Thursday, October 30, 2003
American Lawyers Guild denounces violation of rights
It has called on the United States Government to ask Spain to “respect the rights of Basque citizens”
Imanol Murua Uria – DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has asked the State Department of the United States to request the Spanish Government “to respect the rights of Basque citizens.” The forum of 4,000 progressive lawyers of America has just held its yearly National Convention in Minneapolis, and has adopted a resolution denouncing the violation of certain basic rights in the Basque Country by the Spanish Government. The resolution will be forwarded to the United States State Department. The text approved in Minneapolis draws attention to the closing down of the newspapers Egin and Egunkaria, the outlawing of the political party Batasuna, and the complaints of torture, and calls on the United States Government directly “to ask the Spanish Government to respect the rights of Basque citizens as guaranteed in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.” This resolution points out that the UN Charter establishes the right “not to be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and not to be arbitrarily arrested” and the right to the presumption of innocence. It likewise calls on the United States Government to request the Spanish Government to uphold “the freedom of opinion and expression of Basque citizens, including the right to disseminate information and ideas through the media.”
The resolution adopted last weekend has its origins in the work conducted by a group of delegates that was in the Basque Country and Spain from September 26 to October 1. In fact, a working group made up of members of the NLG and the European Association of Democratic Lawyers conducted interviews in Madrid and in the Basque Country to investigate the breach of international agreements on human rights that has taken place. In Madrid they saw Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish National High Court judge, and Maria Garcia, the deputy secretary of the Ministry of Justice, among others, and in the Basque Country they met with Martxelo Otamendi, chief editor of BERRIA, Mertxe Aizpurua, Gara’s editor, representatives of the Lawyers Guild of Bizkaia and the “Eskubideak” (Rights) Lawyers Association.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
ELA union calls for minimum pact of those in favour of self-determination
They say a strategy is needed to fill the “gaps existing from a national viewpoint” in the Basque Autonomous Community Government’s proposal
Eider Goenaga – DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
The National Committee of the trade union ELA has called for “a minimum agreement to be reached among the different bodies in favour of the right to self-determination;” and among the three conditions that have to be taken into consideration in the agreement, it has proposed initiating a “parallel strategy” to fill “the gaps existing from a national viewpoint” in the bill approved by the Government of the BAC [Basque Autonomous Community of Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa]. This proposal is included in the declaration published by the ELA National Committee, which has assessed the BAC Government’s proposal for a new political statute.
In ELA’s view one positive point of the proposal for the new political statute is “to specify the principles on which the Basque nation’s right to self-determination is based,” and it also views the mere publishing of a codified text as positive: “because it makes the proposal more specific and leaves fewer opportunities for backing out.” Yet ELA says the agreement between the three political parties EAJ, EA and EB-IU “is not sufficient if a vitally important matter is to be confronted, and if the long-term bases for democratic coexistence and for resolving political conflict are to be established.” Despite acknowledging the “difficulties” for reaching agreement, ELA has called for a broader “minimum agreement” among the parties in favour of self-determination.
ELA believes that the “priority for the coming months” is the securing of this agreement, and has highlighted three aspects “that must be taken into consideration” when agreeing on the minimum points. The trade union is of the opinion that the proposal has to be “a plan for resolving the political conflict” and “all the parties which subscribe to the agreement have to regard it as useful and adequate for developing their own projects.”
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Now get this one, a week ago when the guerrilla offered to liberate the Basque backpacker Asier Huegun, the extreme-right president Alvaro Uribe refused it because the guerrilla leaders requested for members of the Autonomous Basque Government to be present at the hand out as a show of solidarity to the Basques and their struggle for self determination, and Uribe, a great friend of Jose Maria Aznar as he is does not recognize the existance of any Basque government.
Paco Rabanne’s universe in Trintxerpe
The presentation has taken place of the cultural centre scheduled to be built in the designer’s home town; the cultural centre, which will house and make the artist’s works known, will have an institute and museum, and its doors will be open to young creators
Ainara Gorostitzu – PASAIA (Gipuzkoa)
Paco Rabanne has received proposals for the building of his museum from all over the world, from Barcelona and Madrid, in particular, but the designer wants to create his universe, his cultural centre in his native town of Trintxerpe [a neighbourhood of Pasaia near San Sebastian]. “If the project goes ahead, it will be for my people, for Trintxerpe,” said the artist yesterday during the visit to see the site where they want to build his centre. Accompanied by the mayoress of Pasaia, Izaskun Gomez, the manager of Oarsoaldea S.A., Fernando Nebreda, and the architect, Julian Argilagos, Paco Rabanne presented “the open project” they want to build on the Herrera quay of Trintxerpe.
The Paco Rabanne Kulturgunea (cultural centre) will be a place that will bear witness to the designer who made it to the most important catwalks using recycled and recyclable material, and it will also house his awards. The architect Argilagos, responsible for the Balentziaga museum of Getaria and who will also design the one in Trintxerpe, said that the new museum would be “a stage for coexistence and cultural interaction.” The quay area of Trintxerpe will consist of four architectonic blocks: one will become the International Institute for Design and Industry based on on-going studies linking Rabanne’s philosophy with ecodesign; another the Paco Rabanne museum, the aim of which is to house the legacy of his works and of those of the designers that come after him; lastly there will be an area of ecohotels and a lecture theatre. In the words of the architect the cultural centre aims “to link culture, art and economy through ecodesign.” To this end continuous research into the new technologies, design and fashion will be needed.
Monday, October 27, 2003
Here you have a press release by International Basque Organization for Human Rights (IBO) regarding this issue:
Spanish Government Tries To Censor Film In London
El Correo Digital reports that the Spanish Embassy in England asked for the producers of the London Film Festival to withdraw a movie from their line-up. This movie, La Pelota Vasca, La Piel Contra La Piedra (Basque Ball, Skin Against Stone) tells the tale of the current Basque conflict, from all sides of the equation. It’s director, Julio Medem, wanted to give a fair representation of the political and social strife of the Basque region. Spanish officials seem to want nothing to do with such a concept. Spain’s Minister of Culture condemned the film without even seeing it.
The London Film Festival has refused to withdraw the movie. The consequence is that Spain has pulled its traditional subsidy to the festival, which is used to pay the expenses of Spanish participants. La Pelota Vasca is scheduled to play at the London Film Festival October 26 and 27.
For more information:
International Basque Organization For Human Rights
PO Box 225
Corte Madera, CA 94976
Sunday, October 26, 2003
Proposal for the new statute now in parliament’s hands
In an extraordinary meeting yesterday the Basque Autonomous Community Government approved the bill for a new political statute. The Lehendakari (President), Juan Jose Ibarretxe, said Basque citizens would be deciding their future “by using their vote”
Edurne Begiristarin – GASTEIZ (Vitoria)
The bill to reform the Statute of Gernika is now in the hands of the Parliament of the BAC (Basque Autonomous Community of Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa). The BAC Government approved the text yesterday in an extraordinary meeting held at Ajuria Enea, the BAC President’s official residence. The President, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, personally took the text of the new political statute of the BAC to the Parliament building and handed it to Juan Mari Atutxa, the Speaker of the Chamber, for it to be registered. The Parliamentary Presiding Committee will most likely classify it on November 4, and it is expected to take the form of a draft law. Following that, the parliamentary groups will have to debate it and the vote on it will be taken next year.
