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Friday, April 30, 2004
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The newsletter will be published in Euskara, English, Spanish and soon, French. It is one more effort by the Basque community in the world to reach out to the international community, I recommed you go to the page and read the two essays by Mark Kurlansky, author of the book "The Basque History of the World".
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The construction of the Itoiz reservoir will devastate the enviroment of the area and swamp a series of towns deep in the heart of a mainly Basque area in Nafarroa (Navarre), those towns have been there for hundreds of years and many of then count with building and structures that are considered humankind's heritage, yet the Spanish government insists on building a damn that will bring little or no improvement to the area.
And then the Strasbourg's Court judges decide that no human rights are being violated admitting that they do not know what drives the Spanish government decisions, ahem, that is why the case went to court in the first place you morons.
Here you have the note at Berria English:
Itoiz Committee regards judgement as “scandalous”, and lodges appeal
The lawyer Beaumont has denounced the use of “false or erroneous arguments” by Strasbourg
Edurne Elizondo – IRUÑEA (Pamplona)
The Itoiz Coordinating Committee regards the verdict on the reservoir handed down on Tuesday by the European Court of Human Rights as “scandalous” and has announced its intention to lodge an appeal against it with the Grand Chamber of the Strasbourg Court.
In a press conference held yesterday Jose Luis Beaumont, the Coordinating Committee’s lawyer, stressed: “If the Spanish Government had good advisers, it would know that there are many possibilities of the latest verdict being quashed, because it has been based on false or at least erroneous arguments.”
“The judges of the Fourth Division of the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg have reached their verdict without taking the reality into consideration. These judges have in fact stressed that they do not know what the politicians responsible for Itoiz have said again and again, and what everyone knows,” explained Beaumont.
The Strasbourg judges say they do not know the aim of the new National Parks Law passed by the Navarrese Parliament in 1996. “Those responsible for the reservoir admitted dozens of times, and with pride, too, that the change was made to the law so as not to comply with the verdict handed down by the Spanish National Criminal Court in 1995; that verdict and also the one handed down by the Spanish Supreme Court in 1997 regarded the Itoiz reservoir project as illegal.” Beaumont added that the Spanish National Criminal Court itself had admitted that the aim of the new law was to seek a way of not complying with the verdict handed down against the project, and that is what it explained, when it presented the case on that law to the Spanish Constitutional Court.
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Thursday, April 29, 2004
Zapatero, the "socialist", the man that will allegedly fix the fascist legacy of his predecessor is now the Prime Minister in functions, and what happens?
The Spanish Court slaps Inaki Uria with a 600,000 euros bail (that is 600,000 dollars give or take), he is in jail as part of the Egunkaria case, Aznar's junta accused the Basque newspaper Egunkaria of receiving funds from ETA, a year later they are still to show any evidence to support this accusation, most of the people that was arrested back then are now free because the "legal" system in Spain could not prove the link between the newspaper and the armed group, yet in order for Inaki Uria (a journalist and a political prisoner) to walk free, he has to pay an indecent amount of money.
This proves my statement that in Spain the Basques are guilty until proven innocent, and that the Spanish "legal" system will take any chance to add insult to injury. Over a year ago they deprived Inaki Uria of his liberty under shaky accusations, now that they are acknowledging they do not have a solid case against him they demand an amount of money that would bankrupt any average Joe.
Zapatero, that is strike one, don't worry, as for myself, I wouldn't been surprised if you are in the process of reactivating the GAL as I write these lines.
From Berria English:
Uria required to post bail of 600,000 euros to go free
The 1st Court of the Spanish National Criminal Court's Penal Division has not only set an extremely high figure, it has also denied the detainee the chance to provide security and has ordered him to report to the police station every day
Imanol Murua-Uria DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
The Spanish National Criminal Court has imposed an unprecedented bail figure on Inaki Uria, the former managing director of Egunkaria: the 1st Court of the Penal Division has ruled that he will have to post bail amounting to 600,000 euros to secure his release on-trial, and has denied him the opportunity of paying by providing security. The court's panel of judges has taken this decision in response to an appeal presented by Uria's defense team, and has thus overruled the order issued by Juan Del Olmo, the instructing judge, that their client should be remanded in custody. The panel of judges has ruled that Uria will also have to report to the police station every day in addition to posting bail.
In the brief writ issued by Siro Garcia, the head of the panel of judges, Antonio Diaz-Delgado, the judge responsible for delivering the leading opinion, and the Judge Manuela Fernandez, Uria has been granted release on bail, because the danger of his hampering the investigations is believed to have disappeared in view of the time that has elapsed. Nevertheless, the strict precautionary measures have been imposed, because the danger of his absconding is not thought to have disappeared. Defense Counsel Jose Maria Elosua regards the setting of such high bail as "absurd" and is planning to file an appeal. Elosua went to the Spanish National Criminal Court yesterday to talk to the judge responsible for delivering the leading opinion in the panel of judges about reducing the bail or allowing for it to be paid through providing security, but he didn't even agree to see him. The lawyer Enekoitz Etxeberria will be meeting with Inaki Uria at the Aranjuez prison this morning to inform him of the decision and to discuss the steps that need to be taken. If the appeal is presented, it will not be necessary to await the Court's decision. If this is decided and there is a possibility of finding the money, the bail could be posted.
