20 May 2010

Basque Info bulletin 19/05/10

• Massive demonstration in favour of the Basque language
• Hunger strikes and protests in jails
• International support for the Basque youth movement
• Latin-American revolutionaries’ grand children support the Basque Country

Massive demonstration in favour of the Basque language

Last Saturday thousands upon thousands rallied in Irunea/Pamplona to demand their right to live in the Basque language. According to the local pro-Spanish police and media 15,000 people took part. The organisers claimed it was the largest demonstration ever in the province in support of the Basque language.

Such a popular response didn’t come to much surprise although the organisers said their expectations had been surpassed. After years of contempt and attacks from the regional government there was a lot of anger within the community.

The Basque language is not official in all areas of the province of Navarre. Basque language schools have to overcome huge obstacles while the regional government promote English language schools as opposed to the Basque language ones, parents see their rights denied to take their children to Basque language medium schools, adults teaching organizations and media have seen their funds dramatically cut, civil servants are not required to be able to speak in Basque, the Basque speaking community are made invisible and constantly ignored...

The demonstrators had to confront the cold and rain but rallied in a very festive manner with displays of Basque traditions and culture through music and street animation.

At the end of the rally Paul Bilbao, the newly elected general secretary of Kontseilua, the Basque language community organizations council, demanded a new scenario for the national language including new policies and new laws.

He also said the successful demonstration was the starting point of a new phase of struggle to make reality the right to live in Basque language.

Hunger strikes and protests in jails

The Basque political prisoners in the southern Spanish jail of Jaen begun an indefinitive hunger strike last week to protest against the humiliating searches their relatives have to go through when going to visits. Among the prisoners is Jose Mari Sagardui “Gatza” who in July will be 30 years in jail.

Basque prisoner Joseba Fernandez ended last week a 30-day hunger strike he started to protest against him being the only Basque prisoner in the French jail of Poitiers. He is now with a comrade.

The 14 Basque political female prisoners in the French jail of Fleury were sent to solitary confinement last week due to their protests against the way one of them had been treated by the prison guards after an arson accident. The prisoner had to be taken to hospital for smoke poisoning and two broken wrists. One of the protesters was also beaten by guards.

Hundreds of people took part in the more than 60 weekly vigils across the country to support the rights of Basque political prisoners. There were also support events such dinners and games in various towns.

International support for the Basque youth movement

The new broad Basque pro-independence youth umbrella group GaztEHerria is touring Europe to gather support for their political and civil rights.

Last week they met political parties in the European and Flemish Parliaments. In Brussels they met with the European Free Alliance, the umbrella group for the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru among others and the European Left which includes Sinn Féin and other left-wing parties. All of them showed their support for the Basque youth and their campaign.

GaztEHerria was formed last March by many different Basque youth groups as a broad front for independence and youth rights. They organised a national event in Easter with thousands of youth in attendance and called a demonstration on the 29th of May in Brussels with the support of 50 revolutionary youth groups from across the world.

Latin-American revolutionaries’ grand children support the Basque Country

Last Saturday a hugely symbolic event was organised at the Simon Bolivar Museum in the small village of Bolibar near Bilbao. Simon Bolivar, who was of Basque descent, was the great liberator of the Americas and inspires the current Venezuela revolution.

At the museum the grand children of some other freedom fighters like Cesar Augusto Sandino, Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa gathered to pay tribute to their grand parents and to show their support for the democratic process in the Basque Country. Basque Pro-Independence Left spokesperson Tasio Erkizia said at the event it is very much appreciated such support and that the example of struggle for the social justice and freedom represented by Bolivar, Sandino, Zapata and Villa is very much alive in the Basque Country at these historical times.

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