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Date: Sat, 25 Oct 97 11:15:31 CDT
From: "Workers World" <>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: WW interviews Basque activists
Via Workers World News Service

Basque Protest

By Monica Somocurcio, Workers World, 30 October 1997

On Oct. 12, thousands of Basque people held a massive rally to demand their independence and to support 23 Basque nationalist leaders due to be tried by the Spanish government for their pro-independence activities.

The 23 Herri Batasuna leaders, joined by families of political prisoners, held the lead banner at the protest. Herri Batasuna is one of three major political parties and the strongest left-nationalist party in the Basque country of southern Europe. The indicted 23 represent the entire leadership of Herri Batasuna.

They are accused of "collaborating with an armed group."

The indictment is based on Spain's anti-terrorist law--which lets the Spanish government arrest anyone for being sympathetic with the Basque nationalist cause.

The 23 face up to eight years in prison. Their crime: showing a videotape in which members of the ETA--Basque Homeland and Freedom, an armed organization fighting for the independence of the Basque country--explain proposals for a cease-fire and peace.

The Basque country--Euskal Herria in the Basque language-- is made up of six provinces split between Spain and France. The Basque people have been struggling for independence and self-determination for over 1,200 years.

In spite of invasions, annexations and divisions, the Basque people have maintained their language and their desire for independence.

The prosecution of 23 Herri Batasuna leaders is only one injustice among many that Basque nationalists have suffered at the hands of the Spanish state.

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