28 July 2009

Strasbourg’s judgement supports political apartheid.

Basque Info 7/07/09

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-Strasbourg’s judgement supports political apartheid.

As we informed listeners last week the European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, made a judgement related to the Spanish "Law on Political Parties". In the judgement the Court supported the bannings of pro-independence political parties in the Basque Country.

In a press conference pro-independence spokesperson Arnaldo Otegi said that the judgement does not contribute in any way to the political settlement of the Basque conflict, but just the opposite. Otegi continued: “We believe that it is a clear step backwards for fundamental rights and freedoms in the European framework which can affect other progressive organisations in the future if they raise questions about the legal framework of the states in which they act.”

According to Otegi the Court has accepted the reasoning and arguments initiated by the former government of Mr. Aznar's Popular Party, with the consent of the PSOE, aimed at preventing solutions in the Basque Country and to put in place a situation of permanent confrontation.

Otegi recalled that the "Law on Political Parties" - which was created ad hoc in order to ban Batasuna (and later on other political organisations supported by or related to the Basque pro-independence left) - came into being under the cover of the antiterrorist offensive initiated by the Bush Government. That war against “terrorism” permitted clear violations and restrictions of fundamental rights.

It is surprising that the Spanish conservative PP, which still has not condemned the dictatorship of Franco, and the Spanish Labour Party, which organised acts of State terrorism while in government in the past, are the ones who are pleased about the judgement.

The pro-independence left reasserts before the European community that there is no other way of settling the Basque conflict apart from inclusive dialogue and political negotiation, in a situation of non-violence and goodwill, leading to an agreement that recognises the democratic right of Basque citizens to decide on their own future, just as the European citizens of Ireland, Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Flanders or other countries.

-Basque activists still at risk of extradition.

Last week a hearing on the case of Basque political refugee Inaki Etxeberria was held in Caracas, Venezuela. The prosecution was in favour of dropping the case. The solidarity campaign denounced pressures from the Spanish authorities to get Inaki extradited. He’s still in jail awaiting the court’s decision.

The judge in the case of Belfast-based Basque activist Arturo “Benat” Villanueva decided last Friday to set the 25th of September as the date for the hearing on the extradition case. The hearing of Belfast-based Basque activist Inaki de Juana will also be held in September.

-More arrests in France.

Three alleged ETA members were arrested in the southern French region of Bearn last Saturday. According to the French police they seized guns, money, false ID’s and material to build weapons dumps in their car.

The other two alleged ETA members arrested last week after a road accident they had are still in hospital. Their injuries are not life threatening. Despite their condition, one of them, 20-year-old woman Oihana Mardaras, was taken in for questioning. She told her solicitors afterwards that she had been ill-treated by the French police.

-Political demands present at festivals.

On Monday 6th of July the Basque Country’s capital Irunea/Pamplona started its worlwide festivals of San Fermin. Around one million people come from across the world to take part in the festivals.

Last Saturday a demonstration took place in the city to defend Basque symbols which are under constant attack by the local pro-Spanish authorities and to remind visitors that Irunea/Pamplona is not Spain nor France but the Basque Country.

Another demonstration on Friday demanded the fiestas remain the people’s fiestas in opposition to the efforts made by the local authorities to turn them into a more elitist festival.

On Monday, just one hour after the fiestas started, the traditional champagne cheering in support of the Basque political prisoners and refugees took place.

Basque flags and flags demanding the repatriation of prisoners can be seen hanging in balconies, pro-independence posters and banners fill the walls and bars, political stickers and t-shirts are worn by thousands of people, dinners and demonstrations with the same demands are held...Struggle and partying are linked during the nine days of the San Fermin festivals and the same happens in hundreds of towns across the Basque Country over the summer.

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