As we previously reported the 742 members of the Basque Political Prisoners Collective (EPPK) began a series of protests this week which will go on throughout the whole year. The prisoners want to respond to the increased repression in the Basque Country and the harshening of conditions in jail. They also demand the immediate release of all seriously ill prisoners and those who are still kept in prison despite having served completed their sentences.
From Monday the prisoners refused to leave their cells and as a consequence they won’t be able to go to the yard or to courses, they won’t be able to take visits, receive letters or make phone calls and many of them probably won’t be given food.
This is the first phase and the campaign will escalate in coming months when the second phase will start with hunger strikes.
Last Wednesday 70-year-old Basque political prisoner Juan Jose Rego suffered a heart attack. He had two angina pectoris in 2009 the last one on Christmas Day. He’s been in jail for 16 years, he is almost blind and deaf and among others he has prostate problems. His family denounced the lack of medical assistance in jail and expressed their fears about the future.
44,000 people demonstrated in Bilbao two weeks ago to demand the Basque prisoners’ rights are respected and to ask for their repatriation in the largest rally in the Basque Country in years. Despite this support the Spanish and French authorities continue to ignore these demands and increased the criminalization campaign through their allied media.
Hundreds of people confronted snow and cold last Friday to show support to the Basque political prisoners and took part in the weekly vigils across the country.