30 July 2009


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BASQUE INFO 28/07/09

• Former Basque prisoner kidnapped and tortured.
• ETA destroys police barracks.
• Repression news.

-Former Basque prisoner kidnapped and tortured.

Former Basque prisoner and pro-independence activist Alain Berastegi denounced last week that he was kidnapped and tortured in a forest by ten masked men on the 17th of July.

Everything started when he was call to do a building job in Irunberri, near Irunea/Pamplona. Two men asked him to follow them to a forest where they said they had an old farm they wanted to refurbish. It was there where another ten men wearing masks and guns were waiting for him. They questioned and tortured him for 7 hours.

They beat him and asphyxiated him with a plastic bag.

The masked men, most probably Spanish policemen, asked him to collaborate with them. They offered him money and threatened him with arrest if he didn’t help him or if he denounced what happened.

Alain was released after being told to meet them again in another day in the following days. Instead the former Basque prisoner denounced what happened to him in court and in a press conference.

The organisation against repression Askatasuna said that this is the new 21st century dirty war but reminded people that it was the Spanish Labour government which set up the GAL death squads in the 80’s. The Spanish Labour Party is again in power in Spain.

In the last 6 months 4 former political prisoners and pro-independence activists have been kidnapped and one of them is still missing.

Askatasuna denounced the main political parties and mass media silence around these kidnappings.

-ETA destroys police barracks.

A strong van bomb destroyed the Spanish Guardia Civil police barracks in Burgos near the Basque Country at 4am today. 47 people were injured.

Spanish authorities fear ETA will launch more strong attacks in coming days.

Some analysts set the 31st of July 1959 as the ETA’s creation day.

The pro-independence movement said on a statement that it’s impossible to defeat ETA through police means and that the only way to resolve the political conflict it’s through inclusice dialogue, negotiation and respect the Basque people’s rights.


Two pro-independence youths have been arrested in the early hours of today by the Spanish Guardia Civil police. One of them is surfer champion Iker Acero. The arrested pair have been taken to the Basque youth website Gaztesarea offices in what seems to be an operation against this popular communication project.

Last week 38-year-old Basque political refugee Ekai Alkorta was arrested in the north of the Basque Country under French administration and sent to prison following an arrest warrant issued by the Spanish Special Court.
Young pro-independence activist Xan Beyrie was also imprisoned after his solicitor's appeal was refused by the French judges. He was previously arrested along with 12 pro-independence youths in the north of the Basque Country at the end of June and was released on bail.

The Basque-Spanish police continues with its campaign to make all expressions of solidarity with Basque political prisoners disappear. Prisoners' pictures and solidarity banners are being taken off walls, festivals, balconies, bars...The largest Basque trade union ELA denounced this practice and reminded people that Basque political prisoners are scattered in jails around France and Spain while many of them should be released under Spanish law after finishing their sentences or due to serious illnesses.

Basque political prisoners’ relatives association Etxerat called for the resignation of the Basque Interior Minister after he said he was disgusted by the prisonsers' pictures and solidarity events. The relatives said he knows he has lost the battle to make the Basque prisoners solidarity events disppear.

Last week the Spanish Supreme Court ordered the disbanding of all local pro-independence ANV/Basque Nationalist Action councillors groups. Elorrio town’s pro-independence mayor said they’ve been denied public funds and that this is yet another step in the process of banning the ANV party.

A Basque volunteers’ garden of remembrance was riddled with bullets two weeks ago and was defaced with pro-Spanish graffiti over the last weekend in Oiartzun, near Donostia/San Sebastian.

The Spanish Coordination to Prevent Torture group said last week the Spanish authorities promote torture and impunity after the Spanish government failed to comply with the implementation of the Nacional Mechanism to Prevent Torture.

150 Basque, European and American lawyers signed a petition to ask for the immediate release of Basque political prisoners' solicitor Inaki Goioaga. Inaki was arrested one month ago and accused of helping in an attempt prison escape in 2007. The arrest has been seen as an effort to threaten the Basque political prisoners’ solicitors work.

28 July 2009


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Basque Info 22/07/09

• Three months without Jon.
• Attacks against Basque prisoners.
• Protest against Spanish forces parade.
• Homage to dead refugee.

-Three months without Jon.

