Friday, March 02, 2007

Basque Police Brutality

This information was sent to us by the Irish Basque Committees:


Basque police charged on demonstrators in Bilbao's banned rally

The rally organized Saturday afternoon in Bilbao to demand "self-determination" and "amnesty" turned into a pitched battle. Basque Police charged with force on demonstrators, while several of them clashed with the police.

At least 22 demonstratorS were injured. Several of them were seen at the Basurto Hospital. An 81-aged woman fractured her pelvis. One of Batasuna's leaders, Pernando Barrena was moved to the hospital, while Eusebio Lasa had to pass the night in the hospital as consequence of a hard blow received to the head.

Two demonstrators were arrested, among whom the outlawed Batasuna's member Joseba Permach. He was released before midnight.

Great tension

Just before the beginning of the rally, Basque police authorities said demonstrators they could not hold the rally, as banned by Spain's High Court. The rally was organized under the slogan "Hitza eta erabakia, lurraldetasuna eta aministia" ("Word and decision, territoriality and amnesty").

Seven police vans of the Basque Police and a helicopter blocked the beginning of the rally, in which participated outlawed Batasuna's spokesman Arnaldo Otegi and former spokesman of Gestoras Pro Amnistia Juan Mari Olano among others.

In front of the police cordon, demonstrators were shouting slogans such as "Bakerik ez, amnistiarik gabe" (No peace without aministy), "Euskal presoak, etxera" (Basque prisoners home) and slogans supporting the Basque prisoner Iñaki de Juana Chaos. A group of demonstrators were carrying a banner with the slogan "Self-determination. Amnesty."

Basque police deployed a cordon to prevent the rally and finally charged on the demonstrators. Several demonstrators, journalists and policemen were injured. Ambulances came to see them. Two demonstrators were arrested, among whom the Outlawed Batasuna's spokesman Joseba Permach.

During a statement on Radio Euskadi, Barrena considered Josu Jon Imaz, leader of the Basque nationalist party PNV, as "political responsible" of what happened during the banned rally in Bilbao.

According to him, PNV leader Imaz "send a clear message to the socialist government in Madrid" about "how to deal with the Basque nationalist movement."

Request to Zapatero

Batasuna's spokesman affirmed that still existed "a serious possibility to resolve the conflict," considering necessary the implementation of Spain's Government and especially of its president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

During an event in the Basque town of Leitza, he said that "despite the difficulties and the complicated moment, all opportunities are still open," although he warned "the process can't progress beating the Basque nationalist movement and with a war strategy." He added the "only recipe" is dialogue.

The Basque parties clearly disagreed on the incidents of Saturday's rally in Bilbao.

Mikel Arana, spokesman of the Ezker Batua, demanded Basque Department of Interior explanations. Arana qualified the incidents as "lamentable" and defended the right of demonstration. After he asked Basque police explanations, he called the Basque nationalist movement to "avoid confrontations."

Unai Ziarreta, leader of Basque party EA, affirmed Bilbao's incidents were a negative consequence of the Party Law.

The Basque party Aralar criticized Basque Police's use of violence and insisted on the right of demonstration.

The Basque socialist party PSE hold the Basque nationalist movement responsible for the incidents. Its leader Miguel Buen considered Basque Police "couldn't do anything else."

The conservative party PP not only hold the Basque nationalist movement responsible, they also criticized all those who are backing the peace process. According to its leader Antonio Basagoiti the pitched battle proved that "the peace process had brought ETA back to life."

Photos at: GazteSarea

Keep up to date on Basque struggle news at: Irish Basque Committees

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