20 February 2010

Pro-Independence Left’s internal debate’s conclusions set new strategy for new phase of strugggle.

The Basque Pro-Independence Lef Regional Assemblies gathered over the past weekend to put an end to the debate "Clarifying the Political Phase and Strategy". More than 600 representatives of more than 270 local Assemblies concluded the debate and defined and decided the strategy to be developed in the future ratifying the Resolution “Zutik Euskal Herria” (“Stand  Up Basque Country”; document in English: http://www.ezkerabertzalea.info ). These are the main contents of the resolution:

1. - The political phase the Basque Country is facing is the phase of
political change.
This change has to be made through the Democratic
Process. Once the conditions for the change have been achieved, it is time
to realise it. The objective of this phase is to reach a democratic
scenario where all political projects can be not only defended with equal
opportunities but also implemented. The objective is to reach a stable and
lasting peace in the Basque Country. Materializing this change also
requires that we change  ourselves.

2.- According to the Pro-Independence Left there is a real opportunity for the desired real political change. The opportunity to overcome the current cycle and
open a new democratic one is there. The challenge is to pass the door
opened after decades of struggle and tireless work and to do the change.
There are enough political and social conditions to do it.

3.- The Pro-Independence Left reaffirms its commitment to use exclusively
political and democratic means.
Those means make possible the necessary
masses mobilization and unity of action of the democratic and progressive
forces of the country  to open the process and to develop it. Those are
the guarantee and leading forces of the process. This democratic process
must be developed in a complete absence of violence and without
interference. Dialogue and negotiation among the political forces should
be governed by the principles of Senator Mitchell.

4.- An increasing  accumulation of forces through exclusively mass,
institutional and ideological struggle is the basis to move the State to
the field of the democratic and free confrontation of ideas and political
projects and to achieve a scenario where the Basque people freely,
peacefully and democratically will be able to decide about their future.

The Pro-Independence Left also calls on the Basque people and all progressive, democrat and popular forces, maintaining each one its own history, identity and being, to unite forces to make this process irreversible. They also call on the international community to accompany this process.

Finally the Basque Pro-Independence Left is sure that through common work and mass struggle next months will bring new scenarios and developments making this process irreversible.

All Basque nationalist political parties and trade unions expressed their positive welcoming to the debate’s conclusions.

The Spanish unionist parties tried to hide their concerns talking about minor issues and without discussing the main contains of the statement.

11 February 2010

European MP's have called for the acquittal of Egunkaria Five

Twenty five members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have condemned in Strasbourg (France) the Egunkaria case, by signing a statement in favour of the daily. They have called for the acquittal of the five former members of Egunkaria´s Board of Directors –as they think that this is the only fair verdict possible–, the dropping of the financial court case and compensation of all the damage inflicted on all the defendants. In 2005, 22 MEPs called for the suspension of the closing down of the Egunkaria daily and requested that the rights of freedom of speech and information be respected.

The MEPs that signed the statement are representatives of four political groups: the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the Group of the Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens-EFA), the Confederal Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL) and the Group of the European People’s Party. Some of them took part in a press conference today, together with Martxelo Otamendi, the former Editor-in -Chief of Egunkaria and one of the defendants. The following MEPs attended the conference: Izaskun Bilbao (ALDE), Ramon Tremosa (ALDE), Oriol Junqueras (Greens-EFA), François Alfonsi (Greens-EFA), Catherine Greze (Greens-EFA) and Raul Romeva (Greens-EFA). About 15 journalists attended the conference.

“The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected”, they claimed in the statement. They also mentioned the torture claims made by some of the defendants. “We have to emphasize the report written in March 2004 by Theo van Boven, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. After visiting Spain to monitor the human rights situation in that country, he concluded that the torture claims made by the defendants in the Egunkaria case were consistent, and requested the Spanish Government to take measures to prevent torture”.

- Strong criticism of the Spanish State

The MEP Izaskun Bilbao (Basque Nationalist Party) said that the Egunkaria case is “baseless” and added that the honour of the defendants should be restored. “This case should never have happened”. Tremosa claimed that the closing down was a “violation of rights” and pointed out that the State that currently runs the European Union presidency [Spain] is one that closes down daily newspapers. “We must react strongly against it”, he said. The MEP Oriol Junqueras pointed out that the acquittal of the defendants is the only solution, as did the other MEPs. “The whole Spanish political class knows that the closing down of Egunkaria was undemocratic, but neither the Popular Party nor the Socialist Party have had the courage to condemn this offence which they backed at that time. It is shameful to close down a newspaper basing the decision on inconsistent accusations”.

Alfonsi criticized the position of the Spanish state. According to him, Spain has a problem with democracy: “It systematically violates the freedom of speech of the Basque people”. He cited the Law of Political Parties and the closing down of Egunkaria as examples of that.

