5 June 2010

Basque Info podcast

Podcast including the main news of the week and an interview with an Ogra Shinn Féin activist who attended last Saturday's Basque youth demonstration in Brussels.

Basque Info 2/06/10

• Hundreds of Basque youth take their protest of abuse of their rights to Brussels
• Youth denounces being kidnapped on two occasions
• Basque prisoners end hunger strikes
• 100,000 give support to the Basque language schools
• Leaked police dossier shows how they treat detainees
• Protest organised in Dublin against Spanish EU presidency

Hundreds of Basque youth take their protest of abuse of their rights to Brussels

In March different Basque youth organizations joined forces and launched a new group called GaztEHerria (Youth Nation). Their first event was a successful day-long event on Good Friday. At a press conference that day speakers, supported by dozens of other countries’ young activists, called for a demonstration in Brussels to protest the attacks against the Basque pro-independence youth, especially after 36 of them had been arrested in a police operation last November.

Finally last Saturday and despite police check points and harassment en route, hundreds of Basque youth marched in Brussels for their political and civil rights. On their way each one was identified and recorded by the Spanish police. Due to the check points the demonstration started three hours late.

After thousands of kilometres and very little sleep the Basque youth marched on the streets of the European capital behind a banner that read “Freedom for the Basque Country” and to the astonishment of the local Belgians.

The participants held hundreds of Basque flags and chanted slogans like “We are youth -- not terrorists!” or “Continue fighting, continue organising!” Representatives of youth organisations from Ireland, Germany, Catalonia, Flanders, Italy and Kurdistan also took part in the demonstration.

Youth denounces being kidnapped on two occasions
At a press conference last Sunday, Mikeldi Zenigaonaindia, a young former Basque prisoner, publicly stated that he had been kidnapped by the Spanish police on two separate occasions over the past five months.

These actions occurred to other Basque nationalists last year and one of them, Jon Anza, was finally found dead after missing for eleven months. Eventually, supported by his community and the local town mayor, Mikeldi decided to overcome fear and tell his story.

He related being taken to the forest and threatened to spend the rest of his life in jail or even to be killed if he didn’t collaborate with the police.

The local council passed a motion demanding this type of harassment and kidnapping end.

Basque prisoners end hunger strikes
Basque political prisoners in the Spanish jail of Jaen ended their hunger strike after 18 days. They demand the end of humiliating intimate body searches on their way to visits. They haven’t had any visits over the past seven months. They also demanded dignified living conditions and the end of solitary confinement.

Also the Basque prisoners in the French jail of Tarascon put an end to their 14 days’ hunger strike after one of their comrades was taken out of solitary confinement and permitted to rejoin them in their prison block.

The council of Elgoibar town passed a motion last week demanding the release of local political prisoner and Basque Pro-Independence Left’s leader Arnaldo Otegi who was arrested last October, along with five other comrades, when they were promoting a debate for a new strategy based on political and democratic means.

100,000 give support to the Basque language schools

Last Sunday up to 100,000 people attended the annual festival in favour of the Basque language schools in the province of Biscay.

Those who went to the fishing town of Bermeo enjoyed a great day out with different events such as rock and folk music gigs, theatre, clowns, games and great local food and drink.

The regional pro-Spanish government authorities who attended had to hear numerous criticisms of their treatement of the Basque language despite it having official status in that part of the country.

Leaked police dossier shows how they treat detainees
After three Basque prisoners’ solicitors, one renowned artist and six former prisoners were arrested last 14th of April an official police document was found. It seems that a policeman lost it during the police operation.

The document has now been published by Basque newspapers. It gives very clear instructions as to what treatment should be given to the arrested. The solicitors and the artist should be “exquisitely” treated at all times while the interrogations conducted with rest of the detainees should “pursue the obtention of a declaration which will ratify the judge’s accusations”.

After the five days under the incommunicado regime the solicitors and the artist said they treated in a correct manner while the rest of the arrested reported being tortured with plastic bags, beatings and sexual harassment.

Protest organised in Dublin against Spanish EU presidency

This Friday the Dublin Basque Solidarity Committee calls all to attend the last in the series of three protests against the EU Presidency being held by a state in which repression of Basque political activists and torture is endemic, along with the renewal of state kidnap, torture and murder gangs. 16.30, Friday 4th June, Spanish Legation office, Molesworth Street, Dublin.

Basque Info 26/05/10

  • Thousands march in support of youth activists
  • Another successful Basque language festival
  • Alleged ETA activists arrested
  • “Time to stop playing with prisoners’ lives” say relatives

Thousands march in support of youth activists
6,500 people demonstrated in Irunea/Pamplona last Saturday against torture and bans on political parties as well as to support the Basque pro-independence youth. The demonstration was supported by many political parties, trade unions and community organisations.

Since the Basque pro-independence youth organisations were banned in 2001 more than 200 youth have been arrested across the Basque Country for their political work. During the police operation last November, 36 youth were arrested and many of them reported having being tortured.

Speakers at the end of the demonstration stated that the Spanish state is not a democratic one. They also stated unequivocally:
“We are pro-independence youth and we want to build the Basque state of the future. That’s why we work hard in our neighbourhoods and towns. Because of that the French and Spanish states brand us as terrorists. But despite that repression we will continue fighting until we get the type of Basque Country we want.”

They also called on the Basque society to build a solid wall of resistance against the attacks on civil and political rights.

Another successful Basque language festival
Despite obstacles put in place by the local pro-Spanish town Mayor, 30,000 people took part at the annual Basque language schools’ festival in Irunea/Pamplona last Sunday.

“Despite all obstacles”, the slogan chosen for this occasion, reflected the daily problems these schools have to face due to the policies of the Spanish unionist regional government.

The day-long festival had activities for all: food, workshops, live music, games, etc.

The festival has been growing in support over the past 15 years and raises much-needed funds for Basque-language public schools in the province of Navarre.

Alleged ETA activists arrested
Five people were arrested last Thursday near Baiona/Bayonne (northern Basque Country) by the French police.

Three of them were armed and according to the Spanish authorities one of them could be one of the ETA’s top men. The Spanish Interior Minister has been repeatedly branding all of the arrested over the past year with the same title.

Four of them were eventually confined to jail yesterday.

There were protests against the arrests over the weekend across the Basque Country.

“Time to stop playing with prisoners’ lives” say relatives.
The hard conditions Basque prisoners suffer in jail were denounced by their relatives at a a press conference last week.

Recently four prisoners received beatings, visits are lost on a regular basis due to the refusal to suffer humiliating intimate body searches, prisoners are being constantly transfered from jail to jail, sentences are being extended...

Some prisoners haven’t seen their relatives in many months.

One spokesperson said “The criminal prison policy is a laboratory of repression where they do continous tests.  Solitary confinment, isolation, blackmail and harassment is what we get every day.”