25 March 2010

Basque Info 17 and 24/03/10

Basque Info 17 and 24/03/10

• Jon Anza’s corpse found in a Toulouse’s morgue
• French policeman killed in shooting with ETA members
• Nationalist vote divided in the north
• New pro-independence youth organization launched
• Basques in danger of being extradited
• Prisoners on hunger strike

Jon Anza’s corpse found in a Toulouse’s morgue

After 11 months missing Jon Anza’s corpse was found in a morgue in the French city of Toulouse on March 11th. Jon Anza’s disappearance was publicly denounced by his family at the time and ETA released a statement claiming his membership. All of them pointed at the Spanish security forces as those responsible for his disappearance.

Since then a campaign has tirelessly mobilised thousands of people and filled the Basque Country walls and beyond with posters including Jon Anza’s picture and the question “where is Jon?”

The campaign met with the Spanish authorities and media’s complete silence but several reports published by French journalists over the past months confirmed what everybody in the Basque Country suspected.

The case is now under investigation by the French authorities but numerous questions have arisen. According to the information released by the authorities on April 29th Jon Anza was found on the street and taken to hospital were he died on May 11th. He arrived to Toulouse by train on April 18th. Where was he for 11 days? Why did no one report it? Why wasn’t he included on the missing persons list? Why has he been found now?

The whole protocol failed since the very moment Jon Anza was found on the street. Even the case’s French prosecutor can’t explain it and now the case is under secret and is being supervised by a judge. All hypotheses are open and the only one dismissed has been the Spanish Interior Minister’s one.

People took to the streets in the Basque Country as soon as the news emerged. The largest demonstration took place in Jon Anza’s home town Donostia/San Sebastian on Sunday 14th. 8,000 people marched to demand the truth.

On Monday 15th about 100 people travelled to Toulouse to support Jon Anza’s family and demand to have the family’s doctor present at the autopsy. This right was denied by the French authorities and the police attacked the supporters outside the hospital with tear gas.

The Spanish authorities have denied any involvement in the disappearance and have threatened to prosecute those who imply the opposite. A relative of Jon Anza was called to appear before the judge on Monday for the Sunday’s march.

French policeman killed in a shooting with ETA members

A French policeman was shot dead in an incident which happened outside Paris on Tuesday 16th.

According to police sources around eight alleged ETA members stole two cars from a car dealer and shortly after one of the cars were stopped by police officers. When they were arresting the suspects the other car arrived and there was a shooting which resulted on the death of one of the policemen.

One of the alleged ETA members was arrested and the rest escaped by car and on foot.

This is the first time ETA has killed a French policeman. The French and Spanish authorities condemned the killing and promised to be implacable with ETA.

The Basque Pro-Independence Left regretted the incident and asked ETA to reaffirm its commitment with the democratic process.

On March 20th ETA released a statement where they said they are ready to give all the steps needed to help the political change. The statement was dated before the Jon Anza’s body had been found and also before the fatal shooting.

Nationalist vote divided in the north

The French regional elections had some different outcomes for the Basque nationalist parties who contested separately.

The Basque Nationalist Party emerged as the main party among the nationalists with 7,000 votes. The Pro-Independence Left called for a vote of protest and got 4,000 as the Basque Country doesn’t have its own regional institutions. Other nationalists supported the green Europe Ecologie platform.

Outside the majority of polling stations the platform in favour of Basque institutions organised a parallel un-official referendum where the 96% of the 27,000 people who took part said to be in favour of some sort of official recognition for the Basque Country. The referendum organiser congratulated those who took part and criticised the French authorities for trying to ban it.

New pro-independence youth organization launched

100 young people from many different organizations launched a new Basque pro-independence youth group on March 11th. The new group called GaztEHerria (similar to “Basque Youth Nation”) announced that it will work for independence from a left wing perspective and that it will organise an all day long national event on Good Friday in Durango as a first step of what they want to become a mass movement.

Prisoners in hunger strike

From the beginning of the year the Basque political prisoners are immersed in a campaign of protests against their deteriorating situation and in favour of political status. Prisoners have held hunger strikes, lock ups in their cells, picket lines, communications strikes...

Nine prisoners have been in hunger strike since the 1st of March in the French jail of Fleury.

Basques in extradition danger.

London-based Basque pro-independence youth Garikoitz Ibarluzea was arrested last week in his work place by police and has been in jail since.

A campaign has been already organised and can be joined on Facebook:

He appeared via video link in the London Court last Monday to hear about the Spanish extradition request against him. Supporters outside the court buildings claimed the charges are false and based on testimonies gained under torture. Garikoitz himself was tortured in 2002 and moved to London in 2006.

Another Basque facing extradition risk is Belfast based Iñaki de Juana. His case is on appeal at the Belfast High Court. An emergency public meeting regarding the extradition of Iñaki de Juana to Spain will be held on Friday night, March 26, at 7.30pm at Caulfield’s Bar in west Belfast.

The meeting will be addressed by speakers including a Sinn Fein Assembly member, Michael Culbert from ex-prisoners’ support group Coiste, and Iñaki de Juana’s legal team. Veteran Republican activist Joe Austin will chair the discussion.

The event aims to highlight the grave miscarriage of justice that is unfolding, and to show that the local community is rallying behind Iñaki.

The discussion will be followed by a solidarity night with local musicians performing.

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