25 March-1 April

The cruel penitentiary policy causes the death of a Basque political prisoner.
ETA regarding the situation of the process.
Conference in the European Parliament.
Thousands of people demand independence for the Basque Country.

The cruel penitentiary policy causes the death of a Basque political prisoner

Xabier López Peña, a Basque political prisoner died last Saturday in a hospital in Paris

After spending more than two weeks in a hospital, the Basque political prisoner Xabier López Peña, incarcerated in the French prison of Fleury, died last Saturday in a hospital in Paris.

López Peña was diagnosed with heart disease in 2009, although in all these years he hardly received any treatment for the illness. The political prisoner was transferred from the prison in Fleury to the Corbeill-Essone hospital this past March 11th to receive treatment. Two days later, after suffering complications, he was transferred to the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris where he remained hospitalized for two weeks, and where after his situation worsened due to a brain stroke, the prisoner Xabier López Peña died early Saturday morning, although his family members weren’t notified until twelve hours later.

With the death of Xabier López Peña there are now 16 Basque political prisoners who have died in prison. This new death of a political prisoner manifests the pressing need to put an end to the prison strategy of Madrid and Paris.

The reactions to this death in the Basque Country were immediate. From Itsasu, Abertzaleen Batasuna, Aralar, Alternatiba, EA and Sortu made a combined evaluation. They wanted to send solidarity and condolences to the family and friends of the Basque prisoner and to the whole of the Basque political prisoners’ collective and their families in these hard moments.

They pointed out that these are the negative consequences that prolong the conflict. They denounced the penitentiary policy of the Spanish and French states which does nothing but lengthen the suffering and provoke deaths and they demanded that it be ended. It is time to put an end to this criminal penitentiary policy. All of the ill prisoners and those who have completed their sentence must be released.

They demanded that the prisoners be brought to the Basque Country as a first step for letting all of them go free. The political conflict will not end while there is even one political prisoner still in prison.

Finally, they especially called on the French government to stop following the strategy of the Spanish government and to implicate itself in the resolution process.

Members of Etxerat, Herrira, Jaiki Hadi and the lawyer Yolanda Molina denounced in Bayonne in an emotional press conference the situation in which the Basque political prisoner López Peña lived and the “inhuman” treatment that his family received in the past weeks.

This death could have been avoided. The penitentiary policy of the Spanish and French states has to change now. The measures of exception that are applied to Basque political prisoners are the causes of this death and they must end now. That is what the social majority of our society demands. And it is also demanded by important international voices such as the signers of the manifesto “On the Path to Peace, Respect Prisoners’ Rights”.

ETA regarding the situation of the process

A communiqué from ETA in which they make certain clarifications about the current situation of the process

In an extensive communiqué the ETA organization made a reading of the latest events surrounding the resolution process and a possible way of negotiation about the consequences of the conflict.

In the communiqué the organization affirms that they are complying with the commitments adopted in the roadmap towards the resolution. In spite of the attitude that the different Spanish governments are maintaining, ETA reaffirms in its commitments and manifests that it is ready to continue taking steps in the resolution process and it says that it has made multiple efforts to promote dialogue and to advance in the peace process.

The organization announced that due to the negative and obstructive attitude of the Spanish and French governments, the framework of dialogue and negotiation about the consequences about the conflict are broken. This is considered a clear step backwards in that it delays and makes difficult the resolution of the conflict.

ETA also made a call for reflection from all the parts so that they can contribute to overcoming the current situation of blockage. They consider positive all of the contributions that can come from the Basque Country as well as the international community to promote a process of resolution.

Finally, the organization affirms that it will continue working towards a definitive solution.

Conference in the European Parliament

Under the title “Prisoners, a key to Peace?” a conference took place about the Basque Country in the European Parliament

Last Wednesday the 27th, an act was celebrated in the European Parliament to speak about the role of political prisoners in the processes of resolution of conflicts and the possible similarities or applications in the Basque conflict. For that they invited people with experience in other conflicts.

The conference was organized by Basque Friendship and the Greens – European Free Alliance group. Among the speakers were Nelly Maes, president of the Flemish Institute for Peace; Robert McBride, a former political prisoner from South Africa; Avila Killmurray, a member of the Community Foundation of Ireland; and Gabi Mouesca, an ex prisoner and former director of the International Observatory of Prisons.

All of them pointed out the crucial role that political prisoners can play in these types of processes. Robert McBride from his experience in the South African process stated that “in the case of political prisoners, as soon as their situation is dealt with, the better”. “The delaying manoeuvres only slow down the peace processes”, he adverted.

There was also an appeal made for the implication of European institutions. Nelly Maes, a former European MP, president of the Flemish Institute for Peace and one of the signers of the manifesto “On the Path to Peace, Respect Prisoners’ Rights”, recalled that “in the European Parliament they have voted on a countless number of resolutions about questions in the whole world, and it is completely false that we shouldn’t involve ourselves in internal questions.” As a conclusion to her intervention she asked “What can European instances do? What can we do in favour of the Basque peace process?”

Thousands of people demand independence for the Basque Country

With the motive of the Aberri Eguna (Day of the Basque Homeland), thousands of people demonstrated in the streets of Iruñea in demand for independence

Responding to the call from the citizens’ network “independentistak”, thousands of Basques came to Iruñea to celebrate the day of the Basque Homeland (Aberri Eguna). There they demanded independence as the best option for assuring the economic future and welfare for the country. Many of the demonstrators carried “ikurriñas” (Basque flags), the majority of them with a black band, recalling the death the day before of the Basque political prisoner Xabier López Peña. During the course of the march there were many shouts in favour of independence, a slogan that could also be read on the banner that opened the march.

In the final act the organizers remarked that independence is the best option to solve daily problems and to confront the crisis. The representative of Independentistak who spoke in the act affirmed that we know that it is much more viable to construct an advanced democracy in a Basque state and not inside of Spain or France.

For the members of SORTU, many took part in this demonstration; independence is an indispensable tool for confronting the situation of national, economic and democratic emergency that our people are living.

SORTU understands independence as a result of a democratic exercise. The decision belongs to the people. It also belongs to the Basque people to be the owners of their own destiny and to decide their future freely and democratically.