In the early hours of yesterday, Tuesday, 34 Basque pro-Independence political activists were arrested and 92 properties were searched in an operation involving 650 Spanish policemen. The police tried to arrest another seven youths but they weren’t in their homes.
Last week the anti-repression organization Askatasuna warned that they believed a police operation was imminent in the Basque Country. Then, in the early hours of Tuesday 24, 34 well known social, political and cultural young activists were arrested in what was the largest police operation in decades. They are being held incommunicado despite the recent recomendations of the United Nations Committee Against Torture.
All of them have been accused of being members of the national and county-level leadership of the pro-independence left-wing youth organization Segi which was banned in 2005.
Just ten days ago the Basque pro-Independence Left held a press conference where 110 prominent members launched new proposals to resolve the conflict. In a historical move they commited to a "peaceful and democratic political process" (full declaration in English: http://www.ezkerabertzalea.info/irakurri.php?id=2600). The declaration was welcomed by Basque nationalist and progressive forces and criminalized by the pro-Spanish parties and media.
On October 13 six prominent pro-Independence Left leaders, among them spokesperson Arnaldo Otegi, were arrested and imprisoned.
Most political parties and trade unions in the Basque Country have seen these arrests as a response to the new political initiative. The pro-Independence Left has said these attacks only confirm the Spanish state's weakness and its fear of politics. According to the pro-Independence Left it's in the political arena where the state is weakest and that's where the confrontation has to be moved to. At the same time the Spanish state, with these arrests and others which might follow, intends on the one hand to prevent any change of estrategy by the pro-Independence Left and, on the other, to weaken the engine of change.
After months of debates and events at local level a national day had been called for this coming Saturday in Zestoa to reorganise and strengthen the broad Basque youth movement. The arrests come to prevent this from happening. Other youth organizations have called for a response to the attack by taking part in that very important day.
Dozens of protests took place in towns, schools and universities across the country and more protests are expected to be organised in days to come.
The Irish Basque Solidarity Committees called to show support for the democratic process and to stop repression. Picket lines have been organised on Saturday 28th.
2.30pm Belfast (outside Cultúrlann)
12pm Dublin (GPO)