Romeva gave Otamendi and the other defendants his full backing and asked the European Union to display “clearer coherence” on the defence of the rights. “It condemns offences that take place abroad, but it should take more notice of the situation inside the European Union”.

Otamendi briefly explained the case to the media: what Egunkaria was, what happened during the closing down, the torture complaints of many of the defendants, the support received from the Basque Country and many other countries; he said that acquittal is the only acceptable verdict for the defendants and that after that, they will ask for justice.

The trial in the closing down case of Egunkaria finished last 1 February and the defendants are waiting for the verdict. The Defence Counsel and the Public Prosecutor have called for their acquittal, but the Private Prosecution represented by the Association of Victims of Terrorism and Dignity and Justice has requested penalties of 12-14 years of prison.

- Many initiatives of support

When the trial in the Egunkaria process began, on December 15 2009, three members of the Greens-EFA group expressed their support of the defendants in a press statement: François Alfonsi, Catherine Grèze and José Bové. They stated that the Egunkaria case was “an insult to the Basque people and their culture”. Besides, they showed their full backing of the defendants.

On the other hand, on 18 January 2010, the MEP Izaskun Bilbao gave a minute-long speech in the European Parliament. She reminded the closing down of the daily, and the torture complaints; she pointed out that the Public Prosecutor had called for the case to be dropped and condemned the fact that the trial had started almost seven years after the closing down. She said that this case shows that serious mistakes are committed in Europe.

Basque solidarity events in Dublin and Belfast

Day of events Saturday 13th February

2.30pm Picket line at Old Andersonstown Barracks.
3pm Mural unveiling at Old Andersonstown Barracks.
8pm Dinner in aid of Basque political prisoners at Cultúrlann.
After dinner live music, videos and international launch of Friends of the Basque Country website.

2pm Picket line at O’Connell Street.
8pm Solidarity Night at Clifton Court Hotel, Eden Quay (€6) with Erik Noon & the Future Gypsies and more.

Basque political prisoner ends hunger strike

Last Friday Basque political prisoner Lorentxa Gimon ended a 39-day-hunger-strike. She was the only Basque prisoner in the northern French jail of Roanne. She demanded that she was transferred to another jail where she could share block with other Basque prisoners. On Friday the prison's principal finally agreed to the transfer. 



Special Basque Info program

This week we joined the International Week of Solidarity with the Basque Country and extended our Basque Info program to one hour long. We invited friends of the Basque Country from across Europe and we also had some usual comentators from the Basque Country.

You can now listen to this week's special Basque Info.

4 February 2010


Friends of the Basque Country – we need you! 

No oppressed nation on earth can free itself in isolation. The mobilisation of international support from other struggles and people has, to a greater or lesser degree, always been necessary.  The same is true of Euskal Herria (the Basque Country). 

The names of Pro-Independence Left Basques together with fighters of other nations are part of imperialism's blacklist of ‘undesirables’.  The Spanish and French governments miss no opportunity to publicly insult and attack the Basque social organisations which seek a democratic solution to the conflict perpetuated by the same Spanish and French governments. The number of Basque political prisoners, at a distance of thousands of kilometres from their country, relations and friends, has never been so high during the past 50 years: 765 people.  Tens of political and social organisations have been banned in the south of our country. 

Nevertheless, there is no scarcity of solidarity extended – from those who open their houses, who help families visit the political prisoners, who mobilise to break down the wall of silence that the mass media builds over the reality that we suffer and that we, at the same time, also construct.  They are the true friends of Euskal Herria. 

In spite of imperialism's attacks, the reconstruction of Euskal Herria is in train.  The numbers of women and men who dream and live thinking of a Euskal Herria of the working class, of Mother Earth, which is free from labour and gender exploitation, is growing constantly.  A Euskal Herria that lives its life through its language, which dances to the same tune as all peoples who fight for their freedom.

This developing process of liberation needs to pass through a new phase that pushes it forward: the implementation of the right of self-determination.  This has always been a fundamental objective of the Pro-Independence Left and we think that the struggle of recent years has succeeded in laying the foundations for its construction. 

The implementation of the right to self-determination will enable the democratic resolution of the confrontation which Spanish and French domination has imposed on this nation, and will enable us to move forward towards an independent and socialist Euskal Herria. 

It is because of all this that we call on the network of Friends of the Basque Country across the world to carry out actions of solidarity and that they uphold, in particular, the right of self-determination to which we are entitled as a nation during the Week of International Solidarity with the Basque Country, from the 6th to the 13th of February. 

Thousands of peoples, one struggle!  For socialism, FREEDOM FOR THE BASQUE COUNTRY! 

Basque Info radio program

You can now listen to this week's Basque Info radio program. Next week we'll have a one hour long special program with lots of guests from the BC and abroad to celebrate the International Week of Solidarity with the Basque Country.

