Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Media and Otegi

As you may know by now, Arnaldo Otegi has been released from jail. The media all over the world is dedicating some articles about this issue but as usual, they doing little more than to repeat the press release from Madrid.

I'll give you three examples:

Deutsche Welle says: Spain Releases Basque Separatist Otegi From Prison

The New York Times claims: Basque Separatist, Free From Spanish Prison, Backs Talks

And The Herald Tribune: Basque politician freed from prison

Few different words here and there but pretty much this is what all of them say:

A former leader of the banned Basque separatist party Batasuna was released from prison on Saturday, having served a 15-month sentence for glorifying terrorism.

Arnaldo Otegi, 50, was met by dozens of supporters as he left the jail in the northern coastal town of San Sebastian.

"There is an unresolved problem in this country," Otegi told reporters. "I personally consider this problem will only be solved through dialogue and negotiation."

Otegi also said that during the process "all Basque political prisoners must be freed."

While serving his sentence Ortegi reportedly kept a low profile, spending his time learning English and only having rare visits from political figures. Asked what he had planned for the future, he said only, "We'll see."

He was imprisoned following a failed appeal against charges of glorifying terrorism in a speech praising a member of ETA, the Basque separatist group.

Otegi's detention in June 2007 came days after ETA called off a ceasefire with the Spanish government. He is believed to have been a key figure in the resumption of violent attacks against the Spanish state.

Batsuna has been banned since 2003 for refusing to formally sever links with ETA, which has waged a 40-year terror campaign for Basque independence in which 823 people have died.

Absolutely no editorial style that could tell you that you are reading a news paper from Germany, or from England or from the United States, they all parrot whatever Spain says.

And what is the problem?

Well, none of them dares to even question the press release. They are quite happy with switching a few words on the header and that's it.

The truth is, Arnaldo Otegi ended up in jail because he represented the part of the Basque society that honestly backed the most recent attempt at peace negotiations between the political forces in Euskal Herria, Spain and France. His only sin was to trust Zapatero a little bit too much. From the beginning Zapatero showed no desire to see the peace negotiations through, all what he did was to escalate the violent repression against Basque society going to the extent of ordering the ETA delegates to the peace talks arrested, something that violates international agreements.

But Zapatero was not alone in this ill conceived strategy against the peace talks, he had supporters, and I am not talking about Juan Carlos Borbon nor the PP led by Mariano Rajoy, oh no, I am talking about how Ibarretxe and other prominent members of the PNV stalled the peace talks as much as they could for one simple reason: Otegi represents those who want full independence for Euskal Herria (and that includes the seven provinces) while Ibarretexe represents those who want a new political frame of co-dependence between Madrid and the Basque Autonomous Community (meaning only three out of the seven provinces).

They needed an scape goat, and they put Otegi in jail. Strangely enough, unlike they do for Mandela, they do not call Otegi a political prisoner.

By the way, shall I remind the media outlets about the principle called "presumption of innocence"?

Batasuna stands accused of being the political wing of ETA, yet, the banning took place more than five years ago and to date Madrid is yet to present one single piece of evidence to support its accusation, which leads us to a second principle called "expedite trial".

Both principles are being violated and the media keeps quiet about it, in doing so, news paper editors from around the world become apologists of an authoritarian and fascist regime.

And I can not end this post without stating this, with the Afghan and Iraqi civilians death toll approaching the two million people, two wars over oil and gas profits, how dare the USA apply the "terrorist" label to anyone?

Oh, and by the way, Spain has taken part in both wars.

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