The lawyer Elosua believes that the panel of judges has not borne in mind "who Inaki Uria is nor what means he has of being able to post the bail". By demanding bail of 600,000 euros "it has set an amount that cannot be paid, unless it is with the support of the public". The lawyer has pointed out that bearing in mind the decisions taken until now in the Egunkaria case, another measure is being used in Uria's case: "They are treating Inaki differently, without justification and, among other things, without stating the reasons in the writ."
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Wednesday, April 28, 2004
You can visit the NABO site and look for the Newsletter/Hizketa link.
Once there all you have to do is go to Page 2, by the way, do you remember when I told you about the special relationship between the Basques and the Irish? Well, the relationship just got a little bit more "cozy" and you can read about it on the same page.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2004
It is high time the international community acknowledges that Franco and Hitler were about to unleash a Holocaust on the Basque people. If they failed was because it is hard to put a Basque and his family in a train and ship them out without the fella breaking a couple of German necks in the process.
This is a note about the demand of the Basque people for Madrid to finally acknowledge Franco's role on the massacre, it appeared today at Berria English:
Mayor wants recognition that Franco ordered the bombing
The mayor of Gernika has made this request to the Spanish Government on the 67th anniversary of the massacre of the town
Editorial Staff – BILBO
Yesterday was the 67th anniversary of the bombing of Gernika by the German Condor Legion on the orders of the dictator Francisco Franco. Although many years have passed since those events and numerous calls have been made for Franco’s responsibility to be acknowledged, there has been no response as yet from the Spanish Government. That is the request made by Migel Angel Aranaz, the mayor of Gernika, to Jose Luis Rodriguez-Zapatero’s Government: to admit that Franco ordered the bombing of Gernika.
Aranaz pointed out that many people who experienced the massacre and descendants of those killed there are still alive “and their wounds have not yet been closed”. In the mayor’s view a formal acknowledgement by the Spanish Government would help them to come to terms with what they went through.
“Germany acknowledged seven years ago that it was the Condor Legion which had bombed Gernika and it had of course done so on Franco’s orders,” explained Aranaz in an interview broadcast on the Euskadi Irratia radio station. That being the case the mayor of Gernika said: “We want the Spanish Government to admit its responsibility, too.” He added: “67 years have gone by and it’s time that things were recognised.”
In a letter presented in the Spanish Senate (upper house) Iñaki Anasagasti, the EAJ-PNV Senator, called on the Government to accept responsibility for the bombing. In it he recalled that Congress (the lower house) took the decision to formally admit responsibility in 1999 and with the support of all the parties; so “the decisions taken should be fulfilled”.
Numerous events were also organised to mark the anniversary. Yesterday the official event was held in Gernika. A floral tribute was made to those who suffered the bombing and who are still alive. Among those present were Idoia Zenarruzabeitia, the Deputy Lehendakari or President of the Basque Autonomous Community Government, Jose Luis Bilbao, the Head of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, and the mayor of Gernika himself. The time of the bombing was marked by the sound of a siren and the Matraka play on the war was performed in the streets of this town in Bizkaia.
The XIV International Culture and Peace Symposium organised by the Gernika Gogoratuz association is currently being held. The Gernika Committee and the Arrano Cultural Association also organised a round-table discussion yesterday. Martxelo Otamendi, BERRIA’s Editor-in-Chief, and Alizia Stürtze, historian, were among those who took part.
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Monday, April 26, 2004
• In 1937, planes from Nazi Germany raided the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
Stark, just like that.
On one line the world remembers today what happened in Gernika 67 years ago.
To the world it may be easy to remember the events that took place that market day in Gernika on one stark line, not so to the Basques.
To us Gernika represents the heart of the Basque Country, just last week we mourned the death of our Gernikako Arbola, our Oak of Gernika, the tree that embodies the Basque freedoms and laws, the same tree that survived the attack by the Luftwaffe's Kondor Legion.
The attack was aimed at bringing fear into the hearts of the Basques who for months had been battling the combined forces of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco, Gernika was well behind the front line and had no means to defend itself, few weeks previous to that day the Germans had tried their bombers on the city of Durango killing dozens of people. This time Franco wanted to break the Basque will and allowed the Germans to go at it with everything, destroy Gernika and the Basques will surrender. At the end of the day up to 1,600 innocent civilians were dead, but the Basque resolve to face totalitarianism and the Oak of Gernika stood up, solid.
From that day on the people from cities around the world would experience such sort of violence aimed at breaking the spirit of their nation, time and again the attackers failed. They failed in Gernika in 1937, they failed in New York in 2001.
Today we mourn the victims of Gernika, but we honor them by continuing to work towards the peace and democratic will of the Basque Country.
