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.