Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blockade and Political Apartheid

We just received this communique from the Irish Basque Committees:

The Spanish government tries to blockade a new political initiative arresting 10 prominent Basque pro-independence activists

Less than two months after the Spanish Interior Minister’s threats against the Basque pro-independence left’s new political proposals last evening 10 people were arrested in Donostia/San Sebastian. All of them are prominent Basque pro-independence activists like Batasuna’s spokesperson Arnaldo Otegi and former LAB trade union leader Rafa Diez. Another one, Rufi Etxebarria, had been released from jail just one week ago after spending two years in prison for being a member of the outlawed Batasuna party.

Five of them were arrested in the LAB trade union’s offices and the others in different places around the country. All of them are being accused by the Spanish authorities and pro-Spanish media of reorganising the Basque pro-independence left’s leadership.

While some sort of repressive action was expected after weeks of strong Spanish criminalization and pressure the arrestes have shocked and outraged the majority of Basque society. Several political parties and the main trade unions have already spoken out against the police operation. According to them the arrests are political and are directed at preventing any new political initiative by the pro-independence left to bring the Basque Country to a scenario of peace and democracy.

It’s been publicly known that the Basque pro-independence left has been involved in a deep strategic debate for the last few months. At the same time discussions have been held with other progressive and pro-independence parties, trade unions and social organizations in order to form a strong pro-self-determination front.

Over the last 13 years every time the pro-independence left has taken a new political step the Spanish authorities have responded with police operations. Batasuna’s spokesperson Arnaldo Otegi is a good example of it as he has been arrested and imprisoned on numerous ocasions for his political work. Just last week he was told he will be tried for the so called “Anoeta event” in 2004 when himself and other Basque pro-independence movement representatives launched a peace proposal in front of 15,000 people. The proposal was widely accepted and set the way for dialogue and resolution which led to the 2005 negotiations between ETA and the Spanish government and ETA’s 2006 ceasefire.

Despite the attacks the Spanish authorities haven’t been able to stop the Basque pro-independence left’s political initiative and strength. Arnaldo Otegi quoting father Alec Reid has repeated on many ocasions that “the more reasonable our proposals are the more they’ll persecute us”.

Since 2002 the Basque left has had to organise in the most difficult conditions, mainly underground due to the Spanish authorities continuous criminalisation policies. However the pro-independence movement has always kept a public profile refusing to be silenced.

At a conference in Bilbao last week United Nations Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin warned that cutting off the political ways is extremely dangerous.

As has happened in previous repressive attacks the Basque pro-independence left has also declared today: “Against more repression we’ll respond with more political initiative".

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