Emakumeak borrokan

'Egunkaria' and Sedition: Spain closed down the Basque-language newspaper 15 years ago

  • On the morning of 20th February, 2003, I picked up the phone and heard Joxemari Irazusta's voice: "The Civil Guard have arrested Pello Zubiria." Pello? Joxemari told me the little he knew about it, and I couldn't believe it. I got back into bed; I couldn't digest the news. After turning around for a couple of minutes I got up again and set off for Lasarte (Gipuzkoa), the place where we edit ARGIA.

Xabier Letona @xletona
2018ko otsailaren 23a
The Civil Guard closed \'Egunkaria\' newspaper in 2003

A few other people had been arrested, and I heard their names on the radio: Iñaki Uria, Martxelo Otamendi, Luis Goia, Txema Auzmendi… they were among those who had been arrested. “That's it, then: it's connected with Euskaldunon Egunkaria.” Egunkaria has been founded in 1990, supported by ARGIA amongst others.

When I got to Lasarte I found that the Civil Guard (Spain's special armed forces) were in our offices, and they had already taken Pello's computer  and mine (I was the editor at the time); they had also taken thousands of printed photographs, CDs and other types of documents. Later on they also arrested Inma Gomila, our workmate and the former manager of Egunkaria.

'Egunkaria' has been founded and in 1990, supported by ARGIA amongst others. The first issue has been printed in Lasarte, Gipuzkoa. (Photo: Uztarria).

They closed down the only newspaper published in Basque, trampled on the right to a free press, arrested 18 people, of whom some they tortured, sent them to prison, made 150 people unemployed, forced people to spend a fortune on legal costs… and seven years later everybody was absolved: The Spanish National Court found out that Egunkaria had not been at ETA's command.

The official reaction to the whole operation was no joke, it was no mere sign of an authoritarian state but, rather, evidence of an entire legal system. The vast majority of Basques, however, saw things in a different way: the state had attacked Basque culture in a clear and savage manner.

No excuses have been offered, no reparations have been made, no damages paid… the state's impunity is all that has remained. Why does the state which destroyed it all not have to build it all again? The only thing that can be built on top of such humiliation is imposition. A whole people's response and the image of solidarity remain on the other side of memory, along with the strength to rebuild the project of publishing in Basque.

 Huge demonstration in support of 'Egunkaria' in Donostia, Basque Country (photo: ARGIA)

Last week I was struck by the explanation which Imanol Olabarria gave in ARGIA of the events in Gasteiz on 3rd March, 1976, which the Franco police killed five workers and wounded hundreds. Being held under arrest in Madrid, he asked his lawyer what the charges were; the answer was "Sedition, in other words, working against the security of the state".

Defending workers' rights on the streets of Gasteiz is attacking the state. For current Spanish judges, Josep Lluis Trapero, the head of the Catalonian police, not to send agents out to beat people up was also sedition. The Spanish security forces complied with Spanish law by hitting citizens. Organising a referendum, too, is a serious crime of rebellion, just as publishing a newspaper in Basque was terrorism.

Looking at Spain, I see something hard and terrible when the 15th anniversary of the closure of Egunkaria is mixed up with current events: in line with the fascist rising of 1936, Spain is clearly going backwards. Looking at our land, a reflection connected with the closure of a Basque-language medium comes to mind: Basque media are in the strongest position they have ever been in. And that, in itself, is a lot.


This article was translated by 11itzulpen; you can see the original in Basque here.

ARGIAn egiten dugun kazetaritza independenteak bultzada merezi duela uste duzu?

Informazio askea lantzen dugu ARGIAn, langileok gara proiektuaren jabeak eta gure informazioen atzean ez duzu sekula multinazionalik, bankurik edo alderdi politikorik topatuko. Gure ustez, burujabetza guztien oinarrian dago informazio burujabetza, ezagutzen dugunaren gainean pentsatzen eta erabakitzen dugu. Horregatik diogu kazetaritza independentea dela demokraziaren oinarrietako bat.

