and political and social organizations “who believe in the Basque Country and want to build a Basque state”. The aim of these meetings would be to join forces and create an effective pro-independence strategy.

This new move has two objectives, said Arnaldo Otegi who acted as spokesperson. “On one hand to start the democratic process that the Basque Country needs. Thus, we will create a political scenario where all projects, including the pro-independence project, can be defended and carried out. The only limit should be the people’s will, expressed freely, democratically and peacefully”.

The other objective would be to put on the agenda as a central issue the working class’ political, economical and social interests. According to Otegi the pro-independence left has always claimed that “achieving a Basque state is particularly on the worker’s interest.”

Meetings with other groups will take place in coming weeks. This will be the first step to develop a new effective pro-independence strategy.

-French police arrest eight young Basques.

Between Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th March eight young people were arrested and accused of taking part in acts of sabotage. Seven of them were released within a few hours, while one was taken to prison for having outstanding Spanish warrants. Spain has requested his extradition. All of seven released people denounced that the interrogations were of a solely political nature.

-Basque prisoner on hunger strike.

Basque political prisoner Xabier Etxeberria has been on hunger strike for the last 21 days. He’s already lost 10 kilos. Etxeberria will finish his sentence in France next 31st of March. Although he should be allowed to leave the country freely it’s a usual and illegal practice that French police take released Basque prisoners from the jail’s gates to the Spanish border where Spanish police arrest them. They are then held incommunicado and frequently tortured. Subsequently they are charged again and sent to prison.

Basque prisoners have no other option but to go on hunger strike to protest against this practice.

-General strike in the north.

10,000 people took to the streets of Baiona, the main city in the north of the Basque Country last Thursday. Trade unions and political parties had previously called a general strike against the French government’s economic policies.

-Basque-Spanish police Ertzaintza has increased its repressive acts, according to a report.

According to a report, in the last two months, the Ertzaintza has put up nearly a thousand armed road checkpoints, identified over a hundred people on the first of March (election day), "persecuted the ballots of D3M", brutally shot against demonstrators, as happened at Urbina (police shot plastic bullets rounds at the demonstrations against the high speed train; eight people were arrested and and one hundred injured) and banned the welcoming home ceremonies for ex-prisoners.

Moreover, for the first time in three years the Ertzaintza has gone back to the system of keeping some of the arrested people incommunicado while they are being questioned,

-Remembering Angel Berrueta.

On Friday, 13th March hundreds of people gathered in Iruñea/Pamplona, in memory of Angel Berrueta on the fifth anniversary of his killing. Angel Berrueta was murdered by a Spanish policeman when he refused to hang a poster against ETA in his shop. The killing happened on the eve of the Islamic militant Madrid bombings. A huge Spanish government lead media campaign was launched against the Basques.

Those present at the memorial event condemned the murder calling it "terrorism of the state". Kontxi Sanchiz was remembered too. She died on 14th March 2004 in Hernani (Gipuzkoa) from a heart heart attack when Ertzaintza started shooting at demonstrators who were protesting against the murder of Berrueta.

-Sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment, after being accused of throwing petrol bombs.

Hodei Ijurko, a young man from Iruñea-Pamplona, has been sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment, after being accused of throwing petrol bombs at police officers. At the same time, last week was the 5th anniversary of the murder of Angel Berrueta, in the same city. The murderer was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment.

-Irish Basque solidarity events in Belfast and Dublin.

The 6th Irish Basque Night will take place on Good Friday evening in Conway Mill in Belfast. Doors will open at 8 and the public are adviced to get in early due to the annual huge success. Tickets are limited and cost £5 before 10pm and £7 after. DJ Red Rasta and the Irish-Basque ska-reggae band Erik Noon & The Future Gypsies will entertain the audience along with a powerpoint presentation and guest speakers. People are advice to bring their own drink. The event has been organised by the Belfast branch of the Irish Basque Solidarity Committees.

The Dublin branch is also organising another event on the 18th of April. More details on coming bulletins.

10 March 2009


Basque Info 10/03/09

-Belfast Judge decides to start proceedings for extradition case against Inaki de Juana.

Former Basque political prisoner and hunger-striker Inaki de Juana attended a hearing at the Belfast Courts yesterday. Members of the Belfast branch of the Irish Basque Solidarity Committees and supporters stood outside displaying a banner and flags.

After months of discussion on the matter Judge Burgess decided today that the alleged offence of “glorifying terrorism” claimed by the Spanish Special Court has its equivalent in British law. This decision means that Inaki de Juana could eventually be extradited to Spain. However the decision is not final yet as his defence team will appeal against it.

Belfast-based Basque pro-independence activist Inaki de Juana spent 22 years in prison completing not only his sentence to the full but also three extra years for writing a newpaper article where he criticised the prison system. Now, the Spanish authorities want him because of a letter allegedly written by him and read out at his welcoming-home event. The letter ended with a popular Basque saying which can be translated as “forward with the ball” and it’s been interpreted by Spanish judges as “keep on with the armed struggle”. Inaki never attended the welcoming party and denies writing the letter. Even the Spanish police say they don’t have such a letter.