So the first step has been taken by Ibarretxe’s proposed pact for coexistence to replace the Statute of Gernika in force since 1979, and to develop a political pact “for the new generations.” That is how Ibarretxe referred to it yesterday after the meeting held with the BAC Government ministers. Ibarretxe said that the proposal approved by the EAJ, EA and the EB-IU parties was of immense importance and referred to yesterday as “a historic” day.
Ibarretxe appeared together with all the BAC Government ministers in the reception hall of Ajuria Enea and there he read out the official statement. “We, the BAC Government, want to move into a new era by assuming our institutional responsibility and by using the power that is enshrined in Article 46 of the Statute [of Gernika],” he said. He presented the bill as a “modern” proposal to seek solutions and to “live better” and one “which will establish the relationship of Euskadi (the BAC) with Spain, Europe and the world.”
Ibarretxe stressed the fact that the new Statute would not lead to any “split”, because its aim was to achieve a new sphere of coexistence with Spain.
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Spanish Government prepared to take legal measures
It regards the proposal which the Autonomous Community Government will be approving today as a “challenge” to all Spanish people
Agencies – MADRID
The Spanish Government says it is prepared to respond to the proposal of the Government of the BAC [Basque Autonomous Community of Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa] “with whatever legal and political initiatives are necessary at each moment.” In an appearance after the cabinet meeting the government spokesman, Eduardo Zaplana, read out the official declaration regarding the plan of Juan Jose Ibarretxe [the Lehendakari or President of the BAC Government] on the excuse that the codified text is scheduled to be approved today.
The declaration, however, not only regards the proposal as a “challenge” to the Spanish Government, but a “challenge” to all the Spanish people. So the Government is “demanding a response from the whole of the society and the solidarity of all Spanish people: of the economic and social bodies, of the intellectuals, of the associations and platforms promoting freedom and of the political parties based on democratic and constitutional values.” Zaplana added: “it [the plan] aims to take away the Spanish people’s status as sole holder of national sovereignty.” The Spanish Government spokesman did not specifically mention changing and beefing up the Criminal Code, but only said they were prepared to take “the necessary legal measures”. However, Jesus Caldera, the spokesman for the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Party) in the Spanish Lower House did bring up the subject and appealed for “calm” after emphasising that they were prepared to debate the matter.
Despite the fact that the day before yesterday Patxi Lopez, the secretary general of the PSE-EE (the Spanish Socialist Party’s wing in the BAC), had said that it would be a “terrible mistake” to change the Criminal Code in order to oppose Ibarretxe’s plan, Caldera’s declarations yesterday indicated quite the opposite. “We will always be prepared to enter into a debate of this kind and to give a response of this nature, but the right moment has to be found,” he pointed out. “This is because calm, prudence and an analysis beforehand are needed to implement such a serious change.”
Friday, October 24, 2003
Anyone for pelota?
Julio Medem's new film tells both sides of the bloody history of Spain's Basque country. So why is he being compared to Hitler's film-maker, asks Giles Tremlett
Thursday October 23 200
When Spanish film director Julio Medem read through his penultimate screenplay, Aitz, he was so shocked by his own writing that he threw it into the wastepaper basket. News that the director of such quirky classics of contemporary Spanish cinema as Cows and Lovers of the Arctic Circle had binned one of his scripts may alarm his devotees. But Medem insists that he jettisoned Aitz not because it was pure bilge, but because it was pure bile.
"I had got to the point where I had even made hatred a noble thing, where I thought it was beautiful to hate. It was obscene, so I threw it away," he says.
Medem's main problem was that he was Basque. Aitz had somehow got caught up in the violence that has tortured and sapped the energies of his countrymen for the past 30 years. Torn apart by the violence of Eta, battered by the opposing forces of Basque and Spanish nationalism, the Basques show no sign of finding a way out of their orgy of hatred and recrimination.
Medem had tried to escape, moving from his home city of San Sebastián to Madrid seven years ago. He had wanted to leave behind the suffocating political atmosphere imposed by those promoting the more exclusive ideals of Basque nationalism. He soon found, however, that there was no respite. For in Madrid the pendulum swung the other way. There he discovered that Basque nationalism of any kind, violent or non-violent, was fast becoming a new demon. In the capital, he says, some were beginning to forget the distinction between the Basques who used bullets to back their argument and those who used words.
And so Medem, who had already cast a sceptical eye on Basque obstinacy and the weight of tradition in his first film, Cows, made the surprising, many would say courageous, decision to turn his film- making skills to politics. The product of that move, a documentary, La Pelota Vasca: la Piel Contra la Piedra (Basque Ball: the Skin Against the Stone), is the most controversial thing to hit Spanish cinemas for years.
The sport of pelota vasca is fast, furious and athletic. Players with large curved baskets strapped to their hands hurl a small, hard ball against two walls set at right-angles. It is also, according to Medem, a form of dialogue between antagonists: the ball a point of union between two sides that are, formally, fighting one another. For the director of The Red Squirrel, Earth, and Sex and Lucia, that also made it a perfect metaphor for what is missing in the Basque country.
Designed to help fill that void and to "see hatred without hating it", Medem's Basque Ball has been condemned by the country's culture minister, Pilar del Castillo, boycotted by some intellectuals and criticised as ingenuous by the others. That is quite something for a film whose apparently modest ambition was to allow some 100 people of all political creeds to talk about 30 years of bloodshed and the growing confrontation between the conservative centralist government of prime minister José María Aznar and the non-violent Basque nationalists who run the Basque regional government.
In fact, the film was pilloried even before it opened, with two anti-Eta campaigners who had agreed to take part insisting they be removed (Medem refused) and Del Castillo declaring that Medem had placed Eta and the Spanish government on equal footing. Medem was compared to Hitler's film-maker, Leni Riefenstahl, and one politician called on him to return money state television had paid to show one of his earlier films.
Medem admits that the days before the film's showing at the San Sebastián film festival last month were pure anxiety. "I had not expected to get such a lynching. They were even saying that this film would lead people to terrorism," he says. In the end, his fellow Basques gave Medem a standing ovation, while he and Daniel Múgica, son of a local politician murdered by Eta, fell into an emotional embrace. "It was the biggest and most moving ovation of my life," he says. The film has since played well across the rest of Spain, finding a place in the top 10.
