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News ::
Basque? What's that?! (english)
30 Jul 2003
Who are the Basques and why does the Spanish gov't call their culture "terrorist"?
protest.jpg
Who are the Basques and why does the Spanish gov't call their culture "terrorist"?
This is a copy of a brochure being handed out in Donostia (San Sebastian), Basque Country, Spain:

YOU ARE IN THE BASQUE COUNTRY NOW

This is neither France nor Spain


As you can see it in the map of Europe we have inserted in this leaflet for
you, the country of the Basques – “Euskal Herria “ in Basque language- is that
small Pyrenean territory of 20,000 square kilometres composed (3.000.000 inhabitants) sof seven
provinces:
“Lapurdi”, “Behe-Nafarroa” and “Zuberoa” under French administration, and
“Araba”,
“Bizkaia”, “Gipuzkoa” and “Nafarroa” under Spanish administration.


We have also a language of our own, “euskara”, on both sides of the
Franco-Spanish
border, which separates us. As you can see in this leaflet, it is completely
different from the languages we live with in our territory, French and Spanish.
Our language, of unknown origin and kinship, is according to all the researches
done the most ancient language in Europe, since it is pre-indoeuropean. With
it, we have been developing , for thousands of years and on this territory
which we claim, our own culture, our own history, our own institutions.


A people whose existence is denied


However, and despite everything, “Euskal Herria” is still today a country
that does not exist officially, a People in danger of extinction. In opposition
to what the majority of the Basque population wants, neither the Spanish state
nor the French state recognise us as a People, that is why they refuse us
the Right to Self-determination. As a consequence, and against our will, our
territory is nowadays divided between two states (France and Spain) and in
three different administrative regions ( Aquitaine, Navarre and the Autonomous
Community). Our language is not official in all the Basque territory. We do
not have national Basque institutions of official character. We do not have
a legislation of our own. We do not have the same rights in all the Basque
territory.


An endless fight in favour of our recognition

Fruit of this historical and violent denial of the existence of our Nation by
both states, the Basque People has been struggling for centuries for its
recognition,
for its survival. Unfortunately, it has never had the political ways to do
it and this is the reason why no generation of Basque people has ever known
peace in , at least , the last three centuries.


As a consequence of this historical conflict not solved by the political way,
there are nowadays in “Euskal Herria” 670 Basque political prisoners. Almost
150 of them are in French prisons and more than 500 are in Spanish prisons.
There are also Basque political prisoners in Germany, England, Switzerland,
Argentina, Canada... And there are more than 2,000 Basque political exiles in
different countries all over the world - in Europe, Africa, South America and
the Caribbean. In addition to this, hundreds of Basque citizens are arrested
every year by all sorts of police in our country and lots of them denounce
the ill treatment and tortures they have suffered during the five days of
solitary
detention, actions collected every year by international institutions on
human rights.


But the violation of the civil and political rights of the Basques extends
to other fields. Since President José Maria Aznar - Bush and Blair’s partner
in the invasion of Iraq - got to power (1996), the Spanish Government has
closed two newspapers, “Egin” and “Euskaldunon Egunkaria”, which was the only
newspaper edited in Basque, it has closed a radio and the investigation
magazine
“Ardi Beltza”; it has banned the youth organisations “Jarrai”, “Haika” and
“Segi”; it has banned the organisations which worked for the Basque political
prisoners “Gestoras Pro-Amnistia” and “Askatasuna”; and finally it has banned
the political parties “Herri Batasuna”, “Euskal Herritarrok” and “Batasuna”,
the latter being the second political force in the last town council elections
which they could run for in 1999, obtaining almost 900 elected members (more than 250.000 voters). In
the elections of 25 May 2003, the pro-independence, socialist option “Batasuna” could not take part , and the vote for the 250
popular
platforms was considered null by Madrid.


Political solution to the Basque conflict

If, within the European frame, it has been possible to start the process of
political and democratic resolution in Ireland, if dialogue has begun in
the same sense in Corse, the solution must necessarily follow the same way
in “Euskal Herria”. Repression, civil and political bannings, violations of
human rights, exclusion are never the solution. Franco tried during 40 years
under dictatorship. Felipe Gonzalez tried during the 14 years term of office,
even with state terrorism, called GAL. Jose Maria Aznar has been trying for
7 years, and he will leave without achieving it, next year after the General
Elections. The Basque people will not give up now. The solution is necessarily
political and it requires recognition of the Basque territoriality and
recognition
of the right to free determination, with participation of all the parts affected
in the conflict. The international institutions must favour such a way out as
this.

See also:
www.euskojustice.org
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