30 March 2007
The Belfast Basque Committee is organising the IV IRISH-BASQUE NIGHT next Good Friday, 6th of April.
From 8.30pm at Conway Mill, Lower Falls Road, you will find Basque traditional musicians, Irish and Basque DJ's playing ska, reggae and Basque mixes, patxaran, t-shirts, video screenings...and many more surprises.
Previous editions have been a huge success. We ask everybody to come early to avoid disappointment as it always gets packed.
Tickets: £5 before 10pm / £8 after 10pm.Bring your own.
Basque outlawed Batasuna's spokesman Arnaldo Otegi assured the Basque left-wing nationalist movement "fulfilled meticulously the Political Parties Law" when they registered a new political party, Abertzale Sozialisten Batasuna (Basque Socialist Patriots Union), as a new "step" to facilitate the "democratic process."
During a news conference, where no questions were admitted, Otegi said the new political party fulfills meticulously the conditions established by the Political Parties Law, even if he considered the law as "absolutely anti-democratic."
Otegi gave the news conference accompanied by several Batasuna leaders such as Pernando Barrena, Joseba Permach, and Maite Diaz de Heredia.
The Basque leftwing nationalist leader highlighted the new framework has been made to build a new "democratic situation" and not to challenge anyone. He asked the political forces to be "rigorous in their analysis" and to show "the same level of compromise" as the Basque leftwing nationalist movement is doing to reach peace.
Basque Autonomous government :
Basque Government criticized also the Political Parties Law, saying that it doesn't serve to face "future." She reminded the Basque leftwing nationalist movement decided, since its Anoeta proposal, to follow pacific and democratic paths.
Basque activists filed papers with the Interior Ministry to create the new party.
Batasuna's political activities were banned by the Spanish National Court judge Baltasar Garzon on August 26, 2002. Afterwards, the Supreme Court outlawed and dissolved the party as it considered it was part of the armed band ETA.
Leftwing nationalism announced it will hold an event at the Bilbao Exhibition Centre Saturday in which they will unveil their offer, as representatives of the group noted during the presentation of the event.
Interior Ministry statement
In a statement, the Interior Ministry said some of the people promoting the new party may have links to Batasuna or other separatist organizations banned by Spanish courts, and prompted investigations into those facts.
"The name of the proposed new party, Abertzale Sozialisten Batasuna, sounds very much like Batasuna", it added. And the by-laws of the new group contain nothing to suggest it is anything but a follow-up to Batasuna, the ministry said. Prosecutors will study the petition to form the new party.
Spanish Police arrested the leader of banned Basque leftwing nationalist party Batasuna Wednesday to bring him to Madrid for a court hearing after he said he was stuck in the region because of a snowstorm.
Officers acting on a court order arrested Arnaldo Otegi at his home in the Basque town of Elgoibar, said a police official speaking on condition of anonymity because of rules that prevent her from giving her name put him in a militar plane and flied to MAdrid.
Officers were to bring Otegi to Madrid for a trial that was to have started earlier Wednesday. Arnaldo Otegi had been due to appear in a Madrid court earlier in the day to face charges of glorifying terrorism but had notified court officials that he could not make it on time due to snow blocking the road from the Basque Country.
The National Court had labeled Otegi's given reason for missing the start of the trial - a snowstorm that has snarled travel in the Basque Country - as unjustified. The Court said in a ruling that it had told the police to arrest him and deliver him for the hearing in Madrid at 6 pm (1700 GMT).
Otegi, who faces several court cases, was to stand trial this time on charges of praising terrorism, which is a crime in Spain. This case stems from remarks Otegi made at the funeral of 22-year-old Olaya Castresana, a suspected ETA member who was killed in 2001 when explosives she was preparing blew up. During the funeral, Otegi carried the coffin of Castresana and praised fallen ETA members as patriots.
After the trial walked free from Madrid's High Court on Wednesday after the state prosecutor dropped charges against him.
"The definitive solution and the possibility of obtaining it in a few weeks is on the table". Otegi.
Interview with Arnaldo Otegi
Arnaldo Otegi has been interviewed this weekend in Gara and, given the importance of both its words and the political moment; we have decided to reproduce the complete interview. Otegi approaches the necessity of the Basque Country to see the political parties urgently commit with the search of "an agreement that allows the construction of a process that guarantees a final scene of democracy for this country. But he not only raises the necessity to do it, but also the possibility of obtaining it in few weeks". In addition, it approaches other questions of the present time such as the offensive of the PP and the crisis in the PNV.
