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.
Helped by good weather, many people took part in the demonstrations held in Bilbao and Baiona on January 12th. With the slogan Orain Presoak ('The Prisoners Now'), around 76,000 people marched in Bilbao, and 9,000 more in Baiona. In 2016 there were two large demonstrations, and this year more people than then have taken part.
The two demonstrations set off at the same time, just before 17:30. They demanded that Basque prisoners' rights be respected, and the policy of imprisoning them at the greatest possible distance be cancelled. At the Bilbao demonstration, however, there were some differences compared with previous years: last June Pedro Sanchez (PSOE – 'Spanish Socialists') became prime minister and spoke in favour of changing prison policies. However, that spark of hope had led to nothing, with very few prisoners being moved closer to home. So on Saturday there were calls for promises to be kept and steps to be taken.
Joseba Azkarraga –spokesperson for Sare Herritarra (‘The People’s Network’) prisoners' rights movement– asked the Spanish Government to "listen… It should not forget that there is a large part of society here which has its opinions and which only wants the fight which has gone on for decades to be sorted out." Former prisoner Sara Majarenas said that it was time for the prisoners' situation to be sorted out.
On the same day there was a demonstration held at 20:00 at Bilbao's Etxebarrieta Anaien square called by the Pro Amnesty and Anti Represssion movement.
Many Politicians in Baiona
Around 9.000 people came together in Baiona to demand the French government take steps. 65% of northern Basque Country mayors supported the demonstration. The French State declared in January, 2018 that it would change its prison policy, ending the policy of sending prisoners as far from each other as policy. However, Jean-René Etchegaray – the head of the Basque Committee – stated that the process had been "held up".
At the same time, socialist Nicole Belloubet and right-wing senator Max Brisson agreed that there were "obstacles" towards solving the Basque prisoners' situation. Brisson said that: "There are obstacles ahead; we have to innovate and become more insistent in order to solve the Basque prisoners' problem."
Sare Herritarra spoke on the day after the demonstrations. "Thousands and thousands of citizens have said that they are not prepared to carry on having rights trampled on in their name", said Arantza Aldezabal and Joseba Azkarraga. And they stated that they had asked for a meeting with Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the Spanish interior minister. They want to ask him if the Spanish Government intends to carry on applying emergency measures to Basque prisoners.
Last year northern Basque Country representatives were in contact with the French government when it stated its intention to change its prison policy. Which is why Sare sees the "need" to have a meeting with the Spanish Government. They want to make use of the northern Basque Country representatives' experience and, to that end, have announced that they will hold a meeting with them: "We are sure that we will come across new ways of working".
Sare Herritarra believes that last Saturday's experience was "very positive", seeing how thousands of people in the northern and southern Basque Country took part. As Aldezabal put it, a wide-reaching part of Basque society took part and made a clear request: "Let the governments not continue to prolong the suffering by not changing its impractical, senseless prison policy".
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The workers have decided to go on strike until they get acceptable working conditions and regular contracts, and a sector-wide agreement is reached.
Klika (‘Click’) is the slogan which has been chosen for this year's Korrika ('Run'), which is the 21st time it will be held. From April 4th to 14th it will go all around the Basque Country, starting at Gares and finishing at Gasteiz. The pro-Basque language run will pay tribute to Jose Luis "Txillardegi" Alvarez Enparantza for his contribution to Basque culture, activism and thought.
The event will take place on May 5th, and the intention is to show solidarity which is often hidden from view. A symbolic gesture will be used to that end: the embrace.
The Strasbourg Human Rights Court has punished Spain for not giving Arnaldo Otegi a fair trial. As a result of the unfair trial the Basque Left leader spent six and a half years in a Spanish prison, as did a further four people on trial in the Bateragune (´Place for Coming Together') case.
The trial on the murder of Iñigo Cabacas has started in Bilbao, atthe third Court of Bizkaia. Six Basque policemen will be judged for being in charge of giving orders or for having admitted firing rubber bullets on the day of the murder. Other Basque policemen also shot rubber bullerts, but their identity has just to be disclosed at the trial.
On 6th October thousands of people took to the streets of Gasteiz (Araba, Basque Country) for Okupatu Gasteiz Eguna (Gasteiz Squatters' Day). Their aim was to congratulate the city's squatter movements and self-managed projects and, in spite of the city council's censorship, proclaim that the streets belongs to everybody. The day started with a colourful demonstration, but that was followed by a festive spirit which lasted until the early hours of the next day.