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Basque Country: Political activities are forbidden

Statement from Basque Internationalist Organisation Askapena

Source: Askapena

On the 14th October, in the HQ in Donostia (capital of the Gipuzkoa province) of the pro-Independence Left trade union LAB, the Spanish police arrested 10 well-known public activists, on the charge of being the political leadership of Batasuna. This is the popular organisation of the Basque pro-Independence Left, which had been banned by the Spanish courts in 2003 but which continued to be active to the present day. The HQ of the trade union was totally surrounded and taken possession of by the repressive forces for a number of hours. Those trade unionists who happened to be in the HQ were identified and confined to a room for a number of hours, among which was Rafa Diez Usabiaga, ex-leader of LAB.

Detained in another room were Arnaldo Otegi, Rufi Etxebarria, Sonia Jacinto and Arkaitz Rodriquez, in which Rafa Diez Usabiaga was later confined. Also arrested were Manel Ugarte, Amaia Esnal, Ainara Oiz, Txeluis Moreno and Miren Zabaleta. All of the arrested are currently being held incommunicado. These extremely serious acts, carried out under the signature of Baltasar Garzón, judge of the Spanish Audiencia Nacional (National Court), have nevertheless their origin in the Zapatero government. Yet in previous days the government newspaper El País was making much of the idea that these same leaders had been disowned by ETA, as a result of their alleged political position in contradiction to the armed struggle. And why then are they being detained?

The subsidiary reaction to the events in the Basque Country of the Socialist Party of Zapatero has been to say on the one hand that “they had no important political initiative in hand”, that “this operation has been the same as others previously in that they were organising the political direction of Batasuna”. On the other hand, they underlined that “we are in a new political phase that is difficult to define in a few words”. Perhaps the novelty is in the stigmatisation and fascist criminalisation of the prisoners whose photos have been de facto forbidden from being shown in public? Is the novelty of this political phase the disappearance for four months of the activist Jon Anza in French territory? The neo-Francoist drive of Spanish governments of the past decade of banning political parties and community (social) associations, criticised by some parties in the Basque arena but always supported in the final outcome: certainly there is nothing new there. Neither is there anything new in this drive by regimes of neo-fascist orientation which is, with regard to the struggle for independence and socialism in the Basque Country, totally fruitless with regard to its objective: to paralyse and to bring to a ridiculous pass the movement that sustains it, the Basque pro-Independence Left. Neither ETA nor Batasuna has disappeared, nor has the anti-repression movement, nor the social struggles sustained by the Basque Left. Much to the contrary, the pro-Independence Basque Left has given proof of vitality in the many legal mass mobilisations, including also in some cases those that were banned.

The banned pro-Independence Left, during the decade in which it was banned, has presented itself in elections under tens of different names and has renewed its participation in institutions of all kinds, that 15-20% of the electorate again and again making their mark, including in extra-legal manner, in each electoral contest. To summarise: it continues with the political initiative energetically.

During the past months in the Basque Country the intention of the pro-Independence Left to invest hugely in the future, in the agreement which has been called the Pro-Sovereignty Pole, has been increasingly public and marked. Arnaldo Otegi himself has announced important new initiatives for this autumn. It can have escaped no-one that to avoid the political inertia in which this initiative was located has been the pivot of yesterday’s warlike act of the Spanish PSOE government, with the total connivance of the Spanish Popular Party (political heirs of Franco). The arrests of these ten activists, in addition to being denounced by the pro-Independence Left, being also denounced by the parties Ezker Batua—Izquierda Unida, Aralar, Eusko Alkartasuna and the trade union ELA, will achieve nothing more than to delay the political process a little. Without doubt, it will increase the quota of suffering and pain that the Basque Country will have to pay for the intention of constructing a Basque language, feminist, internationalist and socialist future on the basis of universal suffrage.

From Askapena we call for the denunciation with all possible strength of these fascist acts of the Spanish government, activating where possible internationalist solidarity with the Basque Country, in order to raise, little by little, this veil of silence and misrepresentation which the mass media and the allies of the neoliberal system have drawn in Europe and the World, over the reality of exploitation and struggle which is developing in the Basque Country.

BATASUNA statement on the arrest of 10 activists of the pro-independencemovement

On the 13th of October 2009 the Spanish National Police arrested 10members of the Basque pro-independence movement. Among them Arnaldo Otegi,leader and spokesperson of Batasuna during the last peace process in theBasque Country, Rafa Diez, former National Secretary of the Trade UnionLAB and Rufino Etxeberria, member of the Negotiation Committee during lastpeace process.

FIRST, Batasuna strongly condemns these political and judicial arrests.

SECOND, this is not the consequence of a judicial procedure but of a POLITICAL decision. As it is publicly known, the Basque pro-independencemovement has been and is immersed in an internal debate. The aim of thesearrests is to stop political initiatives that the Basque pro-independencemovement was due to activate - political initiatives to resolve theongoing conflict and to create a democratic scenario for the BasqueCountry.

THIRD, this is an attack against the whole of the Basque Country. TheBasque Country needs a democratic scenario - a scenario based on thecapacity of Basque society to decide upon its own future. The social andpolitical majority in the Basque Country is in favour of a democratictransformation. This is why we believe that even if this has been aserious attack against democracy in the Basque Country we will be able toovercome it. It has clearly shown the aim of the Spanish Government: tostop all steps forward in favour of a democratic solution of the Basqueconflict.

FOURTH, finally we want to conclude saying that:

- The Spanish State will never be able to make the left pro-independencemovement, Batasuna and the Basque Country disappear.

- We want all Political and Trade Union forces in the Basque Country toknow that we are determined to take our responsibilities and to continueworking to open a new democratic scenario for the Basque Country.

- We call on the national and international community to act withresponsibility.