The weather was very ugly but nevertheless an estimate 115,000 people (I would think that many more in fact) marched today through Bilbao demanding all rights for Basque prisoners and refugees.
The march was opened by the vans who weekly carry relatives and friends of prisoners to very remote locations in Spain and France for visiting. However when the march began all the length of its planned route was already packed with people who had to pull to the sides to allow the heading to go through.
After the vans, the relatives of prisoners and refugees carried banners for repatriation, including the main one, which read in Basque and English:
Giza eskubideak, irtenbidea, bakea. Euskal presoak Euskal Herrira. Repatriate all basque prisoners.
The text in Basque reads: All human rights, exit, peace. Basque prisoners to the Basque Country.
The demonstration had the support of the wide coalition for independence EH Bildu and all its member organizations. Also both major Basque labor unions, ELA and LAB, were present.
From the Northern Basque Country, the main independentist formation Abertzaleen Batasuna was supportive and present, as was the case of Ecologist regional councilor Alice Leiciaguezahar. Also recently freed political prisoner Aurore Martin (of the just self-dissolved Batasuna) took part herself.
Surprisingly several members of the Socialist Party of Navarre (PSN-PSOE, unionist) took part. They were José Luis Uriz and Aihnoa Aznarez, although this one was in quality of her membership in Ahotsak (Voices, coalition of women politicians of diverse backgrounds for peace).
From Catalonia, Joan Tardá (ERC) and David Fernández (CUP) were present. There was also support from Castile (Madrid) and Italy. Each of these countries sent a bus packed of internationalists. Catalan and Kurdish citizens also took part carrying banners of their respective nations and that of Kurdish leader Abdullah Oçalan.
The march was silent, silence only now and then broken by chants of Basque Prisoners to the Basque Country!
The lack of space for all people to march caused the protest to spill over to nearby streets. The march was so slow and difficult that when the opening group arrived to Plaza Biribila, near the end of the route, an hour and half after the beginning, the main banner was still at the beginning.
After some improvised verses (a Basque tradition), a manifesto was read in Basque, Spanish, French and sign language. The text applauded especially the bravery and dignity of the relatives of the prisoners and denounced the painful and pointless arrogance of Spanish and French politicians committed with punishment for some and not with comprehensive solutions for all. A clear demand was made to Madrid and Paris to end the scattering of Basque prisoners, to radically change prison policy and to show their commitment with Peace with actions of at the very least respect for Human Rights.
Sources: Naiz Info[es], Kazeta[eu], Gara[es].