Such a ridiculous case has to be understood in a context of harassment and brutal repression against Inaki, the Basque political prisoners and the pro-independence movement.

-Talks to form new government show no support for nationalist prime minister.

For the first time since the creation of local autonomy 30 years ago the elections held ten days ago in the western Basque Country left the Basque Nationalist Party without enough seats to form a government. The local branch of the Spanish Labour Party came second and has already received the support of the pro-Spanish right wing Popular Party in order to conform a new unionist government. Talks have been held for the last 7 days among the elected parties and they will continue during coming months until a clear majority is achieved to elect a new lehendakari or Prime Minister.

Meanwhile the pro-independence movement which fought the elections under the most undemocratic conditions ever (candidates banned and imprisoned, offices closed down, police attacks on propaganda distribution and events, dozens of arrests, media censorship...) said the 101,000 votes they got will be used to open a new political offensive for a peaceful and democratic scenario. The pro-independence movement went on to say that this western Basque parliament is not legitimate as it doesn’t represent the democratic will of the people. Despite all of this the election results proved that a majority of 640,000 people still voted for pro-self determination parties and 482,000 for unionist parties.

-New denunciations of Basque-Spanish police torture.

Three people were arrested last week by the Basque-Spanish police Ertzaintza accused of being members of ETA. They tried to arrest another three young people without success.

After being held incommunicado for 5 days Manex Castro, the first one to be arrested, denounced the hell he went through: beatings, deprivation of sleep and food, constant threats of every kind: sexual, against his mother and friends, about being handed over to the feared Spanish police Guardia Civil...

Protests and press conferences were held in the home towns of the detainees and a council meeting denounced the detentions and the treatment received by the detainees.

Another famous torture case against two alledged ETA members last year has seen a Spanish judge progressing measures to bring to trial 15 Spanish policemen last week. Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola were seriously beaten, drawn into a river, suffocated with plastic bags and guns were discharged close beside them. Portu had to be taken to the hospital’s intensive care unit.

-Basque prisoner on hunger strike.

Basque political prisoner Xabier Etxebarria began a hunger strike on the 3rd of March against his possible handing over to Spanish police by French authorities when he finishes his sentence in French prison in a few weeks. This is a common but illegal practice and presents a great risk for ex-prisoners to be tortured and imprisoned again.

As with every Friday of the year hundreds of people gathered in vigils in towns and villages across the country in support of the 765 Basque political prisoners. The one with the highest attendance was in Irunea/Pamplona where 370 people attended.

-Wave in favour of gender equality across the Basque Country.

Thousands of people took to the streets in cities and towns in the Basque Country last Sunday, International Women’s Day, to demand equal rights for men and women. Slogans and speeches in favour of the right to free abortion and against the capitalist system were loudly heard.

-Basque-Spanish police against the youth movement.

5 young people were arrested by the Basque-Spanish police last Friday and released after a few hours accused of dropping leaflets and painting slogans against the High Speed Train with a signature of the banned pro-independence youth organization Segi. Hundreds of young people took to the streets that evening and another four were arrested later. A press conference was held by 30 pro-independence youth to reaffirm their will to continue building an independent and socialist state despite the brutal repression.

-Outrage at unionist government attacks against the Basque language.

Over 1,000 people attended a demonstration in Irunea/Pamplona last Friday to demand the right to education through the medium of the Basque language. The local government in the province of Navarre have been constantly accused of placing obstacles in front of the development of the Basque language. Parents who want their children registered in Basque-medium schools have been denied their right to do so, Basque language media and adult schools have seen their funding dramatically cut ...

4 March 2009


Basque Info 3/03/09

-The political apartheid imposes a pro-Spanish parliament and excludes 100,000 voters.

Last Sunday elections took place in the Basque provinces of Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia and Araba to elect a new local parliament.

The pro independence platform Demokrazia 3 Miloi/Democracy 3 Million being banned from standing in elections saw the equivalent of a South African Apartheid in the Basque Country.

Despite this 100,000 people voted with the “illegal” ballots. Many people went to poll stations with their mouth covered with Spanish flags as a protest gesture.

These results are some incredible results, probably one of the biggest civil disobedience actions in Europe in recent years and a clear result of resistance which will make others think of the failure of the repression strategies.

All in all the pro-self determination votes are still a clear majority in the three provinces (600,000 against 400,000 pro-Spanish votes). The paradox is that now the Basque Nationalist Party/PNV are claiming that the pro-independence platforms being banned played in favour of the pro-Spanish parties when that was always said by the pro-independence movement. They acussed the PNV of doing nothing against it. Furthermore they were happily collaborating implementing the Parties' Law. Their political police, Ertzaintza, attacked events and arrested activists during the campaign and their media, EITB, ignored and censored the pro-independence candidates. Now they'll have to confront the reality which is that they have a non democratic three provinces Spanish parliament and what it'll be harder for them, they'll loose power.

