Sinn Fein in NUI Galway recently participated in a Basque Youth International campaign to raise awareness of the persecution of young pro-independence activists in the Basque Country as well as highlighting the issue of Basque Independence and the significant steps forward that have been taken recently in that direction. The following is a piece from a Basque Youth activist who is currently based in Galway City:
Many people have been imprisoned since the fight for political and civil rights began in the Basque Country, and it has been especially harsh on youth. This particular case began in 2008, when police forces tried to arrest 22 members of the illegalized organization Jarrai-Haika-Segi. In order to make other people know what happened exactly, they have opened up a web page where you can find information on which activities are being held such as protests, demonstrations or related news, pictures of people showing their support, videos, interviews and a song composed by a local band to the cause. There is a section dedicated to the torture cases suffered by some of those arrested. The trial, held this summer, got very emotional as many defendants recognized the voice of their torturers from the policemen who testified. There is also a manifesto explaining the whole situation and the movement young people have been developing to protest against this situation:
It has been more than a year since the Nationalist Left has pledged its commitment to the democratic process in order to find a solution to the political struggle that we live in within the Basque Country. We have stopped the blocked situation that we have lived under these past years and have taken strong steps forward.
All this has made the French and the Spanish states, which oppress our nation violently, nervous, as they know that the youth is the engine to change a country. That is why these States have started a violent offensive against us. Intimidating a youth movement that is working for a free and more just country, they have tried to deactivate what would be the future of the Basque Country, the youth.
Since January 2007, when they recognized Jarrai-Haika-Segi as a terrorist group, 223 young people have been arrested and 141 imprisoned. They have also targeted our region among them, Oarsoaldea. On April 2008 they tried to arrest 22 young people getting in violently into houses in Oiartzun, Orereta and Lezo. Even if some of them managed to escape from the raid, others unfortunately suffered solitary confinement and torture for five days. It is impossible to forget the macro-raids held against young people since then.
Despite the attacks, we reaffirm our support for the democratic process that is being carried out in the Basque Country. Despite the obstacles, we are not ready to silence our political activity. We will keep on changing the future of our country, as we are building the Basque Socialist State we dream by fighting every day. But to get that purpose, we demand the abolition of solitary confinement that allows abuses and torture, and the disappearance of black lists too. It is essential to achieve some minimums in order to guarantee the rights and freedom for political activity of the youth.
The dynamic Gazte1+Ez! (Not a single young person more!) comes to the demand of these minimums. We will not allow any other prosecution against another young person. That is why we totally support the sit-in which are being held in Donostia.
Up the Basque Youth!
The last sentence refers to a sit-in that was carried out in December for the civil and political rights of Basque prisoners. The sentence for the young people of Oarsoaldea got out in January, and 6 of the arrested have to face a sentence of 6 years each. The others have been absolved, even if most of them have already been in prison.
Chair of the D'Arcy-Mellows Sinn Fein Cumann in OE Gaillimh, Luke Callinan, stated that 'Sinn Fein and Oige Phoblachtach will continue to support the independence of small nations such as the Basque Country through both our actions and words. By participating in this worthwhile campaign we re-iterate our staunch opposition to repressive measures taken by both the French and Spanish states in an aim to effectively stamp out peaceful and democratic youth activism in Euskal Herria against their imperial powers.’
Some more information on the Gazte1+Ez! campaign can be found at the following links:
- The web page (completely in Basque): http://oarsongazte1ez.blogspot.com/
- A photo sent by Oige Phoblachtach in Galway: http://oarsongazte1ez.blogspot.com/2012/02/irlandatik-elkartasuna.html