1 April 2010

International declaration of support for democratic process launched

Basque Info 31/03/10

  • International declaration of support for democratic process launched
  • Two weeks after Jon Anza’s body was found, silence remains
  • International Conference on Self-Determination backs indicted Basque political representatives
  • Thousands demand economic model change
  • 8 youth arrested in the north
  • West Belfast supports Inaki de Juana’s fight against extradition

International declaration of support for democratic process launched

The former President of South Africa Frederick de Klerk, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds, former SDLP leader John Hume and former Irish President Mary Robinson and 16 other international leaders including four Nobel Peace Prize winners and people specialised in peace processes and conflict resolution yesterday launched a joint statement to support the democratic process in the Basque Country.

In a statement presented in the European Parliament by the South African mediator Brian Currin, the international leaders welcome and commend the proposed steps and new public commitment of the Basque Pro-independence Left to "exclusively political and democratic" means and a "total absence of violence" to attain its political goals.

In their opinion, "fully carried out, this commitment can be a major step in ending the last remaining conflict in Europe".

The statement continues: “We note the expectation that the coming months may present a situation where the commitment to peaceful, democratic and no-violent means becomes an irreversible reality. To that end, we appeal to ETA to support this commitment by declaring a permanent, fully verified ceasefire.

“Such a declaration, appropriately responded to by the Spanish Government, would permit new political and democratic efforts to advance, differences to be resolved and lasting peace attained".

Spanish politicians expressed their contempt when asked for their opinion by journalists but the majority of media and the Spanish government silenced the declaration.

The Basque Pro-Independence Left welcomed the international support for a democratic process based on dialogue, negotiation and respect of the Basque Country’s rights. According to the Basque Left the declaration will help to put the Basque Country in the international agenda.

Nevertheless the Basque Pro-Independence Left reminded people that the main workload and responsibility lies on the Basque Country and called on the Basque left to act and work together as this will be the engine of change and the only guarantor for political change.

The press release goes on to say that the upcoming Basque Homeland Day on Easter Sunday will be a great opportunity to show the French and Spanish states and the rest of the world that the democratic process is already in progress and that it is unstoppable.

Thousands upon thousands are expected to take part in the unitarian demonstration organised by the recently launched Independentistak network that will link the north and the south of the Basque Country on Easter Sunday.

The first Basque Homeland Day was organised in 1932 and it was inspired by the 1916 Irish Easter Rising. Since the first event was organised it has attracted dozens of thousands of people and it was banned during the 40-year Franco dictatorship.

Two weeks after Jon Anza’s body was found, silence remains

Many questions arose when the body of Basque former political prisoner and ETA member Jon Anza was found in a morgue in the French city of Toulouse. The body had been there for almost a year but apparently the police failed to find it.

Two weeks on and even more questions confront the official silence. Against normal procedures and without further explanation the hospital was told by the police to keep Jon Anza’s body in the morgue for almost one year. His passport was in the Lost Objects Office for months but it didn’t seem to be of any interest for the police. There is no explanation about the failure by police to respond after the hospital where Jon Anza was brought to semi-conscious reported his condition to the police three times.

The police haven’t questioned the owners of restaurants in the area where Jon Anza was found. The street cameras haven’t been checked.  

In the meantime protests continued over the weekend in the Basque Country, a multilingual blog about Jon Anza’s case has been censored, his family’s doctor was denied the right to take part at the autopsy and the hospital staff, municipal police and the fire brigade which found his body remain dead silent.

International Conference on Self-Determination backs indicted Basque political representatives

International experts on self-determination and representatives from Ireland, Brittany, Kurdistan, Catalonia and the Basque Country took part last weekend in a conference organised by Udalbiltza, the Basque political representatives national council, in Donostia/San Sebastian. 

Those who took part stressed the relevance of this right in modern Europe and showed their support for the 22 councillors indicted by the Spanish authorities for their work within Udalbiltza. The national institution was banned by the Spanish government in 2003, which alleged that it was set up under ETA’s instructions. Dozens of its members were arrested and imprisoned many of them. Three still remain in jail. The trial is expected to start soon and those indicted face long terms in jail accused of being members of ETA.

Thousands demand economic model change

More than 20,000 people took part last Saturday in demonstrations organised by the Basque nationalist trade unions in the southern four province’s capitals.
The demonstrations had been called to protest against the Spanish government recently announced labour reforms and to demand a new economic model.

The Basque nationalist trade unions hold the majority of representatives in the workers councils in the Basque Country, are class-conscious and are against social partnership and for an alternative economic model and self-determination.

8 youth arrested in the north

Eight pro-independence youth were arrested by the French police yesterday in the Basque province of Lapurdi. They have been accused of taking part in attacks against estate agencies. Hundreds of people protested in their home towns in the evening.

West Belfast supports Inaki de Juana against extradition

An emergency public meeting to raise awareness about the impending extradition of Belfast-based Basque ex-prisoner Iñaki de Juana held in Caulfield’s Bar in west Belfast on Friday March 26 resolved to strengthen the campaign to stop the extradition from proceeding.

The emergency meeting, attended by more than 100 people and chaired by veteran republican activist Joe Austin, was addressed by Sinn Fein MLA Paul Maskey, Michael Culbert from Coiste na n-Iarchimí, Niall Murphy from Kevin Winters Solicitors and Emma Clancy from the Don’t Extradite the Basques Campaign.

A sign-on statement calling for the extradition request to be rejected was launched at the event. Participants resolved that the next step in the campaign would be to seek a meeting with British government representatives to present the sign-on statement. A solidarity demonstration will also be organised to show the huge level of community support for de Juana at his appeal hearing in the High Court on June 28.

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