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Friday, April 23, 2004
Ibarretxe calls for practical constitutionalism
Juan Jose Ibarretxe, the President of the Basque Autonomous Community, went to Madrid yesterday to ask that the “new opportunity” be seized by addressing the contents and not just the form, and to offer dialogue
Agencies – MADRID
In a speech given in Madrid yesterday Juan Jose Ibarretxe, the Lehendakari or President of the Basque Autonomous Community, highlighted a message in favour of dialogue. He said he had come to Madrid to offer “sincere dialogue and the readiness of the Basque institutions to resolve the problems of the Basque Country” and not to demand rectification or that people should give in. Lehendakari Juan Jose Ibarretxe had been invited by the Nueva Economía Forum to give a speech yesterday morning at a Madrid hotel. At midday he attended the opening of the legislative session of the Spanish Parliament.
Ibarretxe spoke about the “new opportunity” that had been presented by the elections and about the new atmosphere in favour of dialogue. His appearance in itself bore witness to the new atmosphere. Instead of the cool reception given to the Lehendakari of the Basque Government during the trips made in recent times, he received the support of Jose Luis Rodriguez-Zapatero’s new government: Jordi Sevilla, the Public Administration Minister, welcomed Ibarretxe. Numerous politicians attended the breakfast speech. Javier Rojo, the Speaker of the Senate or upper chamber of the Spanish parliament, Santiago Carrillo, the former secretary general of the PCE (Spanish Communist Party) and Ricardo Fluxa, the former Junior Minister for Security, were joined by others who had travelled down from the Basque Country. Among Ibarretxe’s listeners were Josu Jon Imaz, Chairman of the National Executive Committee (EBB) of the EAJ-PNV, Miren Azkarate, Basque Government spokesperson and Minister for Culture, Gorka Knörr, Deputy Speaker of the Basque Parliament, the PSOE MP Ramon Jauregui and the EAJ-PNV MP Josu Erkoreka.
Lehendakari Ibarretxe held the view that the new opportunity opened up by the PSOE coming to power should not be restricted to matters of form. In contrast, he referred to the need to “address the contents”. With respect to the reforms announced by the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez-Zapatero, Ibarretxe felt it was necessary to choose between two options: either to go down the road of “constitutional fundamentalism” or to choose the way of “practical constitutionalism”. The second option requires that political consensus be achieved first and afterwards that the law be adapted in accordance with that consensus.
In this respect Ibarretxe recalled that Rodriguez-Zapatero had said that he was prepared to accept what the people and Parliament of Catalonia accepted. In Madrid Ibarretxe posed the question as to whether he would be prepared to accept what the Basque Parliament and Basque society accepted. Ibarretxe said he was looking forward to meeting with Zapatero soon, but a date had yet to be fixed.
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Thursday, April 22, 2004
Eman ta zabal zazu
Arbola santua~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~Tree from gernika
Give and disseminate
Your fruit through the world
We adore you
Oak of Guernica! Tree of holier power
Than that which in Dodona did enshrine
(So faith too fondly deemed) a voice divine
Heard from the depths of its aerial bower,
How canst thou flourish at this blighting hour?
What hope, what joy can sunshine bring to thee,
Or the soft breezes from the Atlantic sea,
The dews of morn, or April's tender shower?
----Stroke merciful and welcome would that be
Which should extend thy branches on the ground,
If never more within their shady round
Those lofty-minded Lawgivers shall meet,
Peasant and Lord, in their appointed seat,
Guardians of Biscay's ancient liberty.~ William Wordsworth
Basques mourn death of 'freedom tree'
From The Times
THE Tree of Guernica, a symbol of freedom for Spain's Basque population, is dead.
The famous oak survived the Spanish Civil War bombing of the town made famous by Picasso's eponymous painting, but finally succumbed to, of all things, a heatwave.
News of a tree's demise rarely prompts obituaries in national newspapers, but that happened in Spain yesterday as Basques faced up to an uncertain political - and treeless - future.
The 146-year-old oak was at least the third known Tree of Guernica, in a tradition that stretches back to the Middle Ages.
Beneath their mighty boughs successive kings of Spain have had to swear the fueros - a centuries- old pact that guarantees Basque fiscal and political autonomy from the Spanish crown.
Basque political nationalism draws its strength from the tree's leafy shade, and the prime minister of the autonomous Basque region is sworn into office with a hand on its trunk, reciting: "Humble before God, standing on the Basque land ..."
And there lies the problem.
The change in the Spanish Government this month has raised the prospect of a difficult renegotiation of Basque freedoms from Madrid, in which the nationalists seek independence in all but name.
The Basques' more romantic supporters will worry that without their tree the talks will swing in favour of the Socialists in Madrid.
El Pais newspaper said the next months would be traumatic for the Basques, because it would take that long to remove the dead tree and replace it with a healthy one.
The recently deceased tree, according to an analysis of its rings, took root in 1858.
In April 1937, George Steer, a correspondent for The Times of London, took shelter under its branches as Guernica fell to a blitz by Nazi warplanes clandestinely supporting the rebel fascist general Francisco Franco.