So what does a documentary made by such an idiosyncratic film-maker look like? Some of Medem's favourite visual tricks are here. His interviewees are placed in landscapes, rural and industrial, that sum up the mythical Basque country already seen in Cows - a place of rugged, sometimes brutal, beauty. Snatches of the cowardly axeman hero of Cows, of Basque stone-lifters and the rural sportsmen who are local heroes, are juxtaposed with news footage of violence and death. A naive and romantic Orson Welles appears, describing the Basque people in black and white film (and black and white terms) as neither Spanish nor French. The camera moves through the brooding Basque mountains, a vast depository of myths and of the national identity that many of those filmed seek to create or defend.
Medem, alone, edited more than 100 hours of film down to 115 minutes. His skill with the edit machine helps maintain the dramatic rhythm - as do the tragic first-hand accounts of suffering from those who have experienced the terror. It also leaves a clear, subjective and, for many, controversial message: that only a referendum among Basques could solve the region's problems. Most Spaniards would disagree.
Though Eta refused to be filmed - as did Aznar's People's party - it is difficult to explain the degree to which Medem has crossed the frontier of Spanish political acceptability. The film shows Arnaldo Otegi, leader of the now banned Batasuna party that operated as a front for Eta. For many Spaniards, Otegi is a demon incarnate, a purveyor of violence and cruelty - inexplicably supported by some 10% of Basques. Here, too, is the wife of an Eta man singing the praises of a good father and husband as she visits him in jail.
There is a pain-faced young woman relating a story of torture, beatings, naked humiliation and threats of rape at the hands of the Spanish police. Medem clearly believes her tale; given the desolate way she tells it, it is very hard not to. Viewers have to decide who is lying: the woman or a confident court doctor who denies that torture happens during the five days in which terror suspects can be held by Spanish police. Who is right? It is a question most Spanish newspapers do not air and local cinema critics left out of their reviews.
The intervention of the Eta man's wife has provoked particular rage among the film's critics. The fact that Medem chose to mix her story with that of the wife of an Eta victim has been criticised as giving equal treatment to killers and victims. But this assumes that viewers cannot think for themselves. The Eta wife's protestations that her husband is "the apple of his mother's eye" - and that, therefore, there must be some reason for his violence - serves only to make her, and her husband's cause, sound even more redundant. "This woman cannot bear the idea that her husband is a killer. She is trying to justify the unjustifiable," says Medem.
In a place where hate is such an easy emotion, the wife of the Eta victim, whose main worry is that her son "should not grow up to think he has the right to kill his father's murderers" seems, by contrast, almost angelic.
So, too, does Eduardo Madina, a young, atypical Basque socialist whose reaction to having a leg blown off by an Eta bomb is to remain faithful, despite the provocation, to the beliefs he held before that moment. Invited by his attackers to hate, Madina turned them down. He also did not like Medem's final cut, finding it too pro-Basque nationalist.
Basque Ball has, Medem says, been a form of preparation for his next film, Aitor. "I told myself that first I would do something about politics and then I would feel free to make fiction. I like this story a lot. I have a huge desire to get back to fiction, which is my real place," he says.
The hero of Aitor is, he says, the scion of a great line of pelota players who is forced, during 30 years of Basque violence, to confront a series of tests inviting him to hate. Like Madina, Aitor will refuse the invitation. Helped by the voices of his own secret opera, he will turn instead to love.
For those used to wading through the misery, fear, terror and hatreds of Basque politics, it is a refreshing, if sadly unrealistic, idea. Medem gives his documentary a poetic ending in the mouth of the Basque language's best-known writer, Bernardo Atxaga. The Basque country should be like a city, says Atxaga, embracing all, ending violence and thereby producing a form of communal levitation.
It would be a perfect ending, if only poetry really could stop violence.
· Basque Ball: the Skin Against the Stone is at the London film festival on Sunday and Monday.
Noticed how he starts out by calling Medem a Spaniard? Tremlett has nothing but contempt for the Basque people and their identity.
Auction to be held to build a new “Ikastola” in Irunberri
Well-known writers, musicians, sportspeople and artists have donated many articles to be sold by telephone and raise funds
Edurne Elizondo – IRUÑEA (Pamplona)
There is no let-up in the wave of solidarity with the Arangoiti Ikastola [Basque-medium school] of Irunberri (Lumbier, Navarre). Celebrities from the fields of science, culture and sport expressed their solidarity yesterday with the organisers of Sunday’s “Nafarroa Oinez” that was washed out by the rain.
A campaign has been launched with the slogan “Euroak euri, eutsi ametsari” (A deluge of Euros, cherish the dream): sportspeople, musicians, writers and other celebrities have donated things connected with their careers to the Ikastola to be auctioned by telephone (on 902 013883). The highest bidder will be able to take the gift home.
More figures than the Arangoiti people expected showed up at the Iruñea Planetarium yesterday for the launch of the new initiative: the physicist Pedro Migel Etxenike, the sculptor Nestor Basterretxea, the stone-lifter Iñaki Perurena, the Osasuna football team players Krutxaga, Puñal and Sanzol, the Basque pelota players Fernando Goñi, Oskar Lasa and Patxi Ruiz, the writer Aingeru Epaltza, the musician Enrike Zelaia, the mountaineer Mari Abrego… “The list is just growing and growing,” said the people in charge of the Ikastola.
October 29 is the deadline for anyone who would like to donate something. On that day and the following day the auction will end and the Arangoiti Ikastola staff will begin to distribute the prizes. The Ikastola chairman, Jose Enrique Garces, announced that on the Friday, October 31, there would be “a children’s festival” in Irunberri.
“We know that we are using the time that belongs to the Ikastola of Lizarra so we want to finish this campaign as soon as possible,” explained Nora Uribeetxeberria, Arangoiti’s head teacher. The Ikastola staff wanted to thank the Lizarra students for the fund-raising they had begun.
Garces explained that the cost of the damage caused by Sunday’s bad weather had not yet been worked out, but added that they would be “announcing it as soon as the figures had been completed.” As an example he said that the damaged stage cost 50,000 euros.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
First They Came for the Jews
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
~Pastor Martin Niemöller~
Tribute paid in the Kultur Parkea to the detainees in the two operations
Remembering that three out of the eighteen detainees are still behind bars, the nine detainees returning from Madrid received a warm welcome in the event organised yesterday in the Martin Ugalde Kultur Parkea
Eider Goenaga – ANDOAIN (Gipuzkoa)
Eighteen people were arrested in the two police operations connected with Egunkaria ordered by Judge Juan Del Olmo and tribute was paid to all of them during the event organised in the Martin Ugalde Kultur Parkea yesterday. The main protagonists were the detainees freed the day before yesterday: Joxe Mari Sors, Joanmari Larrarte, Mikel Arizabalaga, Mikel Sorozabal, Mikel Azkune, Xabier Legarra, Angel Diez, Amando Hernandez and Enekoitz Etxeberria; they were joined on the stage by the people who had been detained and released in the previous operation. Three names were in everyone’s minds and there was a round of applause from the people who had gathered there for the relatives present on behalf of Iñaki Uria, Xabier Oleaga and Xabier Alegria, the three people missing in Andoain yesterday.
