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News ::
Basques Feel the Sting of Spanish Democracy (english)
22 Feb 2003
This is a story about the repression experienced by the Basques, particularly by the spanish government. The only newspaper published in Basque, in the Basque Country, has been shut down by the Spanish government. They have been accused of terrorism. The Spanish government accuses any Basque entity which encourages the use of Basque language, or who speak out for Basque political rights, as being terrorist. It is not unusual---it happens everyday. This latest closing of the newspaper Egunkaria has just gone too far, though.

(article 2)
In the Basque Country

The Spanish Government Guarantees

Second-Class Citizenship for the Basques

Thursday, February 20th, the Spanish government of Jose Aznar showed how it plans to support the United State’s “war on terror”. In the early morning hours, the government shut down the offices of Egunkaria, the region’s largest Basque language newspaper. The editor, Martxelo Otamendi, and many journalists were arrested and taken to Madrid, where they are being held incommunicado for 5 days. They will have no access to the outside world, no lawyers and they are not even officially charged with a crime.

The Spanish government has closed down the offices of the newspaper, saying that the newspaper and its staff were created by ETA terrorists and supported by ETA terrorists. The Spanish government, however, has shown absolutely no proof of this accusation . The terrorist link is a common ploy that is used by the government so that Basque media can be quickly closed down. This has been done many, many times before, the last time being several years ago with the closing of the magazine Ardi Beltza and the arrest of its editor, Pepe Rei, who was accused of supporting terrorism. After his arrest, the closing down of his magazine, and a long trial, Rei was ultimately found innocent of the charges.

Egunkaria is the most well read Basque language newspaper in the Basque Country, utilizing both print and internet access. Egunkaria also publishes a very popular English version of it’s newspaper, available online until yesterday, when it was shut down by the Spanish government. Egunkaria is also supported by the Basque Autonomous government, through funding.

It is appalling when a “democratic” country shuts down newspapers, not because of the content of the paper, but because of accusations, however false, against its editors. It is imperative that all who believe in Freedom of the Press, especially western journalists, cry out against this injustice! Dig a little deeper than what appears on the surface, than what the Spanish and French newspapers print, if you dare. You will find an incredible story and an incredible history. ----Cathleen Acheritogaray ----

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