Basque political prisoner Jon Anza was released after 20 years in jail and then moved to the north of the Basque Country to be free from Spanish police harassment. Three months ago he went missing. His family and the Basque pro-independence movement have said the Spanish secret services and the French government are responsible for his disappearance. ETA said in a statement that Jon was a member of the organization at the time he went missing.

Other Basque political refugees were kidnapped, tortured and killed by pro-Spanish death squads in collusion with Spanish and French police in the 80’s and some of them are still missing.

In an interview carried out by the newspaper Gara over the last weekend Jon Anza’s girlfriend speaks of the hard three months herself and Jon's other relatives and friends are having not knowing what happened to him. She denounces the political parties and mass media silence surrounding the case and expresses her sorrow. Jon Anza’s girlfriend goes on to say it’s been a political kidnapping. She thanks the people for their support and campaign across the Basque Country.

Posters with Jon Anza’s face asking where is he can be seen on walls and banners around the country and protests are constantly being held.

The Basque pro-independence movement accused the Spanish government of reactivating the dirty war and pointed at the French government as an accomplice in it. At a press conference last week pro-independence spokespersons reaffirmed their commitment to continue working to achieve an democratic scenario and warned that the dirty war won’t distract them from that work.

-Attacks against Basque prisoners.

Basque political prisoners in three different Spanish jails were attacked by guards and taken to solitary confinement. This situation happens often and sometimes prisoners have to go on hunger strike to denounce them and get their basic rights respected. This is the case of Sebas Lasa who entered his 9th day on hunger strike today. He’s already lost 6 kilos.

A former Basque prisoner saw his parents' house attacked last week just two days after being released. The Goikoetxea family’s house was painted with threats and the entrance was burnt in broad daylight. Another son is currently in jail.

-Protest against Spanish forces parade.

One hundred people gathered in Donostia/San Sebastian last Thursday to protest against the annual Spanish occupation forces parade. The short 50-metre parade was attended by top heads of the Spanish army and police forces along some with pro-Spanish local politicians. Dozens of Basque-Spanish policemen looked after them but couldn’t avoid the protesters’ slogans being heard. The main banner asked them where is the disappeared ETA activist Jon Anza.

-Homage to dead refugee.

Basque political refugee Joxe Antonio Otxanesana who passed away in Mexico a few weeks ago was remembered in a rally in his home town of Ondarru last Sunday. 300 people took part in a very emotional rally where his life was celebrated. He had to go on the run when he was 27 and he spent the next three decades in Mexico where he become very well known for helping other Basque escapees.

Speakers at the rally spoke of the Spanish authorities witch hunt against Basque political refugees and the recent arrests in Ireland, Venezuela and the north of the Basque Country and the disappereance of Jon Anza. They said hundreds of Basques had to escape to be free from torture and jail and declared that the pro-independence movement will continue fighting for a democratic solution to the conflict to make the return of all of them possible.


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Basque Info 14/07/09

• Basque prisoner enters 30th year in jail.
• ETA’s attack.
• Spanish flag burnt.
• Hundreds at demonstration against repression.
• Basque political refugee layed to rest.
• March against High Speed Train.

-Basque prisoner enters 30th year in jail.

Basque prisoner Jose Mari Sagardui "Gatza", the oldest political prisoner in Europe has already spent 29 years in Spanish jails. According to Spanish law he should have been released in 2005. He’s spent most of his life in jail. His home town has seen many demonstrations for his support and even the Basque Autonomous Region’s Parliament has asked for his release.

Since his arrest on the 8th of July 1980 when he was brutally tortured, he has been in 13 different Spanish jails and in total he’s been transfered 34 times. In those 30 years he’s been in prisons in the Basque Country just twice, and only for a very short period.

He is currently being detained in Jaen’s jail, 730 kilometres from his home.

He has been a victim of the different Spanish prison policies including those of the cruel treatment in Carabanchel, the dispersal policy and currently the extreme confinement in Jaen. There is no natural light in his cell, and all his communications and movements are under strict control. He’s kept in isolation for 20 hours per day and under the hardest prison regime.

The Basque pro-amnesty movement has reiterated that despite the Spanish and French states not recognizing the political status of Basque prisoners, the measures they impose upon them are political.

Gatza has numerous obstacles to continue with his university studies and has many obstacles to get medical assistance.

Due to the relentless changes introduced by the Spanish authorities to act against the Basque political prisoners, Gatza has seen his remissions denied. He also saw his sentence modified and increased to 30 years.