Hundreds of people congregated at the Martin Ugalde Kultur Parkea and had difficulty getting in. The event had to be held indoors because of the bad weather and the assembly hall was too small for everyone to squeeze inside. At 18.20 the journalist Maddalen Iriarte spoke and thanked everyone present. “All the doors are open today because there are no secrets in the Martin Ugalde Kultur Parkea,” she said, before inviting Joan Mari Torrealdai, the former chairman of the Egunkaria board of directors, to explain what the Kultur Parkea is.
Torrealdai said he recalled the photo taken 16 months ago when the Kultur Parkea was inaugurated, and stressed “what a sad photo it is when you look at it today.” “Most of us on the stage then had to pass through the cells of the Spanish Civil Guard and go before the judge when our only crime was to promote Basque companies. The photo depicts Angel Diez of Graficas Lizarra; Joxe Mari Sors of the Euskalgintza Elkarlanean Fundazioa; Iñaki Uria, the Egunkaria Managing Director; Joanmari Larrarte, the promoter of the Parkea, and myself speaking. Martin Ugalde’s son Unai also accompanied us on the stage representing his father and we all know how Martin Ugalde has been treated.”
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
ELN, an armed group of Colombia which mantains several tourists kidnapped by political reasons, has announced that he'll release one of them, the Basque Asier Huegun, as a sign of solidarity with basque people's fight. They will release Huegun if some conditions are met:
- Presence of a delegation of the basque government composed by Joseba Egibar (PNV), Sabin Intxaurraga (EA) and Joseba Alvarez (Batasuna).
- Presence of Basque journalists (ETB and Gara).
- Supervision of the release operation by the Catholic Church.
- An end to the bombings and continuous attacks they are suffering at Santa Marta mountains.
Four of the detainees have been released provisionally and the other five have had to post bail
Imanol Muria Uria – MADRID
They are all free. The nine people arrested for their connections with the Martin Ugalde Kultur Parkea and Egunkaria were released yesterday at the Spanish National High Court, four without having to stand bail and the other four on bail. Judge Juan Del Olmo decreed temporary release for Mikel Arrizabalaga, Angel Diez, Enekoitz Etxeberria and Amando Hernandez while still upholding the accusation; Mikel Azkune, Joanmari Larrarte and Xabier Legarra each had to post bail of 12,000 euros in order to be released, and Joxe Mari Sors and Mikel Sorozabal 30,000 euros each. In the end, the judge confirmed the petitions made by the Public Prosecutor. They were all released at midday and early in the afternoon at the Spanish National High Court itself.
The judge did not specify the exact crime that each of the accused had been charged with in the writ giving the reasons for granting provisional release to some and for releasing others on bail. In general terms they have been accused of taking part in a number of economic crimes “in the provisional charges”. The case continues sub judice.
When they came out of the National High Court they said that during the interrogations they had not been subjected to physical bad treatment, but they all said that the five days being held incommunicado in the hands of the Spanish Civil Guard had been very hard and this was evident on their tired faces. Among other things they had been obliged to have their eyes closed or to face the wall during the interrogations, otherwise when they moved from one place to another they were forced to keep their heads bowed and their eyes closed, some had had to stand facing the wall when they heard a knock at the door while they were inside the cell, and when they failed to comply with the Civil Guards’ orders or if they did not answer in the way the interrogators wanted, they were threatened. Mikel Sorozabal, for example, summed it up as “continual humiliation.”
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
SPANISH NATIONALISTS LASH OUT AT BASQUE CULTURE MOVEMENT, USES TERRORISM AS EXCUSE
This past Thursday, Spanish police raided the offices of the Martin Ugalde Culture Park. This is an office complex, which houses dozens of businesses connected to Basque Culture and is in the center of the push during the last fifteen years to re-integrate the Basque language into Basque society. These businesses are comprised of publishing houses, graphic designers, merchandising and distribution offices and other similar enterprises.
Spanish authorities claim it was done as part of the investigation into the Basque language newspaper, Egunkaria. If you recall, this newspaper was ordered shut down 8 months ago by the Spanish courts after several of it's directors, staff, and others were accused of being a part of the armed group ETA. To this day, three people associated with this case remain in prison with no charges yet filed against them and no concrete evidence being shown as to their guilt.
Just yesterday, the President of the Basque Autonomous Region, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, protested "they have spent eight months and the facts have not been clarified, nor either the serious denunciations of torture and bad treatment that were made. There has been no existence of justice or explanations, and in a democratic system, one is supposed innocent until proven guilty, but the democratic guarantees and the civil and political rights, have suffered".
As for the businesses that were shut down this past Thursday, the directors of these businesses knew they were under scrutiny from the Spanish authorities long before Egunkaria was closed. A year or so before, Spanish authorities tried and failed to close down Basque publishing house Elkarlanean. After the newspaper Egunkaria was shut down, Jose Mari Sors who is director of Elkarlanean, (http://www.elkarlanean.com) publicly stated that his company's offices, books and all accounts were available for the authorities to investigate, as he had nothing to hide. Sors made this offer in writing, to the Courts of the Basque Autonomous Community and Madrid. This was in vain. Today, Jose Mari Sors is sitting in a jail cell in Madrid, held incommunicado for 5 days.
Why would the Spanish government rather make a big show of arresting these businessmen and forcibly searching these premises, with 200 Civil Guard officers (!!), when they could have peacefully searched the offices 8 months ago with full cooperation?
Why was this operation carried out on the same day the President of the Autonomous Basque Region was awarding Martin Ugalde the "International Basque" award? Martin Ugalde, a famous historian, is the namesake of the office park under investigation and is also the Honorary President of the newspaper Egunkaria.
Also note that this operation was carried out a week after the director of Egunkaria, Martxelo Otamendi, met with Theo van Boven, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Otamendi, and others, were interviewed regarding torture done to them while in police custody.
All in all, the facts of this case do not add up. (Actually, there are few facts, but many accusations) There are too many questions about the timing and methods of the Spanish investigators. Our hope is that journalists will see the abuses occurring in this case and thoroughly investigate these proceedings. This is not likely to occur within Spain, as Aznar's government has too much control over the media, nor will it happen at the hands of a Basque journalist, who would be immediately suspect of terrorist sympathies by virtue of his ethnicity.
It needs to come from the outside. We implore journalists to take a look at the conflict in the Basque country. Look at it fairly and in a balanced manner. Get your news not just from official Spanish sources, but also from Basque human and civil rights organizations, Basque politicians and the Basque people who are involved in these proceedings!
If you have any questions or would like more information, please don't hesitate to contact:
International Basque Organization For Human Rights
PO Box 225
Corte Madera, CA 94976
www.euskojustice.org.... ... .
