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Basque Info 14/07/09
• Basque prisoner enters 30th year in jail.
• ETA’s attack.
• Spanish flag burnt.
• Hundreds at demonstration against repression.
• Basque political refugee layed to rest.
• March against High Speed Train.
-Basque prisoner enters 30th year in jail.
Basque prisoner Jose Mari Sagardui "Gatza", the oldest political prisoner in Europe has already spent 29 years in Spanish jails. According to Spanish law he should have been released in 2005. He’s spent most of his life in jail. His home town has seen many demonstrations for his support and even the Basque Autonomous Region’s Parliament has asked for his release.
Since his arrest on the 8th of July 1980 when he was brutally tortured, he has been in 13 different Spanish jails and in total he’s been transfered 34 times. In those 30 years he’s been in prisons in the Basque Country just twice, and only for a very short period.
He is currently being detained in Jaen’s jail, 730 kilometres from his home.
He has been a victim of the different Spanish prison policies including those of the cruel treatment in Carabanchel, the dispersal policy and currently the extreme confinement in Jaen. There is no natural light in his cell, and all his communications and movements are under strict control. He’s kept in isolation for 20 hours per day and under the hardest prison regime.
The Basque pro-amnesty movement has reiterated that despite the Spanish and French states not recognizing the political status of Basque prisoners, the measures they impose upon them are political.
Gatza has numerous obstacles to continue with his university studies and has many obstacles to get medical assistance.
Due to the relentless changes introduced by the Spanish authorities to act against the Basque political prisoners, Gatza has seen his remissions denied. He also saw his sentence modified and increased to 30 years.
Last Thursday an ETA bomb destroyed the Spanish Labour Party’s offices in Durango, near Bilbao. The police had previously sealed off the area but locals protested because they didn’t warn them of the danger.
-Spanish flag burnt.
The Spanish flag hanging from the balcony of the local government buildings in Gernika was burnt over the weekend. It’s within the building’s gardens where the Basque liberties’ symbol, the Gernika Tree is situated. Gernika was bombed in 1937 by the Spanish fascists in the first civilian bombing of history and killed 2,000 people.
The Spanish flag was hung there last April when the newly elected Spanish Labour Party’s Basque Autonomous Region Prime Minister took office.
-Hundreds at demonstration against repression.
Last Saturday hundreds of mainly young people rallied in the northern town of Donibane Lohitzune/Saint Jéan de Luz. The demonstration had been called by the pro-independence youth organization Segi to protest against the recent months French police operations. During the last protest at the end of June, 12 young people were arrested.
The march tried to reach the French Minister of Justice’s home but the police prevented the protesters by using tear gas.
After some confrontations the rally finally arrived to the end where speakers encouraged the Basque youth to continue organising themselves and working for the Basque Country.
-March against High Speed Train.
Last Saturday thousands of people protested in Bilbao against the High Speed Train (HST). The authorities controversial decission to build a HST trail in the Basque Country has resulted in massive opposition from pro-independence left-wing parties, trade unions, environmentalist groups, farmers organizations...etc. ETA has also repetedly attacked the works and killed a main constructor.
Speakers at the rally in Bilbao said that any person who is well informed of the damaging nature of the HST becomes a person against its construction. They said they will continue organising opposition across the city.
-Basque political refugee layed to rest.
30 years ago Joxe Antonio Otxoantesana had to escape from Spanish repression to Mexico. For three decades he helped Basque escapees in the north American country. He died last month from a brain haemorrhage. One of his sons last Sunday brought his ashes back to the Basque Country. Hundreds of people were waiting for him at the airport. Finally, hundreds more payed a well deserved hommage to Otxoantesana in his home town of Ondarru where his ashes were scattered into the sea.
Speakers at the rally remembered the public of the hundreds of Basque political refugees across the world.