23 July 2010

BASQUE INFO 14 & 21/07/10

• Pro-Independence solidarity and strength displayed in two nations
• Udalbiltza case begins with great show of support
• Youth mobilise for independence during the summer despite criminalization
• Prisoner loses 20 kilos on hunger strike

Pro-Independence solidarity and strength displayed in two nations

More than 10,000 people rallied in Donostia San Sebastian on the 10th of July to demand self-determination. The demonstration had been called by three Left pro-Independence parties to show solidarity in addition to the Catalan people who were demonstrating in Barcelona at the same time. Over one million people took part in the largest demonstration for self-government in Catalonia to protest against the Spanish authorities’ latest attack on Catalan autonomy.

Representatives of both nations attended the other’s rally in Donostia and Barcelona.

In Donostia the speakers said the demonstration was another step in the building of a broad pro-independence movement in the Basque Country. They said that the Country is on the move towards a new political scenario with resolution and commitment. They also called upon all political and social agencies and trade unions to join forces and establish alliances to work in the same direction.

Udalbiltza case begins with great show of support
On the 15th of July a trial started in the Spanish national court in Madrid against 22 Basque former councillors and mayors for their work in Udalbitza, the first Basque national institution. Udalbiltza was created in 1999 by 2,000 nationalist elected representatives to promote nation-building across the Basque Country. Since then the institution has been involved in many different projects to promote basque culture, true national bodies and help economic developing in deprived regions.

Now the 22 former elected representatives are facing between 15 and 20 years in jail as they are accused of being members of ETA for their political, public and peaceful work within Udalbiltza.

A broad support campaign has been organised and there have been many public expressions of support from different sections such as political parties, trade unions, culture, sport organisations and individuals and even from the international arena.

Around 10,000 people marched in Bilbao last Saturday to support the indicted.
There were representatives of all the Basque nationalist parties and even some Councillors of the Spanish Labour Party (in Government in Madrid and in the Basque autonomous region) took part in the demonstration.

The Egunkaria case is in everybody´s mind. The huge and broad support shown by Basque society brought about the absolving of all the indicted by the Spanish national court. The same lack of evidence and the clear political nature of both cases prove that the Udalbiltza case should also be thrown out. Nevetheless the solicitors have protested the attack on the right to defence as the Tribunal has refused to admit two experts’ testimonies and all the 165 documentary evidence, allowing only 20 witnesses out of the 140 presented by the defence. Among those prevented from taking part in the trial as witnesses are Irish priest Alec Reid, Scottish National Party MP Lloyd Quinan and former Idaho Senator Pete Cenarrusa.
The trial will continue this week and will then break for the summer until September.

Youth mobilise for independence during the summer despite criminalization
Basque youth will be very busy this summer as pro-independence mountain marches have been organised in every province of the Basque Country. The marches have the common slogan of “Wave the red flag!” and will last for at least three days.
Many more pro-Independence local events have been organised by the youth in festivals across the Basque Country.
Organised by the Basque pro-Independence youth organization SEGI, 200 youth marched in the northern Basque town of Biarritz on the 14th of July, the French national day, to denounce the French state and the capitalist system for their responsibility in the assimilation and oppression process in the Basque Country.
Meanwhile seventeen youth activists from Donostia San Sebastian have been tried in the Spanish National Court in Madrid for their alleged work in SEGI. Twenty-six were arrested in 2005 and most of them reported being tortured before being sent to jail. Now they are waiting for their sentences which could be up to 8 years in prison. Over past years another sixteen police operations of this kind have taken place against the pro-Independence youth organization SEGI which is banned in the Southern Basque Country.

Prisoner loses 20 kilos on hunger strike
Basque political prisoner Arkaitz Agirregabiria ended a 33-day hunger-strike against solitary confinement last Monday after reaching an agreement with the Director of the French jail where he is held. He will at last be transferred to another jail with other comrades. He has lost 20 kilos during the protest.
Another two prisoners who were arrested with Arkaitz last May are still on hunger-strike for the same reason in other French jails and some other comrades have begun hunger-strikes in solidarity with them.
Another prisoner is on hunger-strike in a southern Spanish jail to protest against the prison guards’ harassment and another is on hunger-strike in Portugal to protest against the appalling living conditions in which he is held.

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