Here you have the note:
Judge Del Olmo has lawyer Etxeberria arrested and held incommunicado
The other eight held incommunicado began to appear before the judge at 13.30 and continued into the early hours
E. Goenaga/I. Murua Uria – MADRID
At 21.45 hours yesterday Judge Juan Del Olmo announced that Enekoitz Etxeberria, the legal representative of Egunkaria S.A. and lawyer of the detainee Amando Hernandez, had been arrested and held incommunicado and was being detained in the cells of the Spanish National High Court. The lawyer Jose Mari Elosua had been with Etxeberria at the entrance of the National High Court. He saw the judge come down from his office and go up to Etxeberria to speak to him. Later he saw the judge taking the Egunkaria S.A. lawyer away with him. Shortly afterwards the clerk of the court told Elosua that Etxeberria was being detained and held incommunicado.
Elosua felt that the most normal thing would have been for Etxeberria to testify together with the remaining detainees. However, he could legally be held this way for five days. The clerk of the court said yesterday that he [Etxeberria] would, however, be testifying today after the rest had done so. Nevertheless, in Elosua’s view this latest arrest means that the police operation is still going on.
Jose Mari Elosua felt that the arrest was “excessive and out of all proportion.” “For the last eight months Etxeberria himself has been dealing constantly with all the requests of the Spanish National High Court. He has been in Madrid today [Monday] within the judge’s reach, just as he has been over the past eight months. And he was planning to be here tomorrow [Tuesday].” Elosua added that if he was involved in some judicial matter, the natural thing would have been to have left the proceedings against him until today.
Martxelo Otamendi, BERRIA’s Chief Editor, had this to say: “Egunkaria has suddenly been left without a legal representative. This is just adding insult to injury. With the situation of the detainees being held incommunicado, the arrest of the lawyer just aggravates their defencelessness”.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
A massive response once again
In a superb response to Kontseilua’s call, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Donostia to denounce the latest attack on Basque cultural activity and to demand freedom for the detainees
Eider Goenaga – DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
For the second time in eight months thousands of Basque citizens heeded the call made by Kontseilua and expressed their anger in the streets of Donostia (San Sebastian) in a fitting response to the attack. They filled the streets to bursting yesterday by joining together under the banner of “Gora Euskal Herrri euskalduna. Bai euskarari!” (Long live the Basque-speaking Basque Country. Yes, to Euskara, the Basque language!) and pledging their allegiance to Basque cultural activity. They condemned the assault carried out on the Martin Ugalde Kultur Parkea just as they did so eight months ago to denounce the closing of Egunkaria . A request to support the Basque language and the organisations involved in Basque cultural activity was expressed by one and all.
Lined up behind the banner were four of the people detained in the previous operation: Joan Mari Torrealdai, Txema Auzmendi, Martxelo Otamendi and Fermin Lazkano. They were accompanied by the representatives of Kontseilua: Xabier Mendiguren, its secretary-general; Imanol Lazkano of the Bertsozale Elkartea (Extempore Basque verse-making enthusiasts’ association); Joxe Leon Otano of AEK (adult Basque teaching organisation); Ttitto Velvedere of the Euskal Konfederazioa (association working for the standardisation of Basque in the Northern Basque Country –under French jurisdiction); Gabi Basanez of the EHE (association demanding the Basque language in the Basque Country); Joxean Lizarribar and Ane Agirregomezkorta of the board of directors of EKT (the company that runs BERRIA), among others. The father of Mikel Sorozabal, the former managing director of Egunkaria, also held the banner on behalf of the relatives of the detainees.
The detainees were the main protagonists of the demonstration along with the call in favour of the Basque language. Behind the first banner, workers from the Martin Ugalde Kultur Parkea companies carried a second one demanding the release of the detainees: “Atxilotuak askatu. Euskalgintza aurrera!” (Free the detainees. Come on Basque cultural activity!). Behind them photos were carried of the detained colleagues along with those of Inaki Uria, Xabier Oleaga and Xabier Alegria, the people being held in prison in the wake of the February 20th operation.
Thousands protest against the assault on Basque cultural activity
Thousands of people in towns and cities responded to the call made by “Kontseilua” to call for the release of the detainees and demand that the Basque language be left in peace
Protests were held yesterday inside the Basque Country to condemn Thursday’s police operation and the attack on Basque cultural activity. For example, about one hundred teachers and students involved in the “Irale” study programme got together for a quarter of an hour in the Larratxo square of Donostia [San Sebastian] with the banner: “Euskalgintzaren aurkako erasorik ez” (No to the attack on Basque Cultural Activity). Between 14.00 and 15.00 hours workers from the Zabaltzen distribution company and the Euskalgintza Elkarlanean publishing house met together in front of the Zabaltzen premises in the Donostia suburb of Igaro. About fifty people lined up behind a banner that read “Atxilotuak askatu Euskal Herria aurrera” (Free the Detainees. Come on Basque Country!). They included Iñaki Sors, the brother of Jose Mari Sors, who is one of the detainees. Martxelo Otamendi [BERRIA’s Chief Editor] and Joxean Lizarribar, on behalf of the “Euskarazko Komunikazio Taldea” [the company that runs BERRIA], also took part.
One of the first protests in front of city and town halls called by “Kontseilua” was held in Baiona (Bayonne). Leading about 150 people Gexan Alfaro of the Elkarlanean publishing house denounced the operation as “state terrorism” and added that “the time has come for all Basque nationalists to unite and dispense with party politics”. Maixan Merkapide, chairman of the “Euskal Konfederazioa” called on the politicians to do something “to stop this.”
In Donostia over 1,000 people got together outside the city hall; Xabier Mendiguren, Kontseilua’s General Secretary, and Joan Mari Torrealdai, the Editor of the journal “Jakin”, were there along with the wives of the detainees Joxe Mari Sors, Mikel Arrizabalaga and Mikel Sorozabal. Representatives of political parties were also there: Luis Mari Bandres of the EAJ (Basque Nationalist Party), Josetxo Ibazeta of Batasuna, Iñaki Irazabalbeitia of Aralar. The ELA and LAB Basque trade unions were also represented, and Joxe Leon Otaño was there on behalf of the AEK (adult Basque teaching organisation).
About 2,000 people staged a protest in Bilbo, and approximately 1,000 in Gasteiz (Vitoria).
Saturday, October 18, 2003
Here you have the note:
Eight citizens arrested in a security operation against different businesses related to Basque culture
The Martin Ugalde Cultural Park
A total of eight Basque citizens have been arrested in a security operation ordered by Judge Juan del Olmo, of the Spanish Audiencia Nacional, and carried out by agents of the Civil Guard.
The operation took place in the early hours of the October 16th 2003 and the arrests were made in the Basque provinces of Gipuzkoa and Nafarroa.
7 of those arrested took place in the former province. To be more exact, these took place in Donostia, Hernani, Errenteria-Orereta and Tolosa, and another in the Navarren area of Lizarra.
In the framework of this operation the offices of the management group of the Martin Ugalde Cultural Park, in Andoain were searched. Over twenty businesses related to Euskara (the Basque language) and Basque culture normally work from this centre.
This operation has been presented by Spanish legal sources as a continuation of the operation begun eight months ago, which resulted in the closure of "Egunkaria"- the only daily newspaper in the Basque language. After that operation Basque society responded with a number of huge demonstrations, but there were also serious claims of torture made by many of the ten detainees. One of those was that made by Martxelo Otamendi, the director of the newspaper.
