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Protests Across Ireland And Basque Country At Spanish Police Arrests Of 35 Basque Youth Activists
rights, freedoms and repression |
Wednesday December 02, 2009 04:22 by Basque Info - Irish Basque Solidarity Committees
PROTESTS ACROSS IRELAND AT SPANISH POLICE ARRESTS OF 35 BASQUE YOUTH ACTIVISTS AS OVER 20,000 PROTEST IN BILBAO
Protests were held in Belfast, Dublin, Limerick, Omagh, Strabane and in Dungannon in solidarity with the Basque pro-Independence Left movement and in protest at a massive Spanish police repressive operation involving 650 police, raids on over 60 premises and the arrest of 34 Basque youth as a result of their political activities. The Basque Country itself saw a number of school strikes and other protests during the week, including one of 20,430 in Bilbao, the capital, on Saturday. Further protests are being organised. Thirty-one of the youth were sent to prison, bringing the total of Basque political prisoners to 762, the highest in 35 years.
PROTESTS IN DUBLIN, BELFAST AND ELSEWHERE IN IRELAND
Around 40 people gathered on a cold but dry O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main street, last Saturday with placards and Basque flags. The were there in solidarity with the Basque pro-Independence Left movement and protesting the previous Tuesday’s arrests by Spanish police of 35 Basque youth activists and raids on over 60 premises. The operation, in which 650 Spanish police took part, was interpreted by spokespersons of the Basque movement as a response by the Spanish state to the movement’s recent renunciation of armed struggle and their decision to fight the Spanish state on the political front only, where they felt the state was at its weakest.
The Dublin protest had been organised by the local branch of the Irish Basque Solidarity Committees and drew broad active support from the progressive political spectrum, including from both Ógra Shinn Féin and from Éirigí, as well as from independent activists. Some of the Basque community in Ireland attended, as did some originally from Madrid and elsewhere in Castille.
Standing on the central pedestrian reservation of O’Connell Street in two lines facing both traffic directions, the demonstrators received numerous expressions of support from passers-by, including motorists who sounded their horns and some Catalans who stated they came to express “solidarity with their Basque brothers and sisters”.
In addition to the Basque flags and the banner of the Dublin Committee, the protesters carried placards, some of which read: ”FREE THE 35!”, “FRANCO LIVES ON IN THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT!” and “NO TIME FOR LOVE IN THE BASQUE COUNTRY – end repression!” The latter was a reference to the former Irish band Moving Heart’s song No Time for Love if They Come in the Morning, about morning raids by the police in repressive states. When the demonstrators began to walk around in a big circle, they also chanted slogans against repression in the Basque Country, for the freedom of the 35 arrested youth and for democracy and freedom in the Basque Country.
As the protest drew to a close, the Coordinator of the DIBC thanked all present for their attendance and solidarity with the Basques, pointing out that the Basque pro-Independence Left movement was also known for their active internationalist solidarity, e.g. for the Irish, Palestinians, Guatemalan trade unionists and Saharan independists. A member of the Basque community in Ireland also thanked those present for their support and a group of Basques sang the Eusko Gudari song (“Soldiers of the Basque Country”) including the traditional shrill Irrintza (yell). The protest concluded with shouting in Euskara (the Basque Language) of “Ahieslari!” (The Arrested) to which all the participants replied with “AS-KAT-U!” (FREE!).
As the solidarity protest in Dublin concluded, people were gathering for the start of a white-line picket on the Falls Road in Belfast. This too had been organised by the local branch of the Irish Basque Solidarity Committees and also drew broad support. The attendance of around 60 people included the Belfast Deputy Mayor, two Councillors and two MLAs (SF).
Elsewhere in Ireland, protests were organised by Ógra Shinn Féin in Limerick, Omagh, Strabane and in Dungannon. The latter protest was attacked by fascist-Loyalist youth; when the Police Service of Northern Ireland appeared on the scene they proceeded to harass the Republican youth, searching one of them under anti-terrorist legislation, while they were seen to chat amiably with the youth who had carried out the attack.
OVER 20,000 MARCH IN BILBAO AND PROTESTS ALSO ACROSS THE BASQUE COUNTRY
Dozens of towns across the Basque Country saw protests and school strikes
during the week and on Saturday 20,430 people marched in Bilbao under the slogan: “ALL (POLITICAL) PROJECTS, ALL RIGHTS!”
As the 35 Basque youths began to get access to independent solicitors, reports of torture and sexual mistreatment began to emerge. Thirty-one out of the 35 youths were sent to prison as their interrogations came to an end, bringing the total of Basque political prisoners to 762, the highest in 35 years.
Hundreds of young people also gathered over the weekend in Zestoa at the national youth event which aims to join forces from all sections of the Basque youth movement to build a new front to jointly confront the capitalist system and help to develop the democratic process in the Basque Country.
In a separate development, Judge Garzon of the special no-jury Audiencia court indicted 43 alleged members of the political party Batasuna, most of whom are already being held in jail, for “membership of a terrorist organisation.”
Protests against Spanish state repression in the Basque Country have been called for the coming Saturday in Cork and in Derry, the first by the Basque Solidarity Committee and the second by the city’s Sinn Féin.