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 ...

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