New campaign in favour of civil and political rights launched

Last Saturday thousands of people filled the Euskalduna Conference Centre to attend the launch of Adierazi EH/Express PI (People’s Initiative) the new campaign group in favour of civil and political rights.

This new platform gathers people from many different political backgrounds and aims at demanding democracy for the Basque Country and the implementation of all civil and political rights cut down in the past few years.

During the event there was dance, theatre and videos displaying in different ways the attacks against civil and political rights in the Basque Country.

The speakers told the audience that the continuous banning of political parties, the mass arrests of political and social activists and the censorship occurring in the Basque Country is a unique situation within the European context.

But despite the terrible situation mass protests have been organised recently which shows the importance of the joint work among people of different political background. Adierazi EH wants to become a platform for them all.

The new group’s manifesto was read during the event which demands from the Spanish and French states, Europe and the world, the respect of the freedoms of opinion, expression, association and demonstration and the rights to intimacy and privacy,  to access to justice, to active and passive vote and finally the right to reparation and democratic restoration.

Trial against Egunkaria ends

The lawyers of the five indicted in the trial against the Basque language newspaper Egunkaria highlighted the absurdity of case during the last session on Monday.

Even the public prosecution said there wasn’t enough evidences against them and asked for the charges to be dropped. Despite that, the private prosecution represented by the lawyers of two Spanish right-wing associations requested they are sentenced for up to 14 years in jail.

The indicted have requested that the ill treatment they received should be reflected upon, and say that the only thing they are guilty of is having worked in favour of Basque culture.

Martxelo Otamendi, the paper’s former Editor-in-Chief, said: «I am guilty of running a Basque-language newspaper». He said he wanted to thank his colleagues for appointing him, and told them it had been an «honour» to share those years with the people in the dock. He pointed out that he had never been a member of ETA, and that Egunkaria had never been under its control. «The only thing we did was to work to develop our language». And he also made the following remark: «You can’t accuse someone of being a member of ETA if they themselves are not even aware of the fact».

The verdict is expected to be delivered within a few weeks.

Arrival of the Egunkaria Five to the Basque Country after the last session of the trial in Madrid.

Events in solidarity with Egunkaria were organised in Ireland by the Irish Basque Solidarity Committees over the past few days. 60 people attended a talk given by the coordination of the international campaign in favour of Egunkaria in Derry on Saturday and dozens more attended talks in Belfast and Dublin on Monday and Tuesday.

Talk organised in Derry.

End of hunger strike in prisons and solidarity in the Basque Country

The 746 Basque political prisoners ended the week long hunger strike last Sunday at midnight. The protest is part of a new campaign of protests which begun on the 1st of January of this year. More protests have been announced for coming months. The Basque political prisoners demand the recognition of their political status, their repatriation to Basque prisons and the release of all ill prisoners and those who have already completed their sentences.

During the week and especially over the weekend, hundreds of solidarity protests took place across the Basque Country and in at least 20 different towns, two day fasts were organised. In Bilbao 20 people fasted for the entire week.

One of the many fasts organised over the weekend in solidarity with the Basque political prisoners.

Unfortunately Basque prisoner Lorentxa Gimon remains on hunger strike after 33 days in the northern French jail of Roanne. She demands that she is transferred to another jail with Basque comrades. 60 people from her home town of Donibane Garazi/St. Jéan-de-Pied-de-Port travelled to Roanne to show their solidarity. They were joined outside the prison by local left-wing activists.

New accusations against the Spanish police for Jon Anza’s disappearance

Last week French journalist and writer Jacques Massey launched his new book called “ETA, secret history of a 100 years’ war”. In the epilogue Massey comments on the disappearance of former Basque political prisoner Jon Anza nine months ago and reveals that a very important and reliable source told him that the Spanish police kidnapped him, and that there are tapped phone conversations regarding this. Massey also interviewed members of the French special police who didn’t deny the accusations.

After the new revelations the Jon Anza campaign demanded a judge is appointed for the case but the public prosecutor has rejected it. The campaign spoke out against the authorities silence surrounding the case.

Otegi demands a democratic solution to the conflict during trial

Last week the Pro-Independence Left imprisoned leader Arnaldo Otegi attended trial in Madrid for taking part in 2005 in a solidarity event with Basque political prisoner Joxe Mari Sagardui "Gatza" on the 25th anniversary of his imprisonment. He is still in jail which marks him as the oldest serving prisoner in Europe.

Arnaldo Otegi at the rally organised to demand Joxe Mari "Gatza" Sagardui's relase.

 Otegi, who has been accused of glorifying terrorism, took advantage of the opportunity to demand a democratic resolution to the political conflict. He said the Pro-Independence Left has always worked for a peaceful resolution and remembered the self-determination processes in Ireland and Scotland.

He also spoke about the situation of the Basque political prisoners. He said that the existence of almost 800 prisoners out of a population of three million proves the existence of a conflict without parallels around the world.