The Spanish government, via its Basque Autonomous Community representative Javier de Andres, has desisted from its attempt to fine ARGIA journalist Axier Lopez. As a result of the magazine's appeal against the fine, a trial was to be held in Gasteiz on March 13th. Without having to go to trial, ARGIA is free from having to pay a fine for its journalism.
On March 3rd 2016, ARGIA was fined for reporting on a street operation carried out by the Spanish police. In the year since, the Spanish government has defended its explanations for punishing and fining ARGIA. Conservative party PP, completely alone in political terms, has been opposed by many stakeholders: all journalist associations in the Basque Country and in the Spanish State, many international defenders of freedom of expression and the free press, and the Spanish Ombudsman, amongst others.
They wanted to punish ARGIA because of this Tweet:
— Axier Lopez (@axierL) 2016(e)ko martxoak 3
Just a few days before the trial, the Spanish government has decided to relinquish its claims, claiming that there is some difficulty with the form of the fine. The government has now claimed, when the case was about to reach court, that the fine had not be properly administered one year ago. In spite of saying the exact opposite then, the Spanish government has chosen to relinquish the fine rather than see its Gag Law in the courts. Claiming that there were problems of form with Article 36.23 of the Gag Law and the right to record the police, they have refused to offer further explanations.
This was the first instance of the Gag Law's Article 36.23 being used in the Spanish state against a journalist. And the first victory against it as well.
36.23 is one of the Gag Law's most fiercely opposed articles. This article makes it possible to impose fines of between 601 and 30.000 euros for broadcasting police agents' photographs, or personal or professional data, whenever "the agents' or their relatives' security is put at risk".
It is in the police's power to judge the "appropriateness" of those photos or data, with no independent judges or other entities taking part in the decision. The police becomes the judge and jury. Most civil and political rights groups and journalist associations have protested that the Article infringes the right to provide information about civil servants' work.
The victory achieved in this case will be an important precedent in corroborating that recording the police's work is a civil and press right. ARGIA, too, has proclaimed this, and the most recent example of this is the "Recording the Police is not a Crime" series of reports, which Ahotsa, Topatu, Ekinklik and Hala Bedi local media have drawn up in collaboration with the Eleak/Libre movement.
The European Court of Human Rights has condemned the Spanish State for torturing Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola. The judges decided that Spain had contravened the 3rd clause of the European Convention. The Spanish State has to pay the two men 30,000 and 20,000 Euros, respectively, "for moral damages".
Andoain Town Council (Gipuzkoa, Basque Country) has signed an agreement with Fiare. Socially excluded citizens, and those in danger of being so, will be able to ask for loans from the ethical bank without the guarantees required by traditional banks.
The Basque feminist movement gave the details of the strike which it has called for 8th March at Donostia's Tabakalera International Contemporary Art Centre.
On 13th May, 2017 at Usurbil station (Gipuzkoa, Basque Country) Donostian Martin Goitiandia, who was protesting against the Spanish Gag Law, was seriously injured by a train. Now the Basque police have taken him, along with the person who waited with him for the ambulance to arrive, to court. The trial will be held on 5th March in Donostia.
"We are announcing the biggest demonstration ever to be held in the Basque Country" was how last week's message began. The organisers of Gure Esku Dago presented the project in front of the Donostia Eureka! science museum. They want to link the Basque cities of Donostia, Bilbao and Gasteiz on 10th June, 2018, and they will need at least 100,000 people to do so.
Susana Uribetxeberria, Basque prisoner Xabier Ugarte Villar's wife, had an accident on 27th January. It happened at dusk after she had visited her husband in prison, and while fortunately she was not hurt, this was the first accident in 2018 caused by the dispersion policy for prisoners.
Jesus Mari Txurruka was to make his declaration at Bergara municipal court in Gipuzkoa last Saturday, the 20th of January. His grandfather's brother died in a Hamburg concentration camp in 1945; Franco's forces had killed his great-grandmother in cold blood nine years earlier at her farmstead at Elgeta in the Basque Country. But Jesus Mari is not going to make any such declaration. And nor are the other 13 victims' relatives who should have done so in January.
The murders which took place in the Otxarkoaga district of Bilbao on the 18th of January have started a debate. Karlos Renedo, a member of Otxarkoaga local association, does not agree with the point of view expressed in much of the media and by many individuals.
On 28th of April, it will be 30 years since the first kick: the kick to the door of the bishop’s medieval garage that nobody imagined would start such a long journey. Meetings, symbolic occupations, speeches, interventions in council meeting were the actions that carved out a path for the Gaztetxe and for squatting Gasteiz.
Artze was an important figure in the renaissance of Basque culture from the 1960's onwards, along with other members of the avant-garde Ez Dok Amairu movement, set up in the last years of the Spanish dictatorship. Born at Usurbil, Gipuzkoa, in 1939, he died at home on the 12th of January after an illness.