21 March 2012

Basque Info 6th-19th March

In this issue
 ETA calls on French Government to initiate dialogue
 Women take to the streets for their rights
 Amnesty International criticizes Spanish abuses against Basques
 Recognition for the northern Basque Country on the agenda
 MEP’s support conflict resolution

ETA calls on French Government to initiate dialogue

ETA recently sent a statement to the French news agency AFP. Four months have passed since ETA declared the definitive cessation of its armed activity and the call on the French Government to open up a direct dialogue about the consequences of the conflict. The organization wishes to make their reflections known to French society.

In the statement they remarked on the opportunity opened to solve the long conflict and to build a just and lasting peace. For that they believe that the French government has to assume its responsibilities and assume that the “Basque problem” is also their problem. They stated that the French state denies political recognition to the Basque provinces under its administration.

They also mentioned the implication of the dirty war against Basque militants and the French Government’s alliance with the Spanish state in the repressive strategy against the Basque resistance. The armed organization believes that in these new times this strategy is senseless and they call on the French Government to leave it aside and take steps towards the definitive resolution of the conflict.

They commented on the value of the Internation Declaration for conflict Resolution of Aiete, signed by well-know international personalities last October, as the roadmap for the solution. ETA responded in a positive way to that declaration, showing their willingness to establish direct dialogue with the French and Spanish states to deal with the consequences of the conflict.

ETA hope that the French state responds positively to this approach and as soon as possible begins a direct dialogue with ETA as a way to deal with the consequences of the conflict in territory under French administration. This is the path for achieving a true and lasting peace.

Finally ETA acknowledges and expresses gratitude to all those in the French state who have expressed their solidarity and support for the struggle in the Basque Country.

The French Government tried to play down the importance of this communiqué and repeated their intention to collaborate with the Spanish authorities, trying to make it seem as if it’s a Spanish problem only, without any French state responsibility in the conflict.

Women take to the streets for their rights

Thursday 8th March marked Internation Women’s Day and as with every year the Basque feminist movement organised demonstrations across the country. Thousands of people, mainly women, took to the streets of most towns to demand equality for women and to denounce the devastating effects of the capitalist crisis. They also remembered the 99 female Basque political prisoners.

AI critizices Spainish abuses against Basques

An Amnesty International delegation lead by its General Secretary Salil Shetty visited Spain last week and met with government officials, judiciary and the main political parties.

At the end of the series of meetings they spoke to the press. There Mr. Shetty denounced the serious abuses committed by the police forces in their fight against ETA, critizised the banning of Sortu (Basque Pro-Independence Left’s party), demanded the repatriation of Basque politial prisoners and asked for a more flexible approach and open mind to address the conflict resolution.

According to AI there is a new scenario open after ETA’s decision last October to end the armed campaign and therefore full advantage should be taken in order to promote human rights without leaving any space open to impunity for those carryin out abuses.

Mr Shetty said he was disappointed by the Spanish Government’s current position.

Recognition for the northern Basque Country on the agenda

Over recent weeks the need for Basque recognition in the form of some sort of local government institution has toppped the political agenda in the north of the Basque Country. First it was Sarkozy’s visit, then the protest blockade of main roads and now the Basque pro-independence left parties asked the regional council of elected representatives to continue with their work but stated that in the end it should be put to the people in referendum to decide about kind of institution they want.

The nationalist parties said that an assembly elected by the people and with wide powers should be put in place to organise the three Basque northern provinces under French administration. They also asked for official recognition of the Basque language, Euskara.

Despite the majority Basque support for recognition Paris has historically treated those demands with contempt.

MEPs support conflict resolution

At a press conference held last week in Brussels, 27 MEP’s showed their support for the conclusions of the International Conference for Conflict Resolution organised last October in the Aiete Palace of Donostia-San Sebastian. They asked that the European institutions take part in the process and announced initiatives for the near future.

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