The political activity of the Basque pro-independence left is in these days is centred in the proposal for the resolution of the conflict that publicly forwarded its negotiating commission the past 7th February. Arnaldo Otegi explains that this proposal "is consequence of an effort made by the Basque pro-independence left to find an agreed and democratic solution to the two knots that feed the conflict: territoriality and right to decide". Arnaldo adds that is a "reasonable proposal that begins in the present situation and concludes in a autonomy framework of four territories that would only take effect if the citizenship of the two communities agreed with it. In addition sets an equality of opportunities scene for all the political projects. That is the solution to definitively overcome the conflict and what is upon the table".
There are those who say that either you accept my project or there is no solution, is blackmail…
This it is not our project. Our project is independence and socialism. What we maintain is to overcome the territorial division by means of a process of sum of wills, and that in a Autonomy framework for the four territories a possibility to, in equality of conditions, in peace and in democracy, fulfil all the projects can be materialized if that is the wish of the citizens of this country. That is not our project, that is democracy for this country. Those who say so should explain what is their solution. To maintain the territorial division and a political regime that prevents the materialization of some projects through democratic routes? That is not a solution.
What has been the reaction of the different parties?
What we see is that PNV and the PSOE try to get away from the debate of the proposal. To our understanding is because it is so scrupulously democratic that it cannot be attacked. I believe they show nothing but weakness, because on the one hand they say nothing about the proposal and on the other they offer no alternatives, maybe is because do not haveany or because they do not dare to make it public. We do not understand, for example, what problem the PNV has with this proposal.
The Government of Lakua said that it is weaker than Ibarretxe's Plan…
I believe that is neither reasonable nor credible to say that the proposal forwarded in the Parliament of Gasteiz for three territories, in the terms in which it was done, surpasses the one just forwarded by the Basque pro-independence left. The PNV made a pact of state in the 77, to manage a three-province territory without the right to decide. In any case, we want to understand that if the PNV believes so about the Basque pro-independence left proposal it will have no problem defending it. We propose a framework for four territories, not a scheme of integration or annexation of Nafarroa. The issue we raise is that the citizenship of Nafarroa, along with the one of the rest of territories, will build a new political framework. We do not suggest a sum of frameworks but a new one.
There are those who think that the PNV could go against it because in an autonomy of four it could lose the power that an autonomy to three has…
But I suppose that those who consider ourselves democrats understand that in a framework with democratic game rules everybody aspires to obtain hegemony. The game rules are very simple. Everyone will have to present the citizenship with its project and will be this one who will have to decide it free and democratically. If that decision happens because the PSOE, the PNV or the Basque pro-independence left has the hegemony, it will have to be accepted. We do not have any problem in that and do not think that the PNV has it either.
They publicly say that they are not going to seat with you while ETA violence continues or Batasuna does not distance itself from that violence…
The majority population of this country has the desire to begin multilateral political dialogue. In addition, this proposal looks for a reasonable approach to the rest of proposals on the table. On the issue of violence it is necessary to remember that ETA maintains a permanent cease-fire. To say in this situation that there is no will to engage in a dialogue that is to say, that they do not want to resolve this conflict democratically.
Do you think that the proposal will be tackled in the short term?
In the next weeks, the political forces, fundamentally those that block the democratic process must show their maximum commitment to approach one first step to be able to inform the Basque society that a process of negotiation and multilateral solid based political dialogue begins and that the objective is to reach a scene in which all the projects are possible.
Which are the forces that block that process of solution?
From our point of view the PNV and the PSOE, that neither debate the proposal nor offer alternatives. To explain why they do not want to look for solutions.
I insist, these parties assure that before seating with you to engage in dialogue
certain conditions around violence must be given …
We continued considering the methodology proposed in Anoeta valid. It seems that those political formation that do not follow Anoeta are the ones that refuse to develop the political dialogue. On the issue of ETA, what they have to do is to speak with ETA. But the blockade and the unfreezing of the process is an issue to be tackled by the parties' board. The political parties cannot wait any longer to close a commitment in our area of responsibility, which is to solve the conflict in political terms. And it is necessary to do it urgently, in the following weeks. At the moment the priority lies on the unblocking of the process at an integral and global way. With regard to the parties' responsibility, this country needs with urgency an agreement that will allow the construction of a process that will guarantee a final democracy scene for this country. It is necessary to do it urgently. If there is political will it is possible to be do it in the following weeks. That is what we are facing in this conjuncture.
Soon it will be a year since ETA announced permanent cease-fire. What valuation do you do of this period?
