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Date: Sat, 13 Dec 97 21:27:40 CST
From: (Brian Hauk)
Subject: Madrid Jails 23 Leaders Of Basque Independence Struggle

Madrid Jails 23 Leaders Of Basque Independence Struggle

By Megan Arney, Militant, Vol.61 no. 44, 15 December 1997

On December 1 the Spanish Supreme Court jailed 23 central leaders of Herri Batasuna (Popular Unity), the Basque pro- independence political party. The entire leadership of the party was sentenced to seven years on charges of collaboration with the armed independence group ETA (Basque Homeland and Liberty). The Basque people are an oppressed nation of about 3 million people in northern Spain and southern France.

Five of the accused held seats in regional parliaments in the Basque country. Herri Batasuna is the third largest party in Spain and has two members in the national parliament. The independence activists were to start their sentences within 48 hours of the decision. They were also fined US$3,355 each and barred from standing for election while in prison.

The Spanish government's excuse for the prosecution of the Herri Batasuna leadership was a video prepared to be shown on television as part of the party's election campaign. The broadcast included a presentation of the ETA's proposal for a peace initiative, the main points of which include recognition by the Spanish state for the right to self-determination and territorial integrity of the Basque country, or Euskal Herria; the removal of Spanish occupational forces; and a general amnesty for Basque refugees and some 580 political prisoners.

The proposal also lists issues "to be discussed and agreed among the Basque population," including how to realize self-determination, normalization of the Basque language, demilitarization of the Basque country, educational rights, and democratic liberties.

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