One of the offices raided by the Guardia Civil is that of the newspaper "Berria", which was founded to offer a newspaper in the Basque language after the forced closure of "Egunkaria".
In fact, one of those arrested, Joan Mari Larrarte, acted as spokesperson for the workers of "Egunkaria" after its closure.
The main searches related to the operation have been carried out in the offices of the management group of the Martin Ugalde Cultural Park, run under the name of Buruntzape S.L, and the graphics companies Lizarra and Zabaltzen, the latter company being a leader in the distribution of books and c.ds in the Basque language.
Various people involved in these businesses have been arrested: Jose Mari Sors, Mikel Arrizabalaga, Xabier Legarra, Mikel Sorozabal, Joan Mari Larrarte, Mikel Azkune, Armando Hernandez and Angel Ramon Diez.
All of them are being held incommunicado, without the right to contact their families, or be assisted by a lawyer of confidence (one of their choosing), which has led to the lawyer Eneko Etxeberria to voice his concern about their situation and to demand that the detainees be brought before the courts immediately.
After the appearance of Etxeberria and after a meeting of those businesses that work from the Martin Ugalde cultural park, the workers from the industrial estate- which takes its name from a Basque writer who was forced to live in exile during the Franco dictatorship- held a demonstration against another attack against Basque culture..... ... .
Friday, October 17, 2003
Judge Del Olmo and Spanish Civil Guard launch another attack on Basque cultural activity
Spanish Civil Guards have arrested eight people linked to the Martin Ugalde Kultur Parkea and are holding them incommunicado
Imanol Murua Uria – DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
The Spanish National High Court and the Spanish Civil Guard have carried out a fresh assault on Basque cultural activity. In the early hours of yesterday morning the Civil Guard, on the orders of Judge Del Olmo, arrested eight people who are linked to the Martin Ugalde Kultur Parkea and Euskaldunon Egunkaria. The Civil Guards not only searched the homes of the eight detainees, but also the premises of the distributors Zabaltzen and the printing company Gráficas Lizarra in the Martin Ugalde Kultur Parkea. According to the search warrants issued by Judge Del Olmo, yesterday’s operation was a continuation of the one which closed down Euskaldunon Egunkaria; in this instance against the company Buruntzape SL that manages the Martin Ugalde Parkea and a number of other companies that were connected with Egunkaria.
The police operation began at 01.15 hours in the morning with the participation of about two hundred civil guards. Mikel Arrizabalaga, Xabier Legarra and Mikel Sorozabal were detained in Donostia (San Sebastian), Joxe Mari Sors and Mikel Azkune in Errenteria, Joanmari Larrarte in Hernani, Amando Hernandez in Tolosa and Angel Ramon Diez in Aiegi (Navarre). All of them were arrested in their homes.
The eight detainees were believed to have been taken to Madrid, to the Spanish Civil Guard Headquarters, yesterday morning. They are being held incommunicado and will not be making their declarations before the judge until Monday, according to Spanish National High Court sources. The ten people arrested in the operation to close down Egunkaria on February 20 also spent five days in the hands of the Civil Guard before appearing before Judge Del Olmo, and they filed complaints of bad treatment and torture. Because of this, the lawyers are planning to apply for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the detainees to request that they be taken before the Judge at once.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
World Handball Championships get underway on Friday
Filed at: Thursday , October 16 2003 18:58PM
One Wall events get underway on Friday in the first leg of the World Handball Championships.
All events, from juvenile to masters take place in O’Loughlin Gaels in Kilkenny and spectators will be in for quite a treat as 200 matches will be played over a three day period from Friday to Sunday.
A truly international contest will be on display as competitors from Australia, Basque Country, Canada, England, Wales and the US will be taking on the natives in Ireland to battle for top One Wall honours.
The events at the weekend will be the best opportunity to see as many stars and international players at the one venue as competitors will be scattered throughout the countryside for their fourwall events.
Filed by Johnny Proby
Now take a good look at this picture an its caption:
Dr. Josef Ackermann, left, chairman of Deutsche Bank and Rabbi Authur Schneier, right, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, present Jose Maria Aznar Lopez, center, president of Spain, with the 'Appeal Of Conscience World Statesman Award' in New York, Tuesday October 14, 2003.
Yup, you read it right, a Rabbi has presented the guy that ordered the attacks against the most basic rights of the Basques with an Statesman award. May I remind you that this guy Aznar is the one that endorsed a book by a fellow member of his political party that denies the Holocoust?
How can a Rabbi allow this to happen? Did he forget about the Holocoust? Have the victims of the Holocoust become bargain chips for the invasion of Palestine by Israel?
Spain is about the only European country (besides England, which is more like the USA's biggest air carrier since the end of WWII) that supports the actions of Israel in Palestine, so now a Rabbi awards a Nazi apologist because it fits Israel's expantionist plans. That fucking Rabbi piece of shit is gonna have some explaining to do when he faces his deity.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
His Excellency José Mará Aznar, President of the Government of Spain, Recipient of the Appeal of Conscience World Statesman Award, receives the award from Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President, Appeal of Conscience Foundation, Rabbi, Park East Synagogue. Philip M. Condit, Chairman & CEO, The Boeing Company, Chairman, 2003 Appeal of Conscience Foundation Annual Awards Dinner looks on.
This is the world we live in.
Monday, October 13, 2003
White House, USA
GEORGE W. BUSH ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS PRESIDENT:
I attacked and took over two countries.
I spent the US surplus and bankrupted the US Treasury.
I shattered the record for the biggest annual deficit in history (not easy!).
I set an economic record for the most personal bankruptcies filed in any 12 month period.
I set all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the stock market.
I am the first president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.
I am the first president in US history to enter office with a criminal record.
In my first year in office I set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any president in US history (tough to beat my dad's, but I did).
After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, I presided over the worst security failure in US history.
I set the record for most campaign fund raising trips by a president in US history.
In my first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their jobs.
I cut unemployment benefits for more out-of-work Americans than any other president in US history.
I set the all-time record for most real estate foreclosures in a 12-month period.
I appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in US history.
I set the record for the fewest press conferences of any president, since the advent of TV.
I signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any other US president in history.
I presided over the biggest energy crises in US history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed.
I cut health care benefits for war veterans.
I set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to protest me (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.
I dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history.
I've made my presidency the most secretive and unaccountable of any in US history.
Members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in US history.
(The poorest multimillionaire, Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her).
I am the first president in US history to have all 50 states of the Union simultaneously struggle against bankruptcy.
I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud in any market in any country in the history of the world.
I am the first president in US history to order a US attack and military occupation of a sovereign nation, and I did so against the will of the United Nations and the vast majority of the international community.
I have created the largest government department bureaucracy in the history of the United States.
I set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any other president in US history (Ronnie was tough to beat, but I did it!!).