Aldizkaria paperean etxean edo e-postan PDFan jaso nahi duzu? Pozik hartuko zaitugu ARGIAko komunitatean. ARGIAkoa izateko, nahi eta ahal duzun ekarpena egin dezakezu, eta bueltan egoki ikusten duzuna eskatu. Indartu dezagun indartzen gaituena!

Kanal hauetan artxibatua: English  |  Egunkaria auzia  |  ARGIA  |  Guardia Zibila

English kanaletik interesatuko zaizu...
2019-04-05 | ARGIA
Ecologist Gladys Del Estal's murder: an award for punishment?

In 1979 a Civil Guard killed Basque ecologist Gladys Del Estal at an anti-nuclear festival. The agent was sentenced to prison for 18 months, but shortly afterwards he was awarded a medal, and he has still to serve the sentence. Del Estal has become a symbol for environmentalism, and her death an example of impunity.

Errigora: Navarrese asparagus to promote Basque

Errigora has started its annual campaign in favour of producing food and consuming it in the Basque Country under the slogan "Five years feeding what we love". Five years have gone by since they started the initiative. They use part of the profits which they make from selling local products in the south of Navarre (Basque Country) to promote Basque.

2019-03-06 | ARGIA
Pilota champion Bixintxo Bilbao was sanctioned for waving the Basque flag

The news spread around the Basque pilota world like gunpowder: “Bixintxo Bilbao has been punished for bringing out the ikurrina (the Basque flag) on the podium”. He was the world champion pilota player in 2018 along with partner Peio Larralde.

2019-02-27 | ARGIA
Fined for Graffiti against Romantic Love

Accused of painting graffiti against romantic love on the evening before February 14th in Donostia (Basque Country), three young people have been punished under the Gag Law.  As well as complaining about how they were treated by the police, they have told Basque magazine ARGIA that they are not going to pay the fine. “The Gag Law, the police's attitude and other things which are happening are unacceptable. Which is why these people are going to refuse to pay the fine as an act of... [+]

2019-01-23 | ARGIA
Thousands of people have taken back a social centre in Iru˝ea

Over recent weeks a public building in Nabarreria Street in Iruñea (Navarre, Basque Country) has become identified with social struggle. Maravillas gaztetxe or youth centre –a self-managed Basque community centre– It has been closed several times by the Government of Navarre and reoccupied by citizens.

Thousands of people come together in Bilbao and Baiona to defend Basque prisoners' rights

On Saturday around 85,000 people took part in the demonstrations in Bilbao (Bizkaia, Basque Country) and Baiona (Lapurdi, Basque Country). In defence of Basque prisoners' rights, they demanded the French and Spanish governments keep their word.

2019-01-10 | ARGIA
Huerta de Peralta: Orchard workers on indefinite strike gaining support

The workers at Huerta de Peralta in Azkoien, Navarre, are on indefinite strike since the 26th December in order to defend their rights and demand that the company reinstate the four workers it has sacked. They held a multitudinous demonstration in Iruñea on 7th January, and many citizens supported the workers.

2018-12-17 | ARGIA
Bilbao Medical Science Academy against fumigating pine trees

This Basque Autonomous Community association has asked the authorities not to fumigate pine trees affected by harmful fungi using copper oxide because that would be harmful to public health and the environment.

2018-12-06 | ARGIA
ARGIA, the oldest Basque publication, has digitalised its 100-year old legacy

ARGIA is the senior Basque publication, and it now has its 100th anniversary. Members of ARGIA, along with representatives from the Basque Government, have presented the acts which will be held to celebrate the anniversary. "A century is no ordinary anniversary, and our team has been preparing appropriate celebrations for a long time now", they explained.

2018-11-25 | ARGIA
Bilbao NH and Barcelˇ hotel cleaners' strike

The workers have decided to go on strike until they get acceptable working conditions and regular contracts, and a sector-wide agreement is reached.

Eguneraketa berriak daude