24 September 2009


Basque Info 22/09/09

• A demonstration marks five months since Jon Anza’s dissapearance.
• Three new dirty war cases publicly denounced.
• Thousands gather for civil and political rights.
• Basque political prisoner in hunger strike.

-A demonstration marks five months since Jon Anza’s dissapearance.

Last Saturday more than 2,000 people walked the streets of Donibane-Lohitzune/St. Jéan-de-Luz behind a banner reading “Where is Jon? We want the truth”. Thousands more couldn’t attend the rally due to the Spanish police check points set at the border between the south and north of the Basque Country.

Former Basque political prisoner Jon Anza went missing on the 18th of April. He went to live in the northern Basque Country after being released from a Spanish jail due to his fear of being arrested again. He had been living there for some years until his familly lost all communication with him. One month later ETA released a statement in which they said Jon was a militant of the armed organisation and he was on his way to a meeting when he was disappeared. ETA said the police had known for some time he was a member of the organisation and accused the Spanish secret services of making him disappear.

No more news has emerged for the past five months and the main media and political parties remain silent around the case.

Despite this, thousands of posters, leaflets, banners, t-shirts...can be seen everywhere in the Basque Country asking where is Jon and protests and demonstrations take place every week.

At the end of the rally speakers said that the general silence imposed surrounding the case make them feel outraged and that it clearly shows this is a political kidnapping.

They compared it with other cases during the worst years of the Spanish dirty war in the 80’s and with the Argentina and Chile cases in the 70’s. They called upon the Basque society to keep their memory alive and comfort the relatives of the disappeared. They said they won’t allow anyone to take their dignity away from them and that they’ll keep fighting for the truth.

-Three new dirty war cases publicly denounced.

Last week at a press conference three Basque young people, helped by relatives, friends and members of the pro-amnesty movement, denounced police threats, harassment and kidnapping.

Dani Saralegi was kidnapped on the 22nd of March for seven hours by two men. After months of living in fear he finally got enough strength to denounce it publicly. During the seven hours he was asked about his work in Gora Irunea!, an umbrella group established to promote Basque culture and popular festivals. Dani is a well known social and political activist in his home town Irunea/Pamplona and is the spokesperson of this umbrella group.

Imanol Pancorbo was approached by two men while on holidays in Alicante who asked him to collaborate with them. They threatened him with putting him in jail for 15 years if he didn’t.

Saioa Zerain said she’s been receiving calls from an unknown number since July. The unknown caller tells her they know her and that they have someting for her.

The pro-amnesty movement spokesperson at the press conference denounced the fact that repression is increasing and spreading to new areas. He said a real “state of exception” has been imposed in the Basque Country and reminded people of other dirty war actions like three kidnappings and the dissapearance of Jon Anza. He called upon Basque people to denounce these incidents and to respond to repression.

-Thousands gather for civil and political rights.
Last Sunday more than 4,000 people took part in the day long program of events organised during the second edition of the Bat Egin Eguna, a day to join forces and efforts in favour of civil and political rights. The main focus of the day were those who are in jail for belonging to social and political organizations. One of them, 72-year-old Jose Luis Elkoro, who addressed the crowd during the first edition, sent a letter from jail and it was read at the main rally. He encouraged everybody to keep going forward and not to fall into frustration. He was sentenced to 8 years for being one of the funders of the pro-independence and leftist Egin newspaper.

The former director of Egunkaria, the Basque language newspaper closed down by the Spanish authorities in 2002, was the second one to address the audience. He said their trial will start in November and asked everybody to take part in the solidarity protests. He said it’s time to end with the political persecution.

The thousands of people who attended the day's events enjoyed street animation, clowns for children, gigs, food and more despite the bad weather forecast, the Spanish authorities' threats to ban the events and the strong check points the Spanish police set at the entrance of Lakuntza village.

-Basque political prisoner in hunger strike.

On the 27th of September Basque political prisoner Aintzane Olarkoaga will be released after doing her sentence in France. She suspects she will be taken from the jail’s gates to the Spanish border and be handed over to Spanish police. Despite being an illegal practice this is the usual fate former Basque prisoners have to endure in France. Once they are in the hands of the Spanish they are in great risk of being tortured. On the 10th of September she began a hunger strike to protest against that situation.

Over the weekend Aintzane’s supporters protested outside the Bapaume jail where she is being held. Another 60 people gathered in Hendaia to send her strength and solidarity.

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