• Posts 526
  • Pages 4
  • Categories 45
  • Comments 134
  • Words in Posts 665,397
  • Words in Pages 12,901
  • Words in Comments 12,619

Newsletter (in English)


Startbox-SEGIProtest against the persecution of the left-wing youth organization SEGI in the Basque Country

“Terrorism” is hard to define. Wikipedia tells us that it generally refers to violence for political aims. But when the US army bombs a Bagdad neighborhood, that is declared to be “the fight against terror”. When young people in Euskal Herria (the Basque Country) fight for democratic and social rights with mass demonstrations and public campaigns, they can be imprisoned for this “terrorist activity”.

Terrorists without weapons

This is precisely what is happening with the Basque left-wing youth organization SEGI. On January 19, 2007, Spain’s supreme court declared SEGI, an organization with thousands of young activists across the Basque Country, an “armed gang or a terrorist organization” and sentenced 23 members to six years in prison. Four of them were arrested immediately, while 18 others surrendered to the police on February 3 at a public protest meeting in Bilbo.

There is no evidence against SEGI. In a previous trial in early 2005, Spain’s Audiencia Nacional (special court for crimes involving drugs and terrorism) declared that SEGI was not a terrorist organization since they could not be connected to “firearms, bombs, grenades, explosive materials or similar things”.

They could not even be made responsible with kale borroka (street fighting of Basque youth against the police which takes place regularly). Nonetheless, SEGI was declared an “unauthorized organization” and 24 activists were sentenced to between 15 days and four years in prison – after they had spent four years in prison awaiting trial!

No new evidence has been introduced since the first trial. The supreme court has simply declared that sharing the general goals of the armed group ETA – independence for Euskal Herria and socialism – is equivalent to membership in a terrorist organization. By this definition, all supporters of the Basque pro-independence left (tens of thousands of people!) are terrorists. On this basis, in the last few years the Spanish state has prohibited the left party Batasuna and other left electoral lists, closed newspapers, shut down radio stations and arrested and tortured hundreds of people.

Repression in the EU

This is one of many examples of accusations of “terrorism” being used to repress the left in Europe. In Turkey, hundreds of members of the MLKP have been arrested in the last few months. Members of the Turkish DHKP-C are being persecuted all over Europe. The Communist Union of Youth of the Czech Republic was dissolved by the state simply because they called for the abolition of private ownership of the means of production. The increasing repression is part of the project to turn the EU into an economic and military superpower – all resistance to European capital is to be suffocated.

The majority of the European population, especially the youth, is suffering under the effects of cuts in social services and privatization. The situation in Euskal Herria is no exception. Basque students must struggle against increasing university fees like students in virtually all other countries. The Basque Country is among the most economically developed regions on the Iberian Peninsula, but more than 20% of young people are unemployed. Of those that do work, 95% have so-called “trash contracts” with no job security or decent pay. Even though hundreds of thousands of apartments are empty, just one in five young people under thirty live outside their parents’ home. SEGI has played an important role in the struggles of the Basque youth against this misery (for example defending occupied houses for young people), and for this reason they came into the sights of the state.

SEGI’s central demand is for self-determination for Euskal Herria. The Basques have never been given the opportunity to decide democratically if they wish to be part of Spain and France; quite the opposite: the Spanish constitution prescribes the “indivisible unity” of the Spanish state. Under Franco’s fascist regime, any expression of Basque identity was brutally repressed. In the first mass revolts of the 60s, an armed resistance group, ETA, was formed to destabilize the fascist state with military actions. During the so called “transition to democracy” in the 70s, all the fascist police, army officers and state officials (and many of the politicians) remained in their posts, while all the political prisoners remained in jail. Because the Spanish state refuses to recognize the Basques’ right of self-determination, the armed resistance has continued until this day. This armed resistance is generally counter-productive, because the bombings of the ETA drive the Spanish population away from the demands of the Basques for self-determination. But the majority of the Basque left fights with peaceful means to implement democratic rights.

The Basque youth movement has always played a decisive role in the resistance against oppression, drawing each new generation into a struggle against the post-Francoist system. SEGI (which means “continue” in the Basque language) is already the third youth organization to be banned: JARRAI (“forward”) and HAIKA (“stand up”) were banned earlier. As was shown again in the recent trial, the accusations about supposed connections to ETA were a fabrication to justify political repression.

The limits of nationalism

As communists, we support struggles for the right to self-determination of oppressed nations. However, we are critical of SEGI’s strategy of left or “revolutionary” nationalism, which consists in fighting for independence as a step towards socialism.

The current peace process aims to unite all layers of the Basque nation (including the capitalists) to secure democratic rights. But democratic rights can never be fully realized in the framework capitalism – the best evidence of this is the continuing oppression and torture in Euskal Herria, carried out by two highly developed capitalist (and “democratic”) states.

Private property of the means of production excludes full democratic rights for all those who don’t own the means of production. As long as a majority of the population is exploited as wage labourers, there will always be repression to maintain this exploitation and the rule of the capitalists.

The Spanish and French states have no interest an independent Euskal Herria, which would mean giving up a highly industrialized region. (For the French state it would mean giving up a tourist region.) At the same time, we as socialists have no interest in an independent, capitalist Euskal Herria. The dominance of financial capital in the Basque economy means that such a country would be an imperialist country, increasing its wealth by exploiting the Third World.

For this reason, we support the right to independence, but do not advocate independence. Our strategy is not to unite all Basques across class lines, but to unite all workers across borders. It goes without saying that such unity can only be based on a recognition of equal rights for all – Spanish and European workers must support the Basques’ right to self-determination.

Every struggle against oppression deserves support. But at the same time it must be clear that only a classless society will guarantee freedom from all forms of oppression. Our struggles must be strategically oriented towards the working class capturing political power across the world. Only a socialist republic in Europe, based on a free union of workers’ republics, will guarantee self-determination and equal rights for the Basques and other oppressed nations.

Stop the repression!

We from REVOLUTION have defended SEGI the rights of young people in Euskal Herria for a number years. We will continue to work together with them (for example at the European Social Forum), but also exercise comradely criticism.

  • Protest against the persecution of SEGI! For demonstrations in front of Spanish institutions around the world!
  • Freedom for all political prisoners! Accusations of “terrorism” can hit anyone who opposes the EU superpower.
  • Build a revolutionary youth international! The youth must united in the struggle against capitalism!
  • For a revolutionary international! Only with an international organization of the working class can we beat capitalism!
  • For a socialist Europe in a socialist world, which guarantees the right of self-determination!

iREVOLUTION Coordination, February 7, 2007

Leave a Reply