12.10.07 - democracy denied in the basque country

Members of Cork Sinn Fein and the Irish Basque Committees today held a vigil in Daunt Square to protest against the continued suppression of democracy in the Basque Country.

Last Thursday 23 members of the leadership of the Basque pro-independence party Batasuna were arrested by the Spanish police. During the raid, hooded Spanish police officers positioned themselves in the street in the small Gipuzkoan town where the Batasuna leadership were holding a meeting, and forced them into police vehicles as they were leaving the premises.

Batasuna has been banned by the Spanish authorities as part of its campaign to break the movement for independence in the Basque Country. This is in spite of the fact that Batasuna is committed to seeking a peace deal and a negotiated settlement in the Basque Country. The party has been involved in negotiations with the Spanish government and ETA has called a number of ceasefires.

The banning of Batasuna and the arrest of its leaders violate basic rights to freedom of speech and assembly. Far from facilitating a peace deal, they will only exacerbate conflict in the Basque Country. In the run-up to elections, the government is staging these arrests to prove to the Spanish public that it can be a ruthless in suppressing supporters of Basque independence as its right-wing rivals, the PP.

Such conduct has no place in a country that presents itself as a modern, European democracy. Make your voice heard in protest against the denial for democracy in the Basque Country by writing to: The Spanish Embassy, 17a Merlyn Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, or emailing embaspan@eircom.net.

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