Describing the devastating effect of the German bombers, Steer reported: "The whole town of Guernica was soon in flames ... but the famous oak of Guernica, the dried old stump of 600 years and the young new shoots of this century, was untouched."
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Monday, April 19, 2004
Right off the bat there was two problems; first of all my piece of shit car simply won't make it to Chicago, second, I was scheduled to work on Sunday.
I was not about to allow those two pity details to ruin my chance to meet with the few Basques living in the Midwest, so I called my co-worker Bryan to see if he could cover for me, he said yes without hesitating. Then I decided to rent a car to solve problem number two.
Next I proceeded to contact some friends to see if they wanted to tag along, the bad thing about short notice is that people usually have plans for the weekend, as a result no one could come, there was the one that didn't even bother getting back at me, that person is on the shit list now.
The trip to Chicago was uneventful with the exception of a fender bender that involved two SUV's and one van on Lakeshore Drive, and thanks to Mapquest it was easy to find the place which was not too far from the Loyola University, as on the Basque fella Ignatius de Loyola who founded the Jesuit order.
It was a lot of fun, I met some excellent people and had the chance to engage on brainy and fun conversations with quite a few of them, note to myself, I need to print some business cards for events like this one. Around 3:00 pm we ate and then there was some dancing to Basque music that would be a delight for any Irish person. I had to call it quits around 7:00 pm because one, I was getting tipsy and that is a long arse ride all the way back home from Chicago and two, the previous night some friends came by the house and we had dinner and drinks until 2:00 am, so I was a little tired.
I hope I can continue to meet with these most excellent Baskos from Chicago, and don't forget:
Gora Euskal Herria!
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Call to present list for whole of Basque Country in European elections
A group of citizens has “undertaken” to put forward a proposal to reflect the whole of the Basque Country in the June 13 elections; it will be debated on April 24 in an open assembly at the Miramar Palace in Donostia (San Sebastian)
Eider Goenaga – DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
In Donostia yesterday a group of citizens put forward a proposal for the coming European elections to present a national electoral list that will take the whole of the Basque Country into consideration. “On June 13 all of us Basque citizens throughout the Basque Country and on the same day will for the first time have a historic opportunity to vote in Europe,” explained Robert Arranbide, the former elected representative of Hendaia (Hendaye), on behalf of the promoters of the initiative. He felt it would be “inexcusable and a great pity” to miss this chance to stand as a country before Europe: “They won’t be national elections, as we would have liked, but we will all be voting together on the same day in a national way and we regard this as indispensable to demonstrate the reality to Europe in the clearest of terms.”
The group of well-known and less well-known faces met together in the press conference to announce the initiative: Mikel Alzuart, Candido Esoain, Sabino Cuadra, Robert Arranbide, Sonia Gonzalez, Walter Wendellin, Xabier Silveira and Ane Agirregomezkorta. “If we leave political differences aside, what unites us is the fact that we are Basque citizens; we come from different parts of the Basque Country divided by frontiers we neither recognise nor accept; we do not represent anyone, nor do we wish to do so,” they said by way of defining themselves.
The people who had gathered for yesterday’s press conference not only proposed and sought a way for the whole of the Basque Country to be taken into consideration, they also proclaimed the right of “all citizens” to take part in the European elections. “They are European elections and all of us, the citizens of the oldest country in Europe, have the right to participate in the elections and, in particular, the obligation to be present, because this new European Union they are building could condition the future of the Basque Country.”
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Saturday, April 17, 2004
It was a little bit of cosmic justice to see the midget and his junta to go down in flames after they tried to use the tragedy in Madrid for political gain, they should be taken to The Hague for the way they tried to blame the bombings on the whole of the Basque society and the lies that they told to archive such lame goal.
But the truth is, Zapatero, the new Spanish Prime Minister brings with him the burden of the actions of his own party against the Basques, for it was the PSOE the party that deployed the GAL (Grupos Armados de Liberacion), a state sposored terrorist group that conducted abductions, assasinations and practiced torture against Basque activists.
That may explain what happened in Madrid, here is the note at Berria English:
EAJ-PNV, EA and Nafarroa Bai abstain in vote to endorse Zapatero
The Spanish Congress has nominated Zapatero as Prime Minister with the votes in favour of the PSOE, ERC, IU, BNG, CC and CHA
With the investiture session over the deputies or members of the Spanish Congress (lower chamber of parliament) nominated Jose Luis Rodriguez-Zapatero as Spanish Prime Minister with an absolute majority. He won the support not only of his own party, the PSOE, but also of the ERC, the IU- ICV, the BNG, the CC and the CHA (Aragonese Party). Having secured a total of 183 votes Zapatero will be the next Spanish Prime Minister. The Basque nationalist parties represented in the Spanish parliament, however, did not back Zapatero’s nomination, but neither did they vote against it. The EAJ-PNV, EA and Nafarroa Bai wanted to express their “scepticism” by not voting in favour. Nevertheless, they also expressed the “hope” that things would change, because they did not vote against him. The CiU of Catalonia also abstained.
