27 December 2011

Basque Info 14th-26th December

In this issue:
• Important declaration from the Gernika Agreement signatories regarding victims of all violence

• No positive responses from Spain and France to ETA’s move says International Contact Group

• In Brief: Navarre declares against prisoners dispersal policy; Otegi speaks from prison; Spanish Parliament denies own Parliamentary Group to Amaiur; Extraditions.

Important declaration from Gernika Agreement signatories regarding victims of all violence

The signatories of the Gernika Agreement for conflict resolution, the Abertzale Left among them, launched a new document to state their position in relation to the issue of conflict victims.

They consider the recognition of all victims of all violence to be an important step in advancing towards overcoming the conflict. They reaffirm “the necessity of recognition, reconciliation and reparation of all victims that the political conflict has given rise to and the reality of multilateral violences”.

The suffering caused by the conflict has been great and in the text they mention it and make clear that “the pain and suffering of each part of the conflict can’t be, and shouldn’t be, measured.”

They show their sorrow to those who have suffered some type of violence, be it that from ETA or from the Spanish or French states. They recognize the pain and suffering that violence has caused among people.

To advance to building a fair and lasting peace, it is necessary to recognize all of the pain suffered, they believe and that it is important for “the truth to be known, each and every truth that forms a part of it.”

The subject of victims being so delicate, they understand that it has to be treated with care and respect without it being used as a weapon in the political debate. They champion adopting measures, individually as well as collectively, towards repairing the damage caused and restoring the violated rights of the victims.

They affirm that their objective is “a society in which everyone can exercise their rights and see them respected” for which there must be an advance on the path to reconciliation and mutual respect.

Finally they declare that the best guarantee that situations of violence and violations of human rights never occur is the definitive overcoming of the political conflict. For that it would be important to open a process of dialogue among the whole of Basque political forces to deal with the final closure of the causes of the conflict.

No positive responses from Spain and France to ETA’s move says International Contact Group

The International Contact Group (IGC) announced a new initiative with the objective of putting in place the mechanisms for moving forward the recommendations covered in the Declaration of Aiete.

The members of the IGC met a few days ago in London. The objective of the meeting was to continue the work for whic they cam into being: that of promoting, facilitating and speeding up the resolution of the conflict in the Basque Country.

In the meeting they evaluated events relating to the resolution process that have occurred since the Aiete Conference. In the press release sent out after the meeting they stated that “neither the Spanish Government nor the French Government have responded positively to the declaration by ETA.”

In spite of that the IGC has decided to continue with their work and “collaborate with international leaders to establish steps towards the formation of a committee to follow the recommendations that are contained in the declaration.”

The IGC affirms that it will continue observing the evolution of the situation and they are disposed to support and promote ways to foment confidence in public opinion, including dialogue with civil society and with all political parties.

In brief:

Navarre’s parliament declares against dispersal policy:
For the first time ever the parliament of Navarre (one of the two autonomous communities comprising the southern Basque Country) passed a motion against the dispersal policy implemented on Basque political prisoners. As a consequence of such policy the 686 Basque political prisoners are scattered in 85 jails across France and Spain. The motion was passed with the support of the Socialist Party (soc. dem.) which had been in government in Madrid until losing the Spanish general elections two months ago.

Arnaldo Otegi speaks from prison: One of the main Spanish radio stations interviewed, through a written questionnaire, imprisoned Basque pro-independence leader Arnaldo Otegi. In the interview Otegi told Spanish public opinion that it should now face up the solution of the consequences of the conflict.

Spanish parliament denies a group of its own to Amaiur: The right-wing PP used their absolute majority to leave Basque pro-independence Amaiur without their own group in Parliament. As a consequence Amaiur will be permitted less time for speeches and funds and won’t be able to take part in meetings on state security matters. Amaiur, for their part, denounced the political motivation of this decision and announced an appeal.

Basque political refugee Ventura Tomé was extradited from Belgium last week. Meanwhile hearings were held on the cases of Basque refugees Fermin Vila (Belfast), Eneko Gogeskoetxea (London) and Xabier Agirre (Brussels).

