Basque Info 10/03/09
• Spanish Court sentences Arnaldo Otegi to two years in jail
• Spain launches international criminalization campaign
• Thousands call for pro-independence unity
• Basque women take to the streets on International Women’s Day
• No justice for Basques
Spanish Court sentences Arnaldo Otegi to two years in jail
Last week the Spanish Special Court sentenced Basque Pro-Independence leader Arnaldo Otegi to two years in jail for his speech at a Basque political prisoners solidarity event.
On the 9th June 2005 Otegi told the crowd that the Basque Country could achieve a democratic scenario through negotiations and he added “we owe that to the Basque political prisoners, refuggees and all comrades who have fallen in the struggle and we will achieve it”.
The Spanish Special Court charged Otegi with an offence of “glorifying terrorism”. In the sentence the judges go on to say that Otegi can’t compare Nelson Mandela with Basque political prisoner Joxe Mari Sagardui “Gatza”, who has been in jail for 30 years now, beacuse Mandela “never used violence”.
South African hero Nelson Mandela was the funder of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC, in 1961, publicly defended the need for armed struggle, organized guerrila camps and up until 2008 he was on the USA’s “terrorist list”.
During his trial Otegi defended the Pro-Independence Left’s position to develop a democratic process through exclusively political means while the judges showed their lack of imparciality doing jokes and comments about him.
Otegi was arrested last October just at the beginning of the Pro-Independence Left’s internal debate and has remained in jail since then.
Last weekend a letter writen by Otegi was read at the Sinn Féin’s Ard Fhéis (Annual National Congress). Otegi asked the international community to support the democratic process in the Basque Country.
During the Ard Fhéis there were many motions in support of the Basque struggle for self-determination, the Basque political prisoners and Belfast-based Basque activists fighting extradition Inaki De Juana and Arturo “Benat” Villanueva who last week saw his extradition request finally dismissed.
Spain launches international criminalization campaign
Last week the Spanish authorities claimed that the Venezuelan revolutionary government of Hugo Chavez was supporting ETA. The claims came after a judge in the Spanish Special Court charged several members of ETA and the Colombian guerrillas FARC with “terrorism” for an alleged attempted plot to kill the Colombian president Uribe while visiting Spain.
The Spanish judged went on to say that a training camp had been set up by ETA and FARC in Venezuela and accused the Venezuelan government of helping them out.
President Hugo Chavez responded by saying that if the Spanish Special Court could do it it would charge as a “terrorist” Simon Bolivar, who fought the Spanish Empire to free many Latin American nations in the 19th century.
This international criminalization campaign comes when many international mediators and groups are putting pressure on the Spanish government to respond in a positive manner to the Basque Pro-Independence Left last political decisions to promote a democratic process through exclusively political means.
Thousands call for pro-independence unity
5,000 people took to the streets of Irunea/Pamplona last Saturday to call on all pro-independence forces to come together and develop a democratic process.
The demonstration had been called by citizens of many different backgrounds and it is another step which along with others is trying to activate a growing broad grassroots movement in favour of independence.
The organisers were surprised by the success of the rally (the largest one in the city for some time) and said it proves that there is a will for political and social change in Basque society.
Just in two weeks the new pro-independence grassroots movement Independentistak has got more than 4,500 friends in Facebook.
Basque women take to the streets on International Women’s Day
The Basque feminist movement filled the streets across the Basque Country on Monday to remind that there is still much to do to achieve equality and women’s rights respect.
Every years thousands of people take part in the 8th of March rallies but this year the marches will go on for six days. To coincide with the International Women’s March women will be traveling across the country with their demands.
No justice for Basques
Six years ago a Spanish police man and his son murdered Basque pro-independence activist Anjel Berrueta for refusing to put a poster against ETA in his bakery after the Islamist militant attacks in Madrid which killed more than 200 people.
Despite being sentenced to 20 and 15 years in jail they had been given weekend paroles at least since 2008. The news were just uncovered when someone saw them in the streets. Anjel Berrueta’s family has been object of threats since the killing and were devasted by the news. The killers have even applied for a government’s pardon.
Meanwhile four pro-independence youth were tried last week for some sabotages against bank offices. The prosecution asked for 33 years in jail for each one of them.
The same Spanish Special Court refused last week to judge in Madrid four people arrested in the Basque Country last year accused of being a pro-Spanish fascist gang accused of more than two dozens of attacks against pro-independence activists and clubs.