I'm translating here in full today's editorial article of Gara newspaper, probably of some interest after the direct attack by Spain to the most basic rights of association, free speech and human rights in the Basque Country, by arresting and surely outlawing human rights organization Herrira. I do not necessarily agree with all but I still think it has great informative value.
Defending Human Rights is an offense for the State
"Giza eskubideak. Konponbide. Bakea". This was the slogan of the last campaign developed by Herrira, social movement that yesterday suffered the violent attack of the Guardia Civil. "Human Rights. Solution. Peace". Three concepts that choke the State and that have motivated the n-th aggression against this People. Nobody should be deceived. It is not a circumstantial act, done on the thread of the imminent resolution of the Strasbourg Court -whichever this will be-, but a much deeper movement. Madrid has decided to cross into another stage in its attitude before the new cycle opened in the Basque Country and, sadly, maybe we will have to get used again to unease coming with such a quotidian activity as turning on the radio in the morning. An Autumn fecund in initiatives that could break the blockade by the states had been announced and the Spanish securitocrats have chosen attack as their best defense.
The operative that carries the signature of judge Eloy Velasco is a most serious attack against freedoms and human rights. Because that area of human rights is precisely the only one in which Herrira has worked since its constitution less than two years ago. It's worth emphasizing this fact because, after the lies poured by Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz and the leaks that so enthusiastically have spread some media, we must confront the reality of a social movement which has always acted under public light and that has never hidden its goals: achieving the repatriation of Basque prisoners, the liberation of severely ill prisoners and the derogation of the 197/2006 doctrine¹ along with all other emergency laws. Goals that are shared by the majority of Basque society and, around which, a human tide² clotted earlier this year the streets of Bilbao, outnumbering the also massive demonstration of 2012. It is not possible for anyone else to gather 115,000 people in this country.
However the path of Herrira has not just been successful in quantitative terms. Since the very first day it has dedicated many efforts to consolidate channels of dialogue with all kind of actors and including a broad ideological spectrum among its components. It was born with the goal of being plural and it has achieved it. Also in the acts it has promoted and that can be confirmed even by the very judges of the Audiencia Nacional⁴.
Success, plurality, defense of human rights, are seemingly enough ingredients for the State to consider it an offense. Starting from there, it has just awaited for the best moment to strike.
A cushion for the attack
That moment has arrived now, just when a new political year begins, which is expected to be intense and determinant for the achievement of peace. It comes also days after PNV and PSE⁵ signed a strategical pact and when the Report on Peace in the Parliament of Gasteiz⁶ is still blocked by the obstructive attitude of this last party and jeltzale⁷ inaction. It seems obvious that the Spanish Government has found in this context the much needed cushion for this police operative, which would have been much harder to achieve if these two parties kept a different position.
"A time is born in which nobody is persecuted or coerced for his [or her] ideas". This sentence belongs to Iñigo Urkullu⁸ and was part of his investiture speech. It is obvious that he was wrong. Before and after reaching his seat, the Lehendakari has sported a very partial vision of the wounding of rights happened in this country in the last decades and that still happens. It is not something personal of him anyhow. The reactions of Josu Erkoreka, speaker of the Western Basque Governmen, and of Andoni Ortuzar, President of the EAJ-PNV, before this military police operative evidences how thick is the skin of the PNV leaders when violence is exerted by the state. It is also not surprising the role taken by the Ertzaintza⁹ to protect the agents of the military corps and repress the solidarity with those arrested. The Ertzaintza of Urkullu is the Ertzaintza of Ares¹⁰. There is no other.
Paradoxically -or not-, the President of the PSE made a much more critical read of what happened yesterday than his colleague of the PNV. Jesús Eguiguren, in fact, asked the Western Basque Government to "be at the height of the circumstances and takes action on the matter". A clear indicator of the position each actor right now¹¹.
Challenge to Basque society
It is not possible to speak of immobility of the State because it is evident that a dramatic involution has taken place, and this people must be ready to give the right response. The road is marked and advancing through it goes through articulating social majorities in favor of a democratic resolution of the conflict. It is no magic formula, it is not new either, but it is what will achieve to reverse the aggression. This is what Herrira has done, what has put Madrid so nervous. The Guardia Civil, the Audiencia Nacional, the Interior Minister, in brief: the Spanish State, has thrown a challenge to Basque society, and the way this one confronts the shove will determine the future of the Basque Country. It is the time to act as People, to turn off the hand brake and march over the ditches and the barbed wire. We have to get it right in Autumn for the Spring to come¹².
¹ The so-called Parot doctrine (on the first prisoner it was applied against) is a jurisprudence, declared illegal by European courts but still applied by Spain unilaterally, by which some prisoners with sentences for "terrorism" (i.e. ETA prisoners, not state terrorism prisoners in practical terms) are forced to serve their sentences one after another even above the constitutional limit of 30 years of prison, resulting in de facto live sentences, even if such penalty does not exist in Spanish law. See: Inquisition insists with the life penalty for Basques
² See: Jan. 23 2013: Massive march for Basque prisoners in spite of the rain
³ See: Apr. 15 2012: Basque Country: tens of thousands demonstrate for the rights of prisoners
⁴ Audiencia Nacional, alias The Inquisition: political tribunal created by the Fascist regime with the name of Public Order Tribunal. It deals with political cases, be them what they consider "terrorism" or the trial of "chartered" citizens such as elect representatives or members of the government, which they usually keep safe from any penalties or even any half-serious investigation.
⁵ EAJ-PNV: Basque Nationalist Party (or Traditionalist in the Basque form), PSE: Socialist Party of the Basque Country (Western Basque delegation of the all-Spain chauvinist-liberal ("socialdemocrat") PSOE. These two parties are sort of a "Weimar coalition" in the Western Basque Country, having ruled together many times.
⁶ The Western Basque semi-autonomous Parliament, located in Vitoria-Gasteiz.
⁷ Jeltzale means lover or partisan of the J.E.L.: Jainkoa Eta Legizarra, i.e. God And the Old Law, a reformed version of the Carlist slogan: God, Fatherland, Charters, King. It's a common name for the members of the EAJ-PNV, a right-wing party which pretends to be Basque Nationalist but acts in practice as a merely regionalist force, quite useful for Spanish oppression of this ancient country.
⁸ I. Urkullu: current Lehendakari (President) of the Western Basque semi-autonomous region (EAJ-PNV).
⁹ Ertzaintza: Western Basque autonomous police corps under control of the regional government.
¹⁰ Rodolfo Ares: regional Councilor of Interior (police) under the undemocratic government of López (PSOE), infamous for killing one and injuring so many with the most brutal use of police violence.
¹¹ Actually this seems more like wishful thinking. Eguiguren is nothing but a figurehead and has already been an outlier within his party before, surely in the old game of "good cop, bad cop", in which the "good cop" actually holds no power whatsoever but serves as icon of a "plurality" that is not real at all.
¹² This conclusion part is obviously a rallying address meant to direct the resistance through peaceful means and attempt to dissuade the growing bunch that are quite tired of a "peace process" that goes nowhere.