I am the first president in US history to compel the United Nations remove the US from the Human Rights Commission.
I am the first president in US history to have the United Nations remove the US from the Elections Monitoring Board.
I removed more checks and balances, and have the less congressional oversight, than any presidential administration in US history.
I rendered the entire United Nations irrelevant.
I withdrew from the World Court of Law.
I refused to allow inspectors access to US prisoners of war and by default no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions.
I am the first president in US history to refuse United Nations election inspectors access during the 2002 US elections.
I am the all-time US (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations.
The biggest lifetime contributor to my campaign, who is also one of my best friends, presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation).
I spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in US history.
I am the first president to! run and hide when the US came under attack (and then lied, saying the enemy had the code to Air Force 1).
I am the first US president to establish a secret shadow government.
I took the world's sympathy for the US after 9/11, and in less than a year made the US the most resented country in the world (possibly the biggest diplomatic failure in US and world history).
I am the first US president in history to have a majority of the people of Europe (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and stability.
I changed US policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.
I set the all-time record for the number of administration appointees who violated US law by not selling their huge investments in corporations bidding for govt. contracts.
I have removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any other president in US history.
I have created the most divided country in decades, possibly the most divided that the US has been since the Civil War.
I entered office with the strongest economy in US history and in less than two years turned every single economic category heading straight down.
RECORDS AND REFERENCES:
I have at least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving record has been erased and is not available).
I was AWOL from the National Guard and deserted the military during time of war.
I refuse to take a drug test or even answer any questions about drug use.
All records of my tenure as governor of Texas have been spirited away to my fathers library, sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
All minutes of meetings of any public corporation for which I served on the board are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
Any records or minutes from meetings I (or my VP) attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.
(Note: this information should be useful to voters in the 2004 election. Circulate to as many citizens you think would be helped by being reminded about my record.)
Batera forum proposes constructive action as well as disobedience
A process of debate is underway between now and December 13, which is the deadline France has been given
Eneko Bidegain – BAIONA (Bayonne)
“So far 500 people have filled in the commitment paper,” shouted Jean-Noel Etxeberri as the head of the “Batera” march was approaching the finish. Thousands of people converged on Baiona yesterday afternoon in support of a Basque département, official recognition of the Basque language, a chamber of agriculture and its own university. The paper asks for a commitment to be taken to occupy the buildings of official institutions. Ten minutes later they totalled 540. It will be one of the mainstays of the Batera forum’s strategy. The debate will continue until December 13 and yesterday other lines of action were presented.
One of them is based on disobedience. Actions like the occupation of public buildings, the disruption of the meetings of the Development Council, the Council of Elected Representatives and the General Council, the “dismantling” of the Millau McDonalds, hunger strikes, etc. are also mentioned in the papers distributed among the demonstrators. Another possibility is the indefinite occupation of some symbolic building.
The second most important mainstay will be constructive action. A proposal has been put forward that a “parallel” General Council be created. This would consist of a language council, an agricultural council and an office for economic development and university matters. Everyone who wishes can pay a “tax” by making a donation, or organise festivals with the participation of the Udalbiltza and the Government of the BAC [Basque Autonomous Community of Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa]. This General Council would “pursue initiatives to push through its proposals” and would “reach agreements with the Udalbiltza, the universities of the BAC, Europe, associations of cities, companies, etc.”
Another focal point of the work will be to demand that a referendum be organised. A campaign would be launched to demand this, and if it did not succeed, a process would be started so that the town councils themselves could organise a referendum.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
Van Boven: “Denying the problem hinders the solution”
He pointed out that he would be looking into whether torture is “the tip of an iceberg or whether its practice is limited”
Editorial Staff – DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
Theo Van Boven, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the question of torture, gave a press conference in Madrid yesterday. This week the UN representative has been visiting Spain and the Basque Country to investigate the torture claims that have been filed, and has held meetings with officials, civil society organisations and a number of people who have filed complaints of torture.
In his appearance before the press Van Boven said that he had received many testimonies and views, but added that depending on the sources they were “very contradictory”. He said he had been with “a number of people who had been tortured” and with other officials who had told him that “in Spain there is no torture.” In response to this he said, “denying the problem hinders the solution.” At the same time the UN representative pointed out that most sources had told him that “torture is not systematically applied.”
In Madrid he met with the Spanish Foreign and Interior Ministers, the Heads of the Spanish Police and Civil Guard, the Secretaries of State Security and Justice, the Attorney-General, the Head Public Prosecutor of the Spanish National High Court, the Spanish Ombudsman and Prison Institutions, among others.
In the Basque Country he was with Etxerat, the Torturaren Aurkako Taldea (anti-torture group), Elkarri, and with Javier Balza and Joseba Azkarraga, the heads of the Interior and Justice Departments, respectively, of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community [of Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa]. In addition, Van Boven heard the first-hand testimonies of Unai Romano and Juan Carlos Subijana, who were arrested in Gasteiz (Vitoria) in September 2001, and of Martxelo Otamendi, Joan Mari Torrealdai and Txema Auzmendi, detained in the Egunkaria case.
The declarations that were heard will make up the first item in the report due to be published between March and April of next year.
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
“Dire situation” of minors punished for street disturbances denounced
The “Gurasoak” and “Etxerat” associations have begun collecting signatures in an attempt to improve the situation endured by inmates at Los Rosales remand home in the Carabanchel district of Madrid
Aitziber Laskibar – BILBO
Since its implementation two years ago the Juvenile Law refers the crimes of those under 18 to a special court. Moreover, those people linked to street disturbances or “crimes of terrorism” go through the Juvenile Court that answers to the Spanish National High Court. The young people also have to serve their sentences in special centres; the regulations state that the aim is to attach greater importance to education. The reality, however, is quite different, according to the denunciation made by the “Gurasoak” and “Etxerat” organisations (*). The four Basque citizens at the special centre known as Los Rosales are in a “dire situation”. For this reason the two associations have launched an awareness campaign with the collecting of signatures.
As its starting point the petition takes a letter sent to his friends by Z.L. of Durango (Bizkaia), who is serving a five-year sentence at Los Rosales. He described their way of life at the juvenile centre and asked for something to be done about his rights. The awareness campaign was launched in Durango itself. Yesterday, a round table discussion was held there on the Juvenile Law and the situation at Los Rosales.
Although the initiative was started in Durango the two associations plan to extend the collecting of signatures throughout the Basque Country. The petition will request that at least the same rights enjoyed by ordinary prison inmates should be extended to the children. They plan to send the petition both to the Spanish National High Court and to Los Rosales. Furthermore, the “Gurasoak” and “Etxerat” associations will be meeting with social bodies to inform about the circumstances of the young people and to collect signatures. Later on they plan to meet with the Basque institutions.
(*) Associations of Basque political prisoners’ relatives to defend the rights of their family members in prison. “Gurasoak” is the association specifically geared to parents whose under-age children have been charged with involvement in street disturbances..... ... .
Saturday, October 04, 2003
.... ... .