The votes in favour that endorsed the PSOE candidate as Prime Minister came from the 164 members of Zapatero’s own party, from the 8 ERC members, the 5 IU-ICV deputies, the 3 CC (Canary Islands Coalition) members, two came from the BNG and one from the Chunta Aragonesista (Aragonese Party). So Zapatero secured an absolute majority with the backing of 183 votes. The only party that voted against the socialist candidate was the PP. So there were 148 votes against the new Spanish Prime Minister.
With respect to the abstention of the Basque nationalist parties, Begoña Lasagabaster, the EA deputy, explained her own abstention as a “waiting period”. She said she had her doubts as to whether the Zapatero Government would implement “real changes”. She gave the relations between the Spanish Government and the Basque Government as an example and as a test which had to be passed. The Eusko Alkartasuna (EA) deputy abstained as an expression of hope that the next socialist Government could bring about a democratic revival.
Uxue Barkos, the Nafarroa Bai deputy, pointed out yesterday that their abstention had not been aimed at “placing obstacles in the way of the investiture”. Moreover, she was in favour of the abstention option in order “to go on highlighting what the challenges are and the way to facilitate rapprochement.”
As Josu Erkoreka of the EAJ explained in his speech on Thursday, “it is not clear whether the changes Zapatero plans to implement will affect the ways or manner of doing things or whether they will go deeper.”
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Friday, April 16, 2004
Navarre, the Basque Kingdom
On your current issue you cover the story about the bombings in Madrid last week in which hundreds of innocent people were killed or wounded. I am guessing that since the Spanish government decided to use Basque nationalism as a escapegoat to their arrogance and disdain for the will of their own people you decided to print a map of Western Europe where you illustrate where the Basque Country is. The problem is, from the seven provinces that conform the Basque Country you willfully removed Navarre from the map. It is a real shame that you decided to legitimize what the murderous dictator Francisco Franco claimed throughout his reign of terror in Spain. Navarre was for hundred of years the kingdom of the Basques, if this ancient people ever claimed a state that was the Navarrese kingdom that at its height encompassed not only all the seven provinces but parts of Gascony. Today the Basque Country is divided in two states (Spain and France) and three political entities: The Foral Community of Navarre (Navarre) and the Autonomous Basque Community (Alava, Viscaya and Guipuzcoa) in Spain and within the Atlantic Pyrenees Department the provinces of Labourd, Basse-Navarre and Soule in France. In order to provide accurate information to your readers it would be good if you print a map of the Basque Country that is not missing a piece. In the Basque Country we say, Zazpiak Bat, the seven are one, and their Basque names of our provinces are Nafarroa, Araba, Gipuzkoa, Zuberoa, Bizkaia, Lapurdi and Behe-Nafarroa.
I was hoping they would publish it on the magazine as part of our ongoing campaign to get the media to be accurate when it comes to the Basques, well, not such luck. But today I got this letter from Time Magazine:
Thank you for writing prompted by the section labeled "Basque areas," on the map of Spain and part of Southwestern France that was included with the March 15 report "A Deadly Morning." We have made note of your charge that Navarra is missing from the Basque areas, and we agree that the area taken up by the province--between the Ebro River and the West Pyrenees, and bordering France--was not fully represented. But, with our apologies for the skimpiness, we ask that you consider the fact that the map was drawn only in outline, as it was intended to give a general idea of the geographical context of the Basque Country, not to identify its seven provinces.
Again, our thanks for letting us hear from you, and best wishes.
Ask and you shall receive...
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Thursday, April 15, 2004
TAT: “Last year was a significant one in the anti-torture campaign”
They say “a massive outcry” against torture has come from society, but the momentum has to be kept up
Ainhoa Oiartzabal – HERNANI (Gipuzkoa)
“Unfortunately, we’ve already begun to gather material for next year’s book. Because there are arrests and tortured people.” That is how Iñigo Elkoro, the TAT-Anti-Torture Group lawyer, began yesterday’s presentation of the book which provides an assessment of 2003. It will be distributed on April 24 and 25 together with the Gara daily newspaper. Thereafter it will be on sale at bookshops.
In the TAT’s view, 2003 was “a significant year” in the anti-torture campaign. Indeed, “there was a massive outcry against torture from Basque society when detainees denounced tortures in the wake of the closing down of Egunkaria, but unfortunately it did not last.” Elkoro stressed that this attitude was “praiseworthy, but we are going to repeat what we have said time and time again: this momentum of denunciation has to be kept up, if we are to put an end to torture.” In this respect, the TAT lawyer highlighted the 50,000 signatures against torture collected last year and made a call to politicians: “Society has shown it is prepared to take steps against torture. Now it is up to the political parties to take up society’s cause.” After the political assessment, Elkoro and Aiert Larrarte, the TAT representatives, presented the main areas covered by the book. A number of them are referred to below.
25th Anniversary of the Spanish Constitution
“Last year was the 25th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution and although it prohibits any form of torture, 10,000 Basque citizens have been arrested and held incommunicado over the past 25 years. 25% of them have suffered torture or bad treatment.” Elkoro added that six people had died as a result.