We have lived constant spaces of both ambiguity and the lack of commitment that have generated, instead of positives, continuous negative scenes. There are two elements that have been constant in these twelve months: the structural repression against the Basque pro-independence left and the lack of commitment to start a multilateral political dialogue. That is what causes a convulsive process. As opposed to that, the Basque pro-independence left bids to build a stable process, of mutual agreement and with guarantees for all the parts involved. That is what we are trying to build with the proposal forwarded by the negotiating commission. We pretend to stabilize our track, which at the same time stabilizes the process in global and integral terms.
Your latest comment that the State has no political price to pay either to ETA or Batasuna has brought about loads of attention, what do you mean by it?
Is very simple: that the Spanish State does not have a problem with ETA or Batasuna. At the most it will have a part of the problem. It has a problem with the Basque Country, that majority and democratically it demands to be recognized, that its right to decide and to vertebrate its territory be respected. For that reason, the State does not have to pay a political price to the Basque pro-independence left, must respect the agreement reached by the political forces of the Basque Country to resolve the conflict in democratic terms.
And do you think that taking into account the current behaviour of the PP towards Zapatero he can take or guarantee new steps?
We always have demanded historical ambition. The scenes that we are seeing remind us of the 1977 and 1978. They are practically same scenes, with the difference that in the 77 there was transition led by the pro-Franco sectors - political and biological parents of the PP- and therefore it was a non-democratic transition, that imposed to our country the territorial partition and the lack of decision making capacity, now there is the opportunity to carry out the democratic transition that was not done in the 1977. That happens through the recognition of the national rights of the peoples that are within the Spanish State. That is the open opportunity now. That should be done with the participation of the PP, but the problem is that this party is not in positions of democratic right but of extreme right.
Some sectors consider that, having in mind the harassment that Zapatero undergoes, the Basque pro-independence left should do something to facilitated things…
Without entering that scheme, it is necessary to remember that the Basque pro-independence left forwarded the Anoeta proposal, that ETA maintains a permanent cease-fire, that we are willing to speak in any condition and that we just presented another proposal - that is not our political project - that allows a democratic and agreed solution. That is to say, we have put on the table the definitive solution to the conflict and the conditions that make it possible can already be obtained. That is why to do it is so urgent. It is necessary to take that step, which is a task of historical dimensions. The PP is trying to deeply sabotage this change that could solve the problems that the pro-Franco reform did not resolve. It thinks that this way will be able to maintain the manipulated the pro-Franco reform and to win the elections.
Speaking of elections, which are practically around the corner, what is the Basque pro-independence left going to do?
The Basque pro-independence left is going to present itself. Firstly, we also have institutional fight vocation. We were born as popular unity to carry out among other things the institutional fight. We are not a formation that he wants to be outside the institutions, we also want to be an alternative in the institutions. Secondly, we are going present ourselves because from the institutions it is also possible to deepened in the process of solutions and, thirdly, because if we are not in the next elections those elections will not be democratic.
Are you thinking about legalizing some acronym or another formula?
We insist on our vocation and right to be in the elections, and that right must be respected. The resolution process needs to have the Basque pro-independence left in the elections , how can it be a process otherwise?
All the evidence in the 18/98 macro-trial against 52 members of leftwing nationalist groups has been heard. Those accused left court shouting "Up with a free Basque Country!"
In the morning, court president Angela Murillo let the 52 charged pronounce their last statements. Nevertheless, Murillo interrupted the session for six hours after those accused applauded the last words by their lawyer, Iñigo Iruin, voicing his solidarity with the 52 accused in the name of all defence lawyers.
Furthermore, the court rejected to admit the 15,000 self-incriminating signatures gathered by the groups in support of the 18/98. In turn, Spanish Police stopped a bus carrying supporters of those on the bench and took pictures of all of them.
Last day of long trial
The last session of this process that started one year and a half ago was held Wednesday, March 14. The theory "everything is ETA" ( diferent social and political organization as well as media are part of ETA) has been seriously questioned throughout the trial.
After 16 months of trial, those accused had the chance to defend themselves for the last time from the accusations for which the prosecutor requests almost 500 years in prison.
All the accused said they made their own the words pronounced by already deceased freeedom fighter Jokin Gorostidi. His words were "Yesterday like today, I'm kidnapped by the war strategy of the Spanish State. The Basque Country needs the word and the decision. They won't silence us until that is won. Let the Basque Country in peace, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Up with a free Basque Country!"
There have been all kinds of incidents and controversies in the trial: incomplete documents, lost evidence or out of place, biasing accusations to court members, and contradictory statements in which has been described as a "political trial."
