Basque community appeals for peace and justice
The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney hosted a talk by Basque activist Endika Zarrabeitia Salterain on February 3.
Zarrabeitia is a member of SORTU, a left Basque political party fighting for independence from Spain in a framework of moving towards socialism.
Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon introduced the evening, reminding the audience of the high number of Australian workers and Communist Party members, who fought on behalf of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War in 1935.
Zarrabeitia listed the historical events leading to the struggle for independence. The Basque area of northern Spain and the Pyrenees has a long history going back to the Roman era and in feudal times when it was known as Navarre, before Charles V united Spain.
One aspect of the struggle has been the route of armed resistance, carried out by the ETA for the past 50 years.
In 2011, at a peace conference in Aiete, the ETA renounced violence and apologised to all the victims. However the Spanish state is still intransigent and refuse to concede to any demands to move the peace process further.
Zarrabeitia showed a video of the large independence march of 130,000 held in Bilbao on January 11, a march which the governing party, Partido Popular, declared illegal.
The Basque community are demanding from the Spanish authorities: the end of dispersion of Basque prisoners; the release of seriously ill prisoners and the immediate release of Arnaldo Otegi and others for merely expressing a political opinion or activity in a legitimate movement.