In the lawyer’s view, it has become patently clear over the last 25 years that the Constitution is no guarantee against the use of torture on Basque citizens: “On the contrary, laws have been changed to ensure torture can be used.”
Criticism from international institutions
Elkoro highlighted the fact that Spain had come in for fierce criticism abroad over the last few years. “We can refer, for example, to the visit by Theo van Boven, the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, and to the criticism voiced by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.”
Change in attitude of the French Police
“Last year saw the French Police joining the torturers’ club”. In fact, four people arrested by the French Police in 2003 denounced torture.
Role of court-appointed doctors
The book deals at length with the part played by the court-appointed doctors. In this respect Benito Morentin, a Bilbo court-appointed doctor, Itxaso Idoiaga, the TAT doctor, and Hans Draminsky Petersen, member of the Danish association Physicians for Human Rights (Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims) examined the work of Spanish court-appointed doctors, criticised them and explained what they should be like.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Here you have it:
Spain ‘antiterror’ drive targets workers’ rights
Imperialist powers in Europe step up police spying
BY PATRICK O’NEILL
Targeting Moroccan immigrants, police in Spain have arrested 20 people as part of the “antiterror” campaign that the government there has intensified since the March 11 train bombings in Madrid. Those detained are being held under Spain’s Antiterrorist Law, which allows authorities to jail individuals for extended periods without a trial, restrict their access to legal counsel, and deprive them of other rights. For years the law has primarily been used to victimize Basque independence supporters.
Imperialist governments throughout Europe have seized on the Madrid bombings to step up police spying and disruption and other attacks on the rights of working people. At a March 25-26 summit in Brussels, the European Union approved a series of “antiterrorism” measures, including increased cooperation among the spy agencies of member governments.
Making it clear that his administration will use the “war on terrorism” to defend Spanish imperialist interests in the world, incoming prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has announced that the number of Spanish troops that are part of the NATO occupation force in Afghanistan will be doubled to 250. Zapatero has said that the Spanish troops in Iraq will remain there if the international occupation force comes under United Nations sponsorship.
Only five of those arrested in Spain have been charged with taking part in the March 11 attacks and “belonging to a terrorist group.”
Another six have not been accused of participation in the bombing but rather of “collaborating with a terrorist group.”
Under Spain’s Antiterrorism Law, those arrested by police can be held incommunicado for five days. They can be jailed for up to four years while prosecutors conduct an “investigation” to find charges to be brought against them.
The law, which has been used for years against Basque independence fighters—and against the leadership of the dockworkers union in 1995—gives the minister of the interior the power to order searches, wiretaps, and the opening of mail without court warrants.
Spanish, German, and French police have cooperated in the arrests. Three of those detained were formerly legal residents of Germany. According to German television, Berlin’s secret police claim the three are linked to “Hamas and other extremist groups” and has declared them to be among 300 Muslims in Germany dubbed “potential terrorists,” without explaining what that vague category means.
The media and authorities present Moroccan immigrant Jamal Zougam, a resident of Spain, as the “prime suspect” in the bombings. All but one of those arrested—the Spanish-born man, accused of selling explosives for the bombings—have denied any involvement in the attacks. One told the court that he learned of the attacks on the morning of March 11 while watching television with his children.
Of those arrested in connection with the bombings, 15 are immigrants from Morocco. Others are from Syria, Algeria, and India; one was born in Spain.
In Spain today there are an estimated 2.2 million immigrants, the largest number of whom are Moroccans, estimated to number some 334,000. About one-third of them live in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia.
Madrid has used the March 11 train bombings, in which 190 people were killed, to broaden its “antiterrorism” offensive, especially among North African immigrants. The March 25 International Herald Tribune noted that Spanish authorities have undertaken a “crackdown on Muslim groups following the Madrid rail bombings,” including people not accused of any link to the attacks.
As one example, the big-business daily reported that Spanish High Court judge Baltasar Garzon had “ordered the return to prison of four suspected Muslim radicals who were released last year by another judge.” The judge cited “new police reports” but provided no evidence and presented no charges against them.
At the time of their original arrests in January 2003, Prime Minister José María Aznar claimed that his government had smashed a “major terror network.” Two of the men were released within a couple of months after the traces of chemical weapons they were accused of storing at their homes turned out to be laundry soap.
On March 25 police in the Spanish city of Valencia released one Syrian and two Algerian citizens, after having jailed them on accusations of membership in a “radical Islamic cell and armed group.”
Offensive against Basque nationality
Under the banner of fighting “ETA terrorism” Madrid has also stepped up its attacks on the struggle for self-determination by the Basque people, an oppressed nationality in both Spain and France. ETA is an armed Basque independence group that over the years has claimed responsibility for killing numerous Spanish government officials and others.
On March 22 Prime Minister-elect Zapatero dismissed an offer of talks announced by ETA the previous day. “The only communiqué I await from ETA,” he said, “is one in which it abandons violence.”
