Last Friday 16th December, a newly created twitter account denounced that a Police raid was taking place in the Basque town of Luhuso, where French Police had arrested 5 people. The account denounced that Civil Society would have started a process to destroy ETA’s weaponry and a police raid would be on place to avoid it, the account posted several photos showing different tools that would have been used to put beyond use ETA’s weapons.

Despite the announcement by the Spanish interior Ministry of the seizure of numerous weapons and the arrest of “ETA’s legal members” (individuals who wouldn’t be underground members of ETA), the arrested turned out to be well-known individuals, Txetx Etcheverry (founder of Bizi, Alternatiba and ANV-COP21), Michel Berhocoirigoin (Former President and Founder of the Chamber of Basque agriculture Euskal Herriko Laborantza Ganbara), Michel Bergouignan (member of the Irulegi, Basque wine demarcation cooperative), Béatrice Haran-Molle (journalist) eta Stéphane Etchegaray “Etxe” (an audiovisual profesional, who would have recorded the weapons’ destruction).

After the raid several Basque media received a letter undersigned by Txetx Etcheverry, Michel Berhocoirigoin and Michel Tubiana, Honorary President of the Human Rights League, Ligue des droits de l’Homme, whom hadn’t been arrested. The letter, which you will find below, explained the reasons and objectives of their initiative and had enclosed a number of letters sent to and by ETA on which they had agreed to “transfer to civil society the political responsibility for the destruction of all the weapons from its military arsenal”

The arrests have been responded by the Permanent Social Forum, by elected representatives of the whole political spectrum and organisations as the Ligue des droits de l’Homme or Greenpeace. A demonstration took place in Baiona on Saturday 17th under the slogan, Release the peace-craftmen! (Libération immédiate des Artisans de la Paix) and an endorsement campaign was launched at: http://artisansdelapaix.wesign.it

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Letter to the media:

Civil society has taken its responsibilities and has triggered the dismantling of ETA’s military arsenal:

Police Operation aimed at hampering this initiative !

We, the members of civil society, having no connection or subordination with ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna- Basque Homeland and Freedom), have decided to trigger the process of disarmament of the armed organisation, and to destroy a first stock of weapons (1).

We call on civil society and all the elected officials to immediately and massively gather, in a peaceful manner, to support the need for a coordinated and controlled disarmament.
Everyone has to take his own responsibility for this peace process to be successful and go to the end. The responsibility for a fair and sustainable peace lays in the hands of each of us.

  • Because we want to contribute to a democratic future with no violence for the Basque country;
  • Because we believe that this disarmament is a key condition towards a final resolution of this conflict which will ensure that: – there is no possible return to violence; – all the victims are taken into account which includes reparations for them as part of global process on the model of “truth and reconciliation”; -and the liberation of all the prisoners related with the Basque conflict;
  • Because these different steps – indivisibles shares of the overall process-, cannot be achieved without an active participation of States, from the very start of the disarmament phase;
  • Because we need to sort out this absurd situation, where the armed Basque organisation wants to surrender its weapons to a State which refuses to allow it;
  • Because 5 years after the Aiete Peace Conference, and the cessation of the armed conflict, this lack of significant progress  can generate multiple consequences that we cannot even imagine, we have asked ETA to transfer to civil society the political responsibility for the destruction of all the weapons from its military arsenal, and we have decided to initiate this destruction.

(1) the first stock is equivalent to around 15% of the arsenal which has been sealed.

Michel Tubiana, Honorary chairmain, The Human Rights League
Michel Berhocoirigoin
Jean Noël Etcheverry (Txetx)

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Photos uploaded to twitter