Nevertheless, the Public Prosecution's Office and the Association of Terrorism Victims have maintained their accusations that such leftwing nationalist groups as KAS, EKIN and Xaki or the Josemi Zumalabe Foundation are part or collaborate with the armed band ETA.
Most Basque unions and parties have supported those accused in the case and demonstrated against it in several occasions voicing their solidarity, the last time on Saturday, March 10 when thousands of people march against the case.
Towards independence and socialism
EUSKAL HERRIA, STEP BY STEP,
ASKAPENA Information Service N. 169
In Spain there is no right wing party, or at least there is no evidence of it. The only organised expression is the PP political party, a feature of which is its closeness to the radical ultra right. As the elections are getting closer, and taking advantage of the lack of perspective by PSOE, the PP is intensifying its campaign against the PSOE. A campaign which is closer and closer to fascism.
Cheers for repression!
Physical or political elimination of the enemy is one of the most widespread strategies by fascism. In spain this strategy has turned into law: thanks to the cooperation between PSOE and PP the Law About Political Parties was passed. This law makes possible to eradicate politically thousands of citizens close to the Basque Patriotic Left Wing. Thanks to a more liberal interpretation of this very same law, a citizens' group had the chance of taking part in the Basque Parliament under the name of Communist Party of the Basque Territories.
The PP has never accepted this lighter interpretation of a law nowadays being in force. As the municipal elections are getting closer the PP is trying once again one of its old strategies: repression. One of its efforts consists in illegalising the Communist Party of the Basque Territories, nowadays the only political expression of the Basque Patriotic Left Wing. On the 20th of February this proposal was presented in the Parliament. For the first time the members of the Parliament did face fascism. The rest of the Parliament voted against the proposal giving no chance for its discussion. As a result, the ones introducing the proposal were left in a delicate situation, but even if so, they did not renounced their proposal.
On the 23rd of February, the anniversary of the unsuccessful 1981 coup d'etat, the PP presented that law proposal in the Basque Parliament. It was just the very same as in previous occasions: the rest of the political parties save for the PP rejected the proposal not even making use of their chance for argumentation. It was about time for both parliaments to reject ultra right.
Cheers for death!
Nobody can feel safe when fascism is furious. For a long time the Spanish law system has been a field used by the right wing as stronghold. As it was to be supposed, the resolutions taken by the judicature have been very well considered by the extreme right, which considered itself to be defender of the distinction and separation of the three power branches: legislative, executive and judicial. It is a mere mirage. Justice itself has to suffer fascism's wrath when it does not fulfil fascists' bigger and wider demands. Iñaki de Juana, Basque political prisoner by making a 115 day hunger strike has unmasked cruelty of the Spanish right wing.
As a preventive prisoner, he was condemned to 96 year imprisonment because he published two opinion articles. After revising his penalty, the previous 96 years were reduced to 12, later the Spanish High Court's penalty was equally revised and in the end, the 12 year penalty became a 3 year penalty. That was far too much for a vindictive Spanish right wing which wanted that the prisoner should die in Spanish prisons. One of the branches of the Spanish Popular Party, the Terrorism caused Victims' Association (AVT) took the streets to claim that the Spanish High Court was an accessory to the penalty reduction, something considered scandalous. On the 24th of February they organised a crowded demonstration in Madrid against the Spanish High Court's resolution and the Spanish High Court itself.
On the 1st of March, the Spanish Government obtained for Iñaki a second degree sentence and decides to move to Donosti granting to him a lighter degree of imprisonment. The evaluation of the decision was considered from different points of view. For the government it has been somehow a humanitarian decision. For Basque Patriotic Left Wing the PSOE has solved a problem that it originated, being forced by the people's pressure. For the PP, the Estate has been blackmailed by the terrorists. There have been not few people feeling more comfortable with the final decision, since the death of Iñaki, a political prisoner unjustly sentenced two times, was imminent. For the Spanish right wing it has been a catastrophe. A secure political victim they had, has escaped to them. They have not been able to materialise the death sentence they wanted for Iñaki. The right wing's reaction has been furious: violent demonstrations along the Spanish state, the announcement of a national demonstration, disqualifications for anybody who does not agree with them... The fascists' nature is more and more obvious.
"Ready to show their teeth"
The Basque bourgeoisie in government in the Basque Autonomic Region is also behaving in a fascist way. They do denounce the abuses by Spain, but they do take advantage of the situation and they do fulfil any order made by the Spanish government.