14 December 2011

Basque Info 29th Nov-13th Dec

In this edition:
• Campaign for repatriation of Basque political prisoners gains momentum
• Strong demand for a democratic resolution

Campaign for repatriation of Basque political prisoners gains momentum

Basque political prisoners continue to suffer the consequences of the special prison policy of the French and Spanish states. They continue to be imprisoned hundreds of kilometres away from their families and friends despite the wishes of the majority of Basque society.

That is the reason for the unceasing public demonstrations demanding the repatriation of political prisoners and respect for their rights. Social agencies, political parties and trade unions have shown their support for the national march in favor of the prisoners to take place on January 7th, organised by the ad-hoc umbrella group Egin Dezagun Bidea (Let’s Make the Way).

Besides showing their agreement with this demonstration, these agencies wished to make strong commitments in defence of the rights of Basque political prisoners. According to them the prisoners’ suffering requires it and turning the direction of penitentiary policy towards the resolution of the conflict is an urgent goal. Because of that they have called for diverse mobilizations to raise public awareness from here until January 7th. One of the most important will be the rotating fast from December 12th to December 18th in which trade unionists, youth association members, teachers, students, feminists, representatives of political parties and institutions will take part in 24-hour shifts.

New steps are being taken by the Prisoners’ Association in the context of the current political situation in the Basque Country brought about by the strategy put in place over the past two years by the Basque Pro-Independence Left.

Through a statement published in the newspaper Gara last Saturday, the Basque Political Prisoners’ Association shared with Basque society their reflections and gave an account of the initiatives they will take in the coming weeks.

The statement was published on the 10th December, International Human Rights Day. That is why some of the human rights violations that the Basque Country suffers were named, specifically cultural, linguistic and political rights.

The statement announced an important initiative in the coming weeks to end the dispersal policy (700 prisoners scattered among 85 jails) that they and especially their families suffer:

“With this new initiative we wish to demand an end to the dispersal policy and to ask for our re-allocation. The is not a new demand but we wish to renew it because it is our right, it is the right of our family members and friends, because it is the right of our people. The penitentiary policy, the dispersal policy does not only target political prisoners, it is an added punishment for our families and friends. This policy initiated a quarter of a century ago today means prolonging the political blackmail of this people and hindering the political process with traps and attacks.

“An attack that Basque forces favoring a political resolution cannot permit. For the states nothing more than giving a positive response is needed, without delay. They have the whole people in front of them, even those who until today have promoted, defended and accepted the cruelty and violence of the penitentiary policy. Ending that is an urgent democratic necessity. It’s time to make valiant, profound and democratic decisions. The road map of resolution demands it.”

“Every one of us is going to make a petition to be transferred to the Basque Country in the coming days. A petition that we announce and support through this statement.

“If we are regrouped in the Basque Country we could give our active and positive support to the political process.”

The Association demands that ill prisoners be set free, also those who a long time ago should have been paroled and those who have had their sentences lengthened in an irregular way.

They call on the governments of Spain and France to respond to this demand. They also feel that the international community should involve themselves with this subject and encourage them to take decisive steps.

Four hundred former Basque Political prisoners from different generations participated in a massive press conference on Sunday in which they showed their total support for “the reflections and petitions made public” the previous day by the Basque Political Prisoners’ Association. They said that the time of repression and suffering must be overcome and an important step on this path is bringing home all of the prisoners and those on the run.

Strong demand for democratic resolution

4,000 people marched in Baiona (northern Basque Country) last Saturday to demand from the Spanish and French states a conflict resolution process. The march was supported by all Basque nationalist parties and also the Basque branches of the French Socialist Party, Green Party and New Anticapitalist Party as well as trade unions. ‘Wanted’ Basque political activists Aurore Martin and Josu Esparza attended the rally also.

Forty-eight hours later Josu Esparza was arrested, extradited to Spain and imprisoned. Another two Basque pro-independence activists have been arrested also today by French police in the northern Basque Country. The arrests have been deemed as a provocation by the organisers of last Saturday’s march.