Two days before the demonstration of October 3 in Donostia (attended by over 6.500 people) EH Bildu’s four spokespersons released an open letter to explain the reasons for the demonstration:

Our Decision, Peace

Open Letter by Hasier Arraiz, Pello Urizar, Rebeka Ubera and Oskar Matute

We who sign this article today work arm in arm with the same political coalition, but each of us has their own political journey and before this singular confluence was given, each one of these different political journeys has been for many years distant from the rest. And in that time we have rarely been capable of creating spaces for collaboration among our different political cultures. The main reason for our not encountering each other was that we didn’t agree with respect to many questions, some of them fundamental for each of us. The main reason that has changed our journeys and has made them join together in a specific historical moment has been our shared commitment with one of the most pressing desires of our people: the desire for peace.

We are not going to hide from anyone the harshness of past times: the political lack of communication, the lack of feeling for another’s pain, the hatreds that we allowed to grow in the heat of aggressions that one and the other felt. All of us have reasons to feel these emotions and to all it feels more than those facing us, whoever it may be. We are not going to deceive anyone, not even ourselves, saying that all of these feelings, all of these emotions, that this suffering, doesn’t exist any more. Because these types of wounds take a long time to heal completely and they reopen at the minimal unfortunate gesture, at the minimal inappropriate word. But if we have to talk about ourselves, we would say that these years of shared work in building peace in our country has been the best of our lives. We have been capable of reaching agreements among political cultures that in another time were not only distant but on occasion also confronting each other. We have been capable of taking steps together on a roadmap whose main points were the respect for the human rights of everyone, peace and democratic normalization. We have been capable of giving priority to the desires for peace of the Basque citizenry to the particular point of view of each one of the political traditions that we feel a part of. And although peace always comes late, we are convinced that the work we have done to build a scenario of a definitive peace for our people, it is too important to leave it without it being finished.

Since we sat to put black on what in what would be the Gernika Agreement, to the unilateral declaration of a ceasefire by ETA, from the International conference of Aiete to the decision by ETA to definitively abandon armed activity, from the Peace Forum of Bayonne to those of Pamplona and Bilbao, all the kilometres that we have travelled, some on the side of others in the streets of the towns and cities of the Basque Country in defence of the rights of Basque political prisoners, all of the acts where not a single victim has been missing in our memory, not a single suffering and all of the other acts of remembering and reparation of the victims, where always that they have given us an opportunity we have participated, although on occasions they preferred our absence and, of course, all the times in the rain or cold we have gone out into the streets to protect and promote even more this unilateral peace process so many times deprecated, repudiated and attacked by the Spanish authorities.

These, the main authorities of the Spanish state, never looked kindly on this Basque way to peace. They never liked the unilateralism, not even for achieving peace. From the first moment they dedicated themselves to put the skids under our steps and we don’t deny that they have been able to knock us down several times. Every time we have fallen, it has cost us, but we have gotten up again and our rage – yes, we continue feeling rage over every injustice – we haven’t let it transform into hate, but more in a longing for peace for this country and its people, who have already suffered too much. For that, looking back and detaining ourselves in the complications in the path covered, it doesn’t bother us to affirm that EH Bildu is currently one of the most active parts for peace in the Basque Country. And we want to continue to be so, if possible, together with other political and social forces of this country.

For that, we continue advancing on this long path to peace until the human rights of all Basque citizens, also of those who are dispersed in Spanish and French prisons hundreds of kilometres from their families, be respected. We will continue working until the last repressed person returns home. We will continue forcing ourselves so that all of the victims – without exclusions – be recognized and their pain is healed. We will continue with dialogue and agreement so that the memory is inclusive and tells all of that happened just as it happened. Peace is too important to reduce it to a story of victors and vanquished.

And of course, we are going to continue working, above all the obstacles and difficulties, to achieve the definitive end of this cycle of violence that we have suffered. We don’t want to leave to our children any of those situations that would never have wanted to live and yes, we will say that violence is always the worst path, even when one thinks that there is no other way, violence is always the worst path. We would like that the generations that follow us never inherit any of our wounds and that, in any case, they are capable of managing the pain better that what we have done.

And so we go, many times slower than what we would like, but always without leaving the path of peace and freedom for our country. Every effort is small so that our children don’t suffer all that we have suffered. For them. And also for ourselves, who also deserve a future in peace. Please, let’s learn from the mistakes of the past, but let’s not get chained to it. Let’s continue advancing because our people want it and they ask us to go forward.

From our humble experience, the shared effort is worth it. We invite you to continue advancing with us on the path to peace, this Saturday from the Church of The Good Shepherd in San Sebastian. Because peace is too important for anyone to stay home.