Friday, October 03, 2003
The so called soft dictatorship in Mexico could get quite hard at times, like in 1968 and again in 1971, the justice system in Mexico is so corrupted that the victim suffers more than the criminal, the degree of impunity is so high that is unbearable for a lot of people to live on those conditions, and it is now evident that not even a government of a party on the opposition is willing to change the status quo, sad indeed.
Now transfer that to what is going on in the Basque Country, in a year period of time I have reported to you about the banning of a political party, the closing of a news paper, the incarceration of artists, journalists, peace activists, the banning of artistic expressions by musicians and movie makers, the attack against the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly and most important of all against the right to self determination, the criminalizing of a language, the accusations against elementary schools as "hot beds" of terrorism just because they teach kids on our own language. Imagine having to live on those conditions only because you want to be what you are.
But no, people has to wait for tragedies like the one I presented to you yesterday, or the Holocoust, or the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, or the use of unconventional weapons on the Kurds to then do something about it, which is pretty much like applying a band aid to a severed limb when the ax that inflicted the wound could have been taken away.
I leave you with a quote by Martin Luther King:
"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people."
Thursday, October 02, 2003
AP: Snipers Triggered '68 Mexico Massacre
Thu Oct 2, 3:16 AM ET
By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press Writer
MEXICO CITY - Once-secret government files show a massacre of student protesters 35 years ago was touched off when snipers under the command of the Mexican government fired into the crowd. At least 360 government gunmen were present, the documents indicate.
Government officials at the time said armed dissidents provoked the deadly confrontation on Oct. 2, 1968 — 10 days before the start of the Olympics hosted by Mexico — by firing on police during a protest against Mexico's lack of democracy. Estimates on the number of people killed range from 38 to several hundred.
As Mexicans prepared to hold an annual march to mark the anniversary of the shooting at Tlatelolco plaza, the files obtained by The Associated Press added to evidence backing up claims by student protesters that government operatives initiated the massacre.
The Supreme Court ordered the federal Attorney General's office to investigate how big a role the government played in the massacre, but the investigation by a special prosecutor has faltered because those in charge at the time of the attack refuse to testify.
Researchers say newly uncovered files with police names and the number of snipers may give new momentum to the case.
Investigators say there is evidence top officials, including then-Interior Secretary Luis Echeverria, knew much more than they originally claimed. In 1970, Echeverria became Mexico's president.
The documents say that some snipers moving from window to window above the plaza scurried through an apartment that belonged to Echeverria's sister-in-law.
Echeverria, who was in charge of Mexico's domestic security, has denied any direct involvement in the attack, and he and his assistants refused to comment to the AP. Called in for questioning last year by Special Prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo, Echeverria refused to talk, citing his constitutional right to remain silent.
"You think Echeverria didn't know that they were firing from the apartment of his sister-in-law? I don't think so," Maria de Los Angeles Magdaleno, an investigator for the special prosecutor researching the case, said in an interview with the AP.
Magdaleno leads a team of five government researchers combing through millions of uncatalogued documents. Among the team's recent discoveries is a list of the intelligence monitors for dozens of military units and police squads who showed up at the plaza, another indication the events were no secret to high-ranking officials.
Researchers have uncovered mounting evidence that among those at the plaza was Manuel Diaz Escobar, who led a secret battalion of police known as the Falcons. The Falcons went on to lead another bloody attack on student protesters in 1971.
Magdaleno says there were diverse groups of police at the plaza, including federal police, city police and secret service agents.
Investigators do not have evidence the government had previously ordered police to carry out the killings, but documents suggest things got out of control.
"The decision was not to go out killing students and certainly not with the eyes of the world on Mexico" before the Olympics, Magdaleno said. "There were so many groups in the operation that the authorities couldn't control them."
Until recently, prosecutors had brushed aside demands to prosecute those responsible for the massacre, claiming the statute of limitations had expired years ago.
But on the anniversary of the massacre two years ago, President Vicente Fox promised to open secret government archives about the event.
Carrillo, the special prosecutor appointed by Fox to investigate crimes by past governments, said there is evidence 38 people were killed at Tlatelolco Plaza. Human rights groups have contended several hundred died, but government officials hid the bodies so an exact count was impossible. Government officials also seized photos of the carnage and ordered newspapers not to print photos of corpses.
International observers worry the investigation will stall, especially as government officials remain silent.
"If you don't put a limit on time, the process will go on for 10 years," said Sofia Macher, a member of Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated deaths and disappearances in Peru during a brutal insurgency by Shining Path guerrillas.
Human Rights Watch has urged Fox to make the investigation a higher priority and to provide investigators with more resources. The group also wants Congress to pass new legislation that would pressure witnesses to testify, saying prosecutors need the power to negotiate plea bargains.
"As this thing drags out, I think the frustration has grown considerably," said Daniel Wilkinson, an attorney for Human Rights Watch. "It will take showing concrete results for that to abate."
At an appearance Tuesday by Fox, a group of students told the president they hadn't forgotten about the case.
"I haven't forgotten about it either," local newspapers quoted him as responding.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Spain's Aznar rules out Basque plan for new status
Tue Sep 30, 1:35 PM ET
Add World - AFP to My Yahoo!
MADRID (AFP) - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said that a plan by the autonomous Basque government to change the region's political status to one of "free association" with the rest of the country had "zero" chances of success.
The president of the Basque government, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, told the regional parliament in Vitoria on Friday that the plan to bolster Basque autonomy would be presented to parliament next year with a view to opening talks with Madrid on the new status.
But Aznar made clear it was a non-starter.
"The chances that this plan will amount to something are literally zero," Aznar told reporters during a joint news conference with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who on Monday began a state visit to Spain.
Aznar said the proposal would be considered "laughable were there not bombs and guns, still smouldering, and victims involved," in a reference to attacks by the armed Basque separatist group ETA.
"It's a plan that is born out of terror and says that terror is right, which is extraordinarily serious," Aznar added.
Aznar described the plan as an "act of deep disloyalty combined with an act of unacceptable blackmail".
Ibarretxe has stressed that the Basque government intends to put the plan to a referendum regardless of the outcome of its talks with the central government.
"Spanish democracy will in no way accept the least blackmail," Aznar said.
Presenting the plan Friday, Ibarretxe told the regional parliament in Vitoria that the new statute would be based on the "respect for the right of the Basque people to decide their own future".
Ibarretxe, of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV -- in power in Vitoria since 1980), first drafted the plan a year ago.
He also revealed Friday that the Basque government was set to approve the project on October 25 and that it would be put to a vote in the regional parliament in September 2004.
If the plan were to succeed, Euskadi, the Basque name for the region in the country's north, would be freely associated with the remainder of Spain by the will of its inhabitants rather than by the current constitutional arrangement that granted the region its autonomy, under the so-called 1979 Statute of Guernica.
Ibarretxe has said that as the region's lehendakari or president, he would seek to ensure that the referendum would go ahead with an "absence of violence".