These fraudulent elections saw many contradictions. The PNV /Basque Nationalist Party who has been in government for the last 30 years won the election and got 30 seats out of the 75 that conform the local parliament. However, it’s about to loose the government to the Spanish parties. The Spanish Labour Party who made serious gains took 24 seats but the Spanish right wing PP lost votes managing to get 13 seats.

The most probable option is a coalition government made up of PSE (Partido Socialista de Euskadi, the local branch of the social democrats in power in Madrid), PP and UPyD (some fascist split from PSOE).

Reactions :

The pro independence representatives have denounced that the new parliament will be anti democratic and illegitimate because the rules have been bent to suit Spanish unionism.

They have also accused the Spanish Labour Party of completing the cycle of banning started by the right wing Popular Party, and have denounced the political apartheid and continuous persecution of pro independence Basques.

But despite the banning with such a successful result the pro independence movement has said to be ready to open a new political offensive which will lead to a democratic change.

The Basque Nationalist Party, seemed to concentrate on the fact that they received the biggest amount of votes of all the parties but did not want to talk about the fact that they may be loosing their historical position in government.

- Pro independence Basque young people are getting ready for their yearly encounter at Easter.

This year they will be organising a march which will take place over the Easter weekend. This year the march will focus on denouncing the strategy of colonisation of the French State and on celebrating steps towards Basque independence and socialism.

If you are interested in taking part in this event that gathers some 3,000 young people you can get in touch with the Irish Basque Solidarity Committees by writing an email to irishbsc@gmail.com

-A multitude of mobilisations took place last Friday to denounce the conditions of Basque political prisoners.

As every last Friday on the month hundreds of people rallied in villages and towns of the Basque country in support of the Basque political prisoners.

February saw 36 transfer of prisoners.

2 March 2009


Basque Info 24/02/09

-Anti-democratic election campaign goes on.

Two pro-independence platforms have been prevented from taking part in one of the two Basque parliaments’ elections due on the 1st of March. Last week Spanish judge Garzon went further and banned all their activities and ordered the closing of offices and websites. 8 people remain in prison for trying to organise these pro-independence election platforms.

Despite being prevented from taking part in the elections and the continious attacks against its activists and events, the pro-independence movement is carrying on with the election campaign. They have called on the Basque people to a massive action of civil disobedience by voting with the “illegal” ballot. It has been described as a “golden” vote, a vote for real change, a vote which will open the door to a democratic situation in the Basque Country.

In response to the attacks against the pro-independence movement some pro-Spanish parties’ offices were damaged over the weekend.

On the early hours of Monday 23rd, an ETA bomb destroyed the Spanish Labour Party’s new offices in the Basque town of Lazkao.

-“They can’t stop the pro-independence youth movement”.

In March 2001 23 members of the leadership of the pro-independence youth movement were arrested and imprisoned and a simliar operation happened again just one year later. In total 40 young people were sentenced to 6 years in jail for their political work in favour of independence and socialism. Some of those imprisoned were released last week after serving their sentences to the full.

In a press conference they said they don’t regret their political commitment and that they are very proud of the pro-independence youth movement. They went on to say that this movement is stronger than ever despite the attacks and bannings and that the Spanish and French states failed completely in their objectives of making them disappear.

A good example of this was evident during last Thursday’s day of action. Thousands of young people took part in many events organised with the slogan: Join the independence. School strikes, demonstrations, road blockades, buses and mural paintings...followed by harassment from the police was seen in 50 towns across the southern Basque Country.

-Demonstration against criminalization in the north.

500 people took part in a demonstration in Donibane-Lohitzune/St Jéan de Luz to protest against the police questionings of 90 people in the past few months. According to the French police these arrests and questionings have been carried out to investigate the finances of the pro-independence movement. 180 people have been questioned in total since 2007.

Speakers at the end of the rally said these arrests want to stop the strengthening of the pro-independence movement in the north of the Basque Country. They said: “They know everything about our lives but they still can’t understand a thing, they can’t understand why so many people can be involved in a struggle without getting any economic profits out of it.”

-Basque political prisoners.

Hundreds of people took part in the weekly vigils in support of the 765 Basque political prisoners in towns across the country. These prisoners are scattered in 86 prisons thoughout France and Spain. Their friends and relatives have to travel hundreds of miles every week to visit them. 16 relatives have died in road accidents in the last 20 years.

The Basque prisoners’ relatives association Etxerat denounced this week that attacks against them on their way to visit their loved ones have increased in the last few months. Buses’ wheels and windows have been broken, personal belongings have been stolen and check points have been set to harass the prisoners relatives.

Basque political prisoner Juan Manuel Piriz has entered his 25th year in jail. The prisoners’ support group Askatasuna has denounced the extension of prison sentences to make effective life sentences for Basque prisoners.