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EUSKAL PRESOAK EUSKAL HERRIA!

By Patrick Van Roy On September 20th, 2019

Guest Post by Paul McMahon

I made a comment to Noel earlier today about attending demonstrations and it got me thinking about a phenomena in the Spanish penal system which is probably not widely known outside the Basque Country muchless wider outside the Iberian peninsula itself. Every year I and a hundred thousand or so others attend a march in January in the Basque Country’s largest city, Bilbao, to protest against the Spanish government policy of dispersión of Basque prisoners:

The policy of dispersion means that Basque prisoners are scattered in prisons all over the state and can be moved at any time without notice. Spain is geographically the second largest country in western Europe after France and this policy often means families travelling hundreds of kilometres to see their loved ones for an hour’s visit. These trips incur considerable stress and expense. In one particular incident that I personally know of the sister, wife & young son of a prisoner flew more than 2,300 kilometres from Bilbao to Tenerife just to be told when they arrived at the prison that the prisoner had been moved from Tenerife to Madrid. The photo above is the symbol of the ETXERAT  (home) campaign which lobbies and campaigns to send Basque prisoners closer to their families to prison in the Basque Country: 

Basques Fight State Dispersion of ETA Prisoners in Mass March

Note that the campaign doesn’t ask for prisoners to be released or for their sentences to be reduced but to merely return them to  serve the remainder of their sentences in prisons in the Basque Country and alleviate the stresses and pressures felt by family members going on visits. Like most Basque issues this has divided society in the state:

Fate of ETA prisoners divides Spanish society

The policy of dispersion causes great animosity in the Basque Country where it’s seen as a policy of vindictiveness that punishes the family of the prisoner as well as the prisoner. In the Basque Country ETXERAT say their campaign is apolitical and centered on the prisoner’s families’ human rights.

 

So, ‘terrorists’ reaping what they sow or families being punished for the sins of others? 

26 Responses to “EUSKAL PRESOAK EUSKAL HERRIA!”

  1. As always, thank you for your hospitality Pat.

  2. Interesting post

    The Basques are a mystery to me

  3. I try to introduce topics away from the main bug bears for a bit of variety as much as possible Phantom. Do you have an opinion of the content?

  4. Well said Paul. The hatred displayed by Castillian Spain towards the Basques and Catalans is truly something to behold. Francoism is alive and well in its heartlands, even 44 years after the death of El Caudillo

  5. I’m obviously biased regarding the wider situation Peter but the petty maliciousness from Castilla towards the north is at times breathtaking.

  6. Is this the policy for all Basque prisoners or just political ones?

  7. AFAIK Mairin it’s only applies to those from the Basque Country charged with political offences, (and bear in mind that a political offence in Spain doesn’t nessecarily mean ETA actions). I deliberately didn’t use the adjective ‘political’ in the post as I wanted to demonstrate that the campaigners say that the issue is a human rights matter in terms of the families as opposed to a political one.

  8. What types of offenses are we talking about?

  9. Got it…political offenses like advocating for prisoners rights. Just read:
    “Among those facing terrorism charges were 18 members of Herrira, a collective which campaigns for the rights of Basque prisoners and fugitives; 12 lawyers who have defended Basque political prisoners, including those accused of Eta membership; eight people who worked as mediators between Basque political prisoners and Basque civil society; two members of Etxerat, an organisation of family members of Basque political prisoners; and two members of Jaiki Hadi, a collective of medical professionals who support current and former prisoners, their families and victims of torture by the Spanish state.”

  10. Well, there’s obviously the ETA ones but being a member of a banned political party, attending an illegal protest, loosely defined ‘glorification of terrorism’ etc. I know a girl who served four years for making information documentaries about prisoners with information that was already in the public domain and I know that these kids have been dispersed:

    https://www.atangledweb.org/?p=74084

  11. Very interesting, Paul. Is it worse when the PP are in power or are the PSOE just as bad?

  12. Sanchez has made noises about easing the dispersion policy Reg but, as the linked article above shows, has met with opposition from some sections of what seems to be the nationalist right of Spanish society. I’m not aware of the policy being any better nor worse under previous governments although it should be noted that GAL were formed under a PSOE government.

