6 August 2009

ETA's offensive against Spanish state

Listen to Basque Info with interview with Julen Arzuaga, former director of Behatokia, Basque Human Rights Watch.

Basque Info 4/07/09
• ETA’s offensive kills two Spanish cops.
• Pro-independence councillor dies after being harassed by police.
• Basque newspaper directors finally charged.

-ETA’s offensive kills two Spanish cops.
In the early hours of last Wednesday ETA destroyed the Spanish Guardia Civil police headquarters in Burgos, northern Spain. 50 people were injured.
Just 34 hours later a bomb attached to a Guardia Civil car killed two policemen in Majorca. Another bomb attached to another police car was deactivated in the same place.

The ETA offensive comes as the Spanish authorities have repeated once again that the Basque pro-independence armed organszation was almost defeated. The week of the attack has been marked by some historians as the 50th anniversary of the creation of ETA.

The Basque pro-independence movement has pointed out after the attacks that the Spanish authorities have repeated the same line constantly for 50 years and ETA hasn’t been defeated.

The pro-independence left said after the attacks that there is not a police problem with ETA but a political conflict with the Basque people. The pro-independence movement went on to say that political responsibility is needed in all sides. They express their commitment to a negotiated solution to the conflict and to act in a responsible manner.

In the aftermath of the attacks the Spanish government tried to unify all the political parties in a statement against a negotiated end to the conflict. The Interior Minister went on to say that even if the Basque pro-independence movement condemned ETA’s actions it wouldn’t be legalized.

-Pro-independence councillor dies after being harassed by police.
Basque pro-independence councillor Remi Aiestaran died from a heart attack last Friday evening after being harassed by Basque-Spanish policemen.

The weekly Basque prisoners solidarity vigil was about to start in Villabona last Friday when 10 Basque-Spanish police vans took over the town’s main square. It was then that in order to avoid disturbances during the local festivals those gathered decided to abandon the vigil. Most of them moved to a nearby square where gigs had been organised by the local youth. The police followed them there and started provoking and harassing 27-year-old local pro-independence councillor and deputy mayor Remi Aiestaran.

After many provocations he told the policemen they weren’t welcome by the town council. It was then that some friends asked him to leave in case he was arrested. A few minutes later he collapsed and died.

The local festivals were immediately suspended. An extraordinary council meeting was called and the police repression denounced. The councillor’s funeral was attended by thousands of people and a very emotional homage was organised afterwards. He was remembered as a very committed and beloved member of the community. A demonstration followed the popular tribute. More demonstrations and a general strike in the town have been called for the coming days.

-Basque newspaper directors finally charged.
On the 23rd of February 2003 the Spanish Guardia Civil police closed down Egunkaria, the only Basque language newspaper and arrested seven members of the editorial team. All of them, well known Basque language and culture activists and academics, were brutally tortured. The images of a shattered Martxelo Otamendi director of Egunkaria after being released from a 5-day incommunicado hell shocked Basque society.
Some of the largest people’s mobilisations took place to denounce the Spanish attack against Basque culture and freedom of speech.

After 6 long years the Spanish Special Court finally decided to formally charge all of them with membership of terrorist organization. Despite the opposition of the state prosecution the far right wing finally convinced the judges of the need to charge them and start procedures for trial. The acussed are facing sentences of 14 years.

In a press conference the acussed expressed their disappointement and said these procedures weren’t typical of a democratic state. They said they were proudly guilty of promoting Basque language, culture and media but that they weren’t members of ETA.