-ETA’s attack.

Last Thursday an ETA bomb destroyed the Spanish Labour Party’s offices in Durango, near Bilbao. The police had previously sealed off the area but locals protested because they didn’t warn them of the danger.

-Spanish flag burnt.

The Spanish flag hanging from the balcony of the local government buildings in Gernika was burnt over the weekend. It’s within the building’s gardens where the Basque liberties’ symbol, the Gernika Tree is situated. Gernika was bombed in 1937 by the Spanish fascists in the first civilian bombing of history and killed 2,000 people.

The Spanish flag was hung there last April when the newly elected Spanish Labour Party’s Basque Autonomous Region Prime Minister took office.

-Hundreds at demonstration against repression.
Last Saturday hundreds of mainly young people rallied in the northern town of Donibane Lohitzune/Saint Jéan de Luz. The demonstration had been called by the pro-independence youth organization Segi to protest against the recent months French police operations. During the last protest at the end of June, 12 young people were arrested.

The march tried to reach the French Minister of Justice’s home but the police prevented the protesters by using tear gas.

After some confrontations the rally finally arrived to the end where speakers encouraged the Basque youth to continue organising themselves and working for the Basque Country.

-March against High Speed Train.
Last Saturday thousands of people protested in Bilbao against the High Speed Train (HST). The authorities controversial decission to build a HST trail in the Basque Country has resulted in massive opposition from pro-independence left-wing parties, trade unions, environmentalist groups, farmers organizations...etc. ETA has also repetedly attacked the works and killed a main constructor.

Speakers at the rally in Bilbao said that any person who is well informed of the damaging nature of the HST becomes a person against its construction. They said they will continue organising opposition across the city.

-Basque political refugee layed to rest.
30 years ago Joxe Antonio Otxoantesana had to escape from Spanish repression to Mexico. For three decades he helped Basque escapees in the north American country. He died last month from a brain haemorrhage. One of his sons last Sunday brought his ashes back to the Basque Country. Hundreds of people were waiting for him at the airport. Finally, hundreds more payed a well deserved hommage to Otxoantesana in his home town of Ondarru where his ashes were scattered into the sea.

Speakers at the rally remembered the public of the hundreds of Basque political refugees across the world.

Strasbourg’s judgement supports political apartheid.

Basque Info 7/07/09

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-Strasbourg’s judgement supports political apartheid.

As we informed listeners last week the European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, made a judgement related to the Spanish "Law on Political Parties". In the judgement the Court supported the bannings of pro-independence political parties in the Basque Country.

In a press conference pro-independence spokesperson Arnaldo Otegi said that the judgement does not contribute in any way to the political settlement of the Basque conflict, but just the opposite. Otegi continued: “We believe that it is a clear step backwards for fundamental rights and freedoms in the European framework which can affect other progressive organisations in the future if they raise questions about the legal framework of the states in which they act.”

According to Otegi the Court has accepted the reasoning and arguments initiated by the former government of Mr. Aznar's Popular Party, with the consent of the PSOE, aimed at preventing solutions in the Basque Country and to put in place a situation of permanent confrontation.

Otegi recalled that the "Law on Political Parties" - which was created ad hoc in order to ban Batasuna (and later on other political organisations supported by or related to the Basque pro-independence left) - came into being under the cover of the antiterrorist offensive initiated by the Bush Government. That war against “terrorism” permitted clear violations and restrictions of fundamental rights.

It is surprising that the Spanish conservative PP, which still has not condemned the dictatorship of Franco, and the Spanish Labour Party, which organised acts of State terrorism while in government in the past, are the ones who are pleased about the judgement.

The pro-independence left reasserts before the European community that there is no other way of settling the Basque conflict apart from inclusive dialogue and political negotiation, in a situation of non-violence and goodwill, leading to an agreement that recognises the democratic right of Basque citizens to decide on their own future, just as the European citizens of Ireland, Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Flanders or other countries.

-Basque activists still at risk of extradition.

Last week a hearing on the case of Basque political refugee Inaki Etxeberria was held in Caracas, Venezuela. The prosecution was in favour of dropping the case. The solidarity campaign denounced pressures from the Spanish authorities to get Inaki extradited. He’s still in jail awaiting the court’s decision.

The judge in the case of Belfast-based Basque activist Arturo “Benat” Villanueva decided last Friday to set the 25th of September as the date for the hearing on the extradition case. The hearing of Belfast-based Basque activist Inaki de Juana will also be held in September.