Aznar’s government waged an intense crackdown against Basque organizations, arresting more than 150 people last year accused of membership in ETA and claiming success in reducing the number of ETA actions.
Nearly 600 Basque political prisoners are in French or Spanish jails. In Spain, most of these have been jailed under the Antiterrorist Law.
The Socialist Party (PSOE) government of Felipe González, which preceded the Aznar administration, was particularly notorious for its repression against the Basque movement.
Under González, who served as prime minister from 1982 to 1996, the government waged a brutal “dirty war” against the Basque pro-sovereignty movement, including the use of death squads such as the Antiterrorist Liberation Group (GAL), made up of cops. Revelations about police murders of 27 people accused of being ETA members helped to end González’s reign in disgrace.
Without offering a scrap of evidence, Aznar and other government officials, along with Zapatero and other PSOE leaders, initially blamed ETA for the March 11 attacks.
The Spanish rulers sought to whip up public opinion to step up their attacks on the rights of working people and the Basque struggle.
Among those helping mobilize a large turnout for “antiterrorist” demonstrations after the bombings were the two main trade union federations—Workers’ Commissions (CC.OO.), led by the Communist Party, and the General Workers Union (UGT), led by the PSOE. In a joint statement issued March 11, the CC.OO. and UGT blamed “the terrorist ETA group.” The union officials called on workers to join a 15-minute “moment of silence” in order to “express solidarity with the victims and their families and roundly condemn terrorism.” They urged participation in nationwide government-sponsored mobilizations March 12.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
There is festivities both in the Basque Country and in every Eusko Etxea around the world, from Sydney to New York to Mexico City to Buenos Aires.
It is a day to celebrate our Basque identity, our culture, our language.
Gora Euskal Herria Askatuta!
Long Live the Basque Country!
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Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Yesterday, the Audencia Nacional decreed that Xarlo and three other members of the political federation Udalbiltza, Loren Arkotxa, Miren Josu Aranburu and Imanol Esnaola, will be released from prison upon posting bail. We are extremely happy that these men and women will finally be released from prison and we fully expect that they will be found innocent of charges when their trials do come up in the next year or so. The question is, why did it take six months and more for these people to be released from prison? Maybe now that actual ETA members are being captured, the authorities decided to release some of the innocent prisoners? Maybe under the new government, the authorities are trying to send a message that they can be a little more reasonable? Who knows...this is all conjecture.
I would also like to remind you of the tragic case of Ainara Gorostiaga who was just released from prison this past week after serving 2 years for a crime she did not commit. For two years she proclaimed her innocence and declared that her confessions and testimony given against several other people were tortured out of her. For two years the authorities ignored her pleas, claiming she was just following the ETA handbook by claiming torture. Then, a real member of ETA, Ibon Fernandez-Irati, was captured and in his papers were the accounts of the killing that Ainara was accused of, accounts which proved her innocence and the innocence of those she implicated under torture. Ainara was immediately set free.
You would think that the human rights organizations in Spain would be outraged. There has been no comment. You would think that a story like this would be front page news. Spanish newspapers have not carried the story; only Basque newspapers.
Perhaps an American newspaper will do what the Spanish papers won't?
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Tuesday, April 06, 2004
And all of this is the legacy that the spanking new Professor at Georgetown University leaves behind. Hundreds of Basques are today in jail for the only crime of loving their country and working towards the advancement of Basque culture, language and the dream of achieving self determination.
While the Spanish regime was busy prosecuting innocent people (and holding their lives in the mean time preventing them from using them to strenghten the Basque organizations working towards solidifying the Basque cultural and political identities), the real terrorists got deep within the Spanish state and were able to plan the attacks on Madrid and the subsequent acts of violence like the bomb found on a train last week and the standoff that resulted on the death of four terrorists and one special forces agent, a bombing that also destroyed a building and wounded eleven police officers.
And I say it was bittersweet because eight more people related to the Udalbiltza case are still in jail, waiting for the Spanish Inquisidor Baltasar Garzon to either free them or hold them for even a longer time on some hokey pokey charges,
Freedom to the Udalbiltza eight!
Arkotxa, Esnaola, Etxezaharreta and Aranburu to go free
If the four are released today, another seven linked to the case will still be in prison
Eider Goenaga – DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
Loren Arkotxa, Imanol Esnaola, Miren Josu Aranburu and Xarlo Etxezaharreta, four
of the people linked to the Udalbiltza case and who had been in custody, are to be allowed to leave prison today after the Spanish National Criminal Court ordered that they should be released on bail. The Court’s decision was announced yesterday, but the families of the four did not have time to pay. Once they have done so, the detainees could leave prison today. Arkotxa, Esnaola and Aranburu have been ordered to post bail of 30,000 euros each and Etxezaharreta 60,000 euros.
When the four are released, seven will remain in custody in connection with the Udalbiltza case: Karmele Urbistondo, Miriam Campos, Lander Etxebarria, Txema Jurado, Oskar Goñi, Xabier Alegria and Joseba Garmendia. Back in September and October last year Eider Casanova, Leire Idoiaga and Larraitz Sanzberro were released by Judge Baltasar Garzon.