The Basque bourgeoisie rejects in theory the political apartheid, but they use it in order to get more political power than its share; in the same way they do in theory reject the Law About Political Parties, but they use it in order to repress the Basque Patriotic Left Wing. Last midst January "El País" newspaper informed of the strategy designed by the right wing Basque PNV to be carried out along with the PSOE in the Basque Country: to show the teeth to the Basque Patriotic Left Wing in order to deprive it of its freedom.
The political movement in favour of political amnesty, backing the struggle by the political prisoners collective, called a demonstration for the 24th of February under the slogan: "Amnesty and self-determination". As it has happened in the previous occasions the Spanish High Court forbid the event. There were various attempts in order to change the messages and identity of the organisers of the call. It was futile the Inner Department of the Basque Autonomic Government prohibited every attempt. Not only that. The 24th of February two hours before the demonstration, Bilbao was a city occupied by the police forces. Even if so, thousands of people of different ages met at the city centre, despite the police display. As the crowd congregates, the police units begin to surround ready for attacking. Nobody runs away, on the contrary, the crowd begins walking.
The police answer is sudden and devastating. The demonstrators sit on the road and the "Basque" police charges against them originating a big amount of casualties. The crowd undergoes police brutality. The crowd changes its route and as irrepressible as water itself, they continue along any streets in order to keep going. The Basque Autonomic Government has not assumed any responsibilities of what happened. As it does usually happen, it does transfer the responsibility to the repressed citizens. Paradigmatic.
Euskal Herria, 7th of March 2007
The rally organized Saturday afternoon in Bilbao to demand "self-determination" and "amnesty" turned into a pitched battle. Basque Police charged with force on demonstrators, while several of them clashed with the police.
At least 22 demonstratorS were injured. Several of them were seen at the Basurto Hospital. An 81-aged woman fractured her pelvis. One of Batasuna's leaders, Pernando Barrena was moved to the hospital, while Eusebio Lasa had to pass the night in the hospital as consequence of a hard blow received to the head.
Two demonstrators were arrested, among whom the Outlawed Batasuna's member Joseba Permach. He was released before midnight.
Just before the beginning of the rally, Basque police authorities said demonstrators they could not hold the rally, as banned by Spain's High Court. The rally was organized under the slogan "Hitza eta erabakia, lurraldetasuna eta aministia" ("Word and decision, territoriality and amnesty").
Seven police vans of the Basque Police and a helicopter blocked the beginning of the rally, in which participated outlawed Batasuna's spokesman Arnaldo Otegi and former spokesman of Gestoras Pro Amnistia Juan Mari Olano among others.
In front of the police cordon, demonstrators were shouting slogans such as "Bakerik ez, amnistiarik gabe" (No peace without aministy), "Euskal presoak, etxera" (Basque prisoners home) and slogans supporting the Basque prisoner Iñaki de Juana Chaos. A group of demonstrators were carrying a banner with the slogan "Self-determination. Amnesty."
Basque police deployed a cordon to prevent the rally and finally charged on the demonstrators. Several demonstrators, journalists and policemen were injured. Ambulances came to see them.
Pernando Barrena, spokesman of Basque outlawed party Batasuna, said today the brutal charge of the Basque Police during Saturday's banned rally in Bilbao was "the great contribution" of the Basque nationalist party PNV and its leader Imaz to make feasible the process towards a solution.
During a statement on Radio Euskadi, Barrena considered Josu Jon Imaz, leader of the Basque nationalist party PNV, as "political responsible" of what happened during the banned rally in Bilbao.
According to him, PNV leader Imaz "send a clear message to the socialist government in Madrid" about "how to deal with the Basque nationalist movement."
more photos at:
Iñaki de Juana Chaos ends hunger strike arriving to Basque Country as he said, after an heroic struggle and national and international solidarity and
Iñaki de Juana Chaos, an ETA prisoner on hunger strike for the past 114 days to protest his continuing imprisonment on a new, recent conviction for writing articles deemed as terrorist threats, decided Thursday to put an end to the hunger strike.
Juan Maria Olano, spokesman for Askatasuna, announced de Juana's decision some minutes before the Basque prisoner got the Donostia hospital.
"The main concern of Askatasuna .... now is that Inaki gets his health back and doesn't suffer any ill-effects from this dramatic hunger strike," said the spokesman for the Basque prisoners' association Askatasuna.
Spanish authorities moved de Juana from a Madrid hospital to one in the Basque region Thursday as a first step toward allowing him to serve the remainder of his sentence at home under custody.