-More arrests in France.

Three alleged ETA members were arrested in the southern French region of Bearn last Saturday. According to the French police they seized guns, money, false ID’s and material to build weapons dumps in their car.

The other two alleged ETA members arrested last week after a road accident they had are still in hospital. Their injuries are not life threatening. Despite their condition, one of them, 20-year-old woman Oihana Mardaras, was taken in for questioning. She told her solicitors afterwards that she had been ill-treated by the French police.

-Political demands present at festivals.

On Monday 6th of July the Basque Country’s capital Irunea/Pamplona started its worlwide festivals of San Fermin. Around one million people come from across the world to take part in the festivals.

Last Saturday a demonstration took place in the city to defend Basque symbols which are under constant attack by the local pro-Spanish authorities and to remind visitors that Irunea/Pamplona is not Spain nor France but the Basque Country.

Another demonstration on Friday demanded the fiestas remain the people’s fiestas in opposition to the efforts made by the local authorities to turn them into a more elitist festival.

On Monday, just one hour after the fiestas started, the traditional champagne cheering in support of the Basque political prisoners and refugees took place.

Basque flags and flags demanding the repatriation of prisoners can be seen hanging in balconies, pro-independence posters and banners fill the walls and bars, political stickers and t-shirts are worn by thousands of people, dinners and demonstrations with the same demands are held...Struggle and partying are linked during the nine days of the San Fermin festivals and the same happens in hundreds of towns across the Basque Country over the summer.

2 July 2009

Basque Info radio program

Listen to this week's Basque Info program with the latest news and an interview with Diarmuid Breatnach, spokesperson of the Dublin Basque Solidarity Committee.


Basque Info 24th-30th June

-Repression increases.

12 people were arrested by the French police in the north of the Basque Country over the past few days. Despite not having official charges yet some media reported the arrests were part of an investigation into several 2007 attacks against estate agencies and tourism related businesses. Those attacks were claimed by the underground pro-independence group Irrintzi.

The arrests were protested by the anti-repression association Askatasuna and the pro-independence youth organisation Segi. They said that the arrests are a witch hunt aimed at increasing social control against the pro-independence movement. One of those arrested is the Segi’s spokesperson in the north of the Basque Country.

Hundreds of people rallied against the arrests in different towns across the north.

Last week we informed listeners of some arrests near Donostia/San Sebastian. The three alleged ETA members were finally imprisoned after five days incommunicado. Once in jail they told their solicitors they had been tortured.

Two suspected ETA members were arrested in Paris last Thursday and another two on Tuesday after suffering a road accident in the south of France. One of them had to be taken to hospital where his injuries are being treated as very serious. He’s unconscious.

During last week many pro-Spanish politicians publicly promoted police measures as the only way to solve the conflict. At the same time the Basque-Spanish police increased their harassment against Basque political prisoners support. They pressed and threatened bars and clubs owners, individuals and town councils to take off Basque political prisoners pictures from their walls and balconies. The police even arrested a young man for wearing a prisoners’ support sticker and prevented two former prisoners welcoming dinner and attacked another one.

The Basque pro-independence left released a statement to ask for political responsibility to politicians and mass media and to point out the impossibility of a police victory over ETA. The pro-independence left added that the political conflict can’t be reduced to an “antiterrorist” problem but quite the opposite. The majority of the Basque people demand respect for their nationality and their will to decide about their future in a free and democratic way. The pro-independence left reaffirrms that they will honestly promote negotiation and dialogue as the only alternative to find ways to resolve political problems.

-European court supports bannings.

The European Court of Human Rights released yesterday three judgements to support the Spanish bannings of Basque pro-independence parties. Surprisingly a Human Rights tribunal used the so-called European list of terrorist organisations which is not a law as a valid argument to defend its position.

The judgements will encourage the Spanish securocrats and helps to keep political apartheid in the Basque Country.

-Basque political refugee dies in Mexico.

Basque political refugee Joxe Antonio Otxoantesana aka “Ondarru” died last week from a brain hemorrhage. Ondarru had been living in Mexico for 30 years after he had to escape Spanish political repression. Since then he became an endless source of help to all Basque political escapees who arrived to Mexico in the 80’s and 90’s. The news of his sudden death quickly arrived to his home village where 250 people gathered to pay him a first and improvised homage.