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.