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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

Spain's Dirty War against the Basques

By Monica Somocurcio, Workers World, 30 October 1997

On Oct. 11, Workers World spoke with two representatives of the Basque organization Senideak--the Association of Relatives of Basque Political Prisoners, Refugees and Deportees.

Blanka Kalzakorta, a member of Senideak, is a former political prisoner and the daughter of a political prisoner.

I=A4igo Elkoro is a member of the European Democratic Lawyers Association, a defender of Basque political prisoners, and a writer and investigator on torture.

Kalzakorta and Elkoro talked with WW about the conditions facing Basque detainees in Spanish prisons.

Kalzakorta explained that the modern phase of the struggle started in the 1960s. It was waged against the Francisco Franco dictatorship until the fascist's death in 1975, and since then has continued to this day.

In a 1978 referendum on the Spanish constitution put forth by a new "democratic" government, the majority of the Basque people voted against it--because it stated that Spain was one indivisible nation and authorized the military to control any separatist movement.

Kalzakorta said that since 1978 more than 20,000 people have been arrested for their Basque nationalist views. There are 585 political prisoners detained in Spain today.

She said: "Until 1988 prisoners were put incommunicado in detention centers for 10 days, were tortured and sent to special courts. They would wait in prison for their trial anywhere from two to four years."

She said, "The situation now is different in that the detention period is five days, although the police can ask for more time." Under the "prevention of terrorism" laws, "a preventive detention period of four years" is allowed.

"Today they don't differentiate between the common prisoners and the political prisoners. Before, we [political prisoners] were housed together, and we could engage in debates, political education and so on.

"But now we are all separated, spread out throughout Spain and France, something that affects the women prisoners most severely."

Speaking on the anti-terrorism laws, Kalzakorta said, "Just because we are Basque and are struggling and involved in politics we can go to prison."

When asked whether there was a "dirty war" against the Basque movement, both Kalzakorta and Elkoro replied affirmatively. They mentioned the history of the death squads--in particular the most recent, the GAL or "Anti- terrorist Groups of Liberation"--which disappeared only in the early 1990s.

Elkoro explained that with the current shoot-to-kill policy of the police, the work of the death squads and the death penalty, supposedly abolished, remain alive. The U.S. Department of State includes the ETA in its list of terrorist organization, thus sanctioning the Spanish anti-terrorist laws.

The dirty war against the Basque movement is not limited to the Spanish and French borders. In July, a Basque refugee was arrested in Venezuela. In August, a Basque refugee in Mexico, a member of the Anti-Capitalist Autonomus Commandos, disappeared and later was found dead.

Also in August, three ETA representatives who had been involved in peace negotiations with the Spanish government in the past were arrested in the Dominican Republic and deported to Spain to stand trial.

Elkoro summed up the message the Basque movement would like to give to the U.S. public: "Our message is first one of solidarity with the oppressed and the youth here. "We would like you to change the image you may have of us. It isn't according to the image that has been created, that has been transmitted here, created by the powers that be. "Just like we are not told about the realities here, you are not told the truth about us either. Lose any preconceptions you may have which are based on falsification, be informed, and let's establish links to exchange an image of reality.

"Let's march together."

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