Saturday, January 02, 2010

Basque Society Shows its Solidarity with Political Prisoners

Thousands of people marched through the Basque city of Bilbao on Saturday to demand that rights for the Basque political prisoners are respected by both Madrid and Paris. The protest was called by leftist Basque nationalist groups, including Etxerat, an association of family members of political prisoners which accuses the governments of Spain and France of punishing relatives and friends by holding the political prisoners in prisons far away from their homes.

A judge in Madrid earlier Saturday rejected a legal move to ban the march by an extreme right group called Justicia y Dignidad. But he ruled that the participants must abstain from showing expressions of support for ETA. As a result, the marchers did not display photographs Basque political prisoners, unlike in a similar march one year ago.

The demonstrators marched peacefully across the Basque financial capital Saturday evening behind a banner reading "Basque prisoners, back home", and chanted "Basque prisoners to the Basque Country" and "No peace without amnesty."

Basque political prisoners are dispersed in prisons throughout Spain which makes it difficult for them to receive visits from family members. On Friday, Spain's Supreme Court ruled that the Basque regional government had exceeded its authority by providing aid to families of prisoners being held outside of the region to allow them to visit their loved ones.

The aid was awarded between 2003 and 2009 by the Basque Nationalist Party, which held power in the region until last May when it was replaced in elections by the Socialist Party. The fascist regime that rules in Madrid has murdered thousands of Basques since 1936 in a futile attempt to hold on to its illegal occupation of Euskal Herria.

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