On April 29 it will be a year since Judge Baltasar Garzon ordered the raid on Udalbiltza. His committal warrant states that Udalbiltza is “ ETA’s tool”. He outlawed Udalbiltza and accused the detainees of being ETA members and of promoting the creation of the AuB and the town platforms (*) on the orders of the organisation. The Spanish Supreme Court in fact based its suspension of the AuB and the town platforms on Garzon’s warrant.
In that police raid Garzon remanded eight people in custody –Campos, Etxebarria, Idoiaga, Casanova, Urbistondo, Sanzberro, Jurado and Goñi– and despite the Public Prosecutor’s request to allow Idoiaga to go free, the Judge remanded them all in custody. But the Udalbiltza operation did not end there. On May 23 last year Garzon summoned four more people to give evidence and except for Xabier Iragorri, the Mayor of Oiartzun (Gipuzkoa), the other three –Arkotxa, Esnaola and Aranburu– were remanded in custody. On the same day he also questioned Xabier Alegria, detained in connection with the operation against Egunkaria, and Joseba Garmendia, in custody in the operation against Batasuna’s Herriko Tabernas and party premises. Both were already in custody and Garzon added Udalbiltza to their previous charges. The last arrest was that of Xarlo Etxezaharreta. Garzon took advantage of a visit to the Southern Basque Country of this former elected representative of Hazparne (Lapurdi). His arrest took place in Abadiño (Bizkaia) when he was participating in Askapena’s Internationalist Day. He was charged with working to consolidate Udalbiltza in the Northern Basque Country, despite the fact that it had not been outlawed there.
(*) Set up to represent Basque nationalist left interests in the May 2003 municipal elections after Batasuna had been banned.
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Monday, April 05, 2004
What is he gonna teach, how to manipulate the media? How to demonize an entire culture? How to make Adolph Hitler look good?
Here you can read what the Georgetown University has to say about him, what a crock!
One has to see it to believe it!
MADRID (Reuters) - Outgoing Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, a close ally of U.S. President George W. Bush, has accepted a post as associate professor at Georgetown University in Washington, a government spokesman said on Monday.
Aznar is due to step down later this month following Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's surprise victory in March 14 general elections, three days after suspected al Qaeda train bombings in Madrid.
Aznar, who retired at the election after two successive terms, has until now been coy about what he would do next and speculation over his future has provided endless material for political pundits.
The Catholic university, which was founded in 1789 and ranks former U.S. President Bill Clinton amongst its alumni, said that Aznar had been named Distinguished Scholar in the Practice of Global Leadership.
"I am greatly looking forward to this opportunity with Georgetown University. It will be a privilege for me to join the faculty of this world-class institution in the fields of international relations and political studies," Aznar was quoted as saying on the university's Web page.
Aznar, who angered some of his European counterparts with his support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq last year, will teach seminars on contemporary European politics and transatlantic relations, the university said.
What had long been billed as Aznar's triumphant retirement from politics was marred by the March 11 bombings, which killed 191 people and contributed to the shock defeat of his hand-picked successor Mariano Rajoy.
Aznar's initial insistence that Basque separatist guerrillas ETA were the main suspects, despite growing evidence of militant Islamic involvement, was seen as an important factor in Zapatero's victory.
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U.S. WOMEN ABROAD (April 4): Maite Zabala spends debut on the bench
4/5/2004 9:17:00 AM
Former WUSA goalkeeper Maite Zabala, who signed last week with Spanish League club Athletic Bilbao, watched from the bench as the Basque power rallied to beat visiting Estudiantes, 3-1, Sunday in a Superliga clash.
Zabala, who has Basque ancestry, agreed to join Athletic for the final five matches of the Spanish campaign. Elixabete Capa was in the nets for Athletic, which remained even on points (but behind on goal-differential) with Sabadell atop the Superliga standings.
Zabala, who played with the WUSA's Atlanta Beat, Philadelphia Charge and Carolina Courage, is an assistant coach at the University of California, her alma mater.
No Americans saw action in an abbreviated German League schedule.
Dianne Garza (SC 07 Bad Neuenahr, D1), at FSV Frankfurt, 1-0.
DNP. Second successive Frauen-Bundesliga victory vaults Bad Neuenahr (5-6-2) into seventh place, just two points from fifth. Season league stats: 0 games, 0 goals.
* Maite Zabala (Athetic Bilbao, D1), vs. Estudiantes, 3-1.
DNP. Athletic (16-3-3) scored three second-half goals to keep pace with first-place Sabadell in the Superliga.
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Sunday, April 04, 2004
Bayern Munich's Basque World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu wants to spend another season with the reigning German champions and is set to sit down with the club hierarchy to discuss a new deal.
Sounds like since he is "ageing" Bayern Munich is considering replacing him, hopefully he still has a couple more seasons in him and he can go play at the Athletic de Bilbao or the Real Sociedad de San Sebastian, even with the Osasuna de Pamplona.
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