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Newsletter (in English)


Forty-two Basque youth will be on trial in Madrid sometime in February or March. They are activists of the prohibited youth organization SEGI, or of the previously prohibited youth organizations JARRAI and HAIKA, and accused of being terrorists. They are faced with a total of 654 years in prison.

The prosecutor is asking for 10 years for ten of the accused and 14 years for thirty-one. For Asier Tapia he is asking for a sentence of 111 years and ten months! This young man from Donostia (San Sebastian) organized a press conference after the first round of arrests in which he read a communiqué denouncing the operation and calling for mobilizations. The prosecutor is accusing him of proposing “violent actions” and blaming him for all of the disturbances that followed, in total 22 incidents of “kale borroka” (youthful street riots typical in the Basque Country).

Why is the trial taking place now? Because fifteen of the accused, arrested as part of the repression against the earlier youth organization JARTAI, have been in prison since 2001. Spanish law prohibits this kind of imprisonment without trial for more than four years, a deadline which will arrive in mid-March.


This is the latest legal attack on the ezkerra abertzale (Basque Nationalist Left). In the last five years the Spanish state has prohibited political parties, newspapers, radio stations, cultural associations, language schools; it has thrown hundreds in jail, driven thousands into exile, seized assets worth millions of euros. Their only crime has been to demand self-determination for the Basque Country, that the Basques should be allowed to decide their future in a referendum. For this they are accused of supporting or being part of the armed group ETA, and treated as terrorists.

Basque prisoners are subject to torture in Spanish jails. The law allows prisoners suspected of terrorism to be held up to five days “incommunicado”, with no contact to the outside world, not even with a lawyer. In these circumstances beatings, electric shocks, suffocation with plastic bags, threats of rape and other forms of psychological torture are common. The number of incidents reported, including cases of attempted suicide by prisoners, has led even the United Nations to recognize that the Spanish government is violating the conditions it agreed to in the Convention against Torture.

Currently there are over 700 Basque political prisoners in Spanish jails. Through the policy of “dispersal” they are held far away from their home – sometimes as far as the Canary Islands! – so their relatives have to travel thousands of kilometers to visit them. The level of repression has not changed since the departure of the post-fascist Aznar and the arrival of the “socialist” government of Zapatero. His government made quick work of prohibiting left-nationalist electoral lists in the European Elections in June 2004 and continuing persecution of leftist Basques.


The Spanish legal system, notably the authoritarian judge Baltasar Garzón, justify the repression against the Basque youth organizations with various arguments: either that SEGI and company are a component part of ETA, with common finances and organizational structures (for which there exists not the slightest evidence); or at least that they represent a mass front of ETA through which young people are recruited to the armed group.

While it is true that some captured members of ETA had been previously active in JARRAI, this cannot be used to criminalize an organization of thousands. This argument, if applied consistently, could be used to ban the Spanish army and federal police Guardia Civil, as it has been established that their members were active in the ultra-right terrorist group GAL in the 1980s! But not one single government official has been punished for the horrible crimes, for the thousands of executions under Franco’s fascist dictatorship and during the masquerade transition to “democracy”. The accusation of “terrorism”, as usual, doesn’t apply to state forces.

The reality is that SEGI is a mass organization in the Basque Country with tens of thousands of activists, which operates openly despite the state ban. Their goals are independence and socialism, and they campaign for the rights of young people, against the precarious employment which affects up to half of the young people in the Spanish state, against drug addiction, in defense of womens’ rights and occupied houses, for Basque language and culture, etc. The repression is a result of the fact that they represent a mass force of young people dedicated to resisting the neoliberal agenda of successive Spanish governments. For this they called “terrorist”, an almost meaningless label used to criminalize fighters against neoliberalism all over the world in George Bush’s “global war on terror”.


We demand the immediate release of the forty-two young activists from SEGI and of all Basque political prisoners! We demand a cease to the repression in the Basque Country! We support the basic right of self-determination, a right which is systematically denied in Spain: the Basques must be allowed to decide if they want to be part of Spain in a referendum!

We call on all youth organizations, whether they agree with SEGI’s programme or not, to support this declaration and defend the basic rights of young activists in the Basque Country: the right to organize and to fight for one’s interests. The Spanish state’s repression can affect anyone: for example the Barcelona squatter Juan Ramón Rodríquez Fernández (Juanra), who was extradited from Holland and sentenced to five years in prison, supposedly for having contact to ETA.

As one of the accused, Ibon Meñika, said, “we are not the only ones on trial, they are trying to prosecute the trajectory of a youth organization.”

It is necessary to organize protests internationally, similar to the day of action for youth in the Basque Country on Janunary 14, which included school student strikes and a 1,000-strong demonstration in Bilbao. Protests in front of Spanish embassies across the world must be organized to expose the profoundly repressive nature of this trial.

At the same time we call on the ezkerra abertzale (Basque nationalist left) to recognize that there is no solution to the conflict in the Basque Country within the confines of capitalism. The Spanish State will never give up the industry of the Basque Country, and the Basque bankers and businessmen are too happy to work with them in exchange for protection against their workers. The only solution lies in a common struggle of workers, youth, and the oppressed of all nationalities within the Spanish state, of all countries against global capitalism. A truly free Basque Country can only take the form of a Socialist Republic as part of the United Socialist States of Europe.

To lead this struggle, not a national but an international organization is necessary. Forward to a revolutionary youth international!

WORLD REVOLUTION International Coordination Committee

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