  13. Are any of the current prisoners in jail for serious violent offenses

    Serious question

    I don’t have knowledge of the subject

  14. I think that that’s a certainty although I’m not able to quantify numbers.

  15. Interesting post. France apparently has a similar policy for its ETA prisoners. It would seem that the policy in Spain was more relaxed during ceasefires and employed as a tactic more during periods of violence. It is unfortunate that families whose members are uninvolved have to travel but of course had prisoners not committed the crimes they would not be in the situation.

  16. I’m unaware of the policy within France, (which of course doesn’t mean that it’s not correct).

    ETA announced a ‘definitive end of violence’ in 2011, disposed of all its weapons in 2017 and dissolved its structure last year. Wouldn’t that suggest that the dispersion policy be ‘relaxed’ currently?

    It is unfortunate that families whose members are uninvolved have to travel but of course had prisoners not committed the crimes they would not be in the situation.

    I think this comment misses the content of the post Mahons. No one disputes that that’s the case but should the families of prisoners also suffer for the actions of their loved ones? As stated above:

    The campaign doesn’t ask for prisoners to be released or for their sentences to be reduced but to merely return them to serve the remainder of their sentences in prisons in the Basque Country and alleviate the stresses and pressures felt by family members going on visits.

    Is it an unreasonable request for prisoners to be brought to serve their sentences in reasonable proximity to their families?

    I’d also restate that being imprisoned for a political offence in Spain doesn’t neccesarily involve violence.

  17. I would think that the policy should be relaxed as a consideration of a prolonged ceasefire. I would say the families are a consideration, but perhaps only one of the factors. I don’t think the policy should be applied to non violent offenders.

  18. To my knowledge ETA haven’t carried out any violence from 2011 which I think would qualify as a prolonged ceasefire?

    I’d also be of the opinion that the families of the prisoners are the crux of the conversation in the post and shouldn’t face any unwarranted hardship as a result of the actions of other family members and imagine that most objective observers would feel the same but would be interested in hearing what other factors you think should be taken into consideration.

    I realy don’t understand the logic behind your view that the policy of non dispersion shouldn’t be applied to non violent offences. Perhaps I’m reading this point incorrectly?

  19. Apologies Mahons. After re-reading your post I now see that you mean the policy of dispersion shouldn’t be applied to non violent offences.

  20. It was my understanding that the same dispersion policy existed in France and applied more vigorously. That was from past conversations with campaigners for the families affected. I’m not sure if it’s still the case.

  21. Is there an official reason given for the dispersion policy ? Is it to stop ‘political’ prisoners associating together in groups or is it designed as a deliberate policy of repeated movements of prisoners specifically to cause difficulties regarding visits etc ? The former can be justified, the later not so much.

  22. When I did a quick read on it It was said that one of the major reasons was to keep violent actors From communicating with one another

  23. I’ve never heard an official explanation for the policy Colm but if what Phantom suggests above is the reason surely ETA mantaining (AFAIK) a complete cessation of violence since 2011 would negate that argument?

    Phantom, I’d like to have a look at the reasons given, could you link to the sources?

  24. Hello from The Harp ( pub ) in mighty, happy London

  25. One of the stalwarts at Morgoth’s Review has just spent some time in the Basque country:

    http://nwioqeqkdf.blogspot.com/2019/09/social-justice-is-dumpster-full-of.html

    JD Hogg • 19 hours ago

    So…. 5 nights in Spanish Basque Country.

    I’d not visited mainland Spain as an adult before, and I have some observations.

    1) It’s beautiful here. The mountains, the cities, the women. It’s all marvellous. Come here if you haven’t been. You won’t regret it.
    2) The Spanish ARE white. Very white, in fact. Not really sure why there is a debate about it. There are lots of Philippinos and Aztecs here though. And some muzzies and blacks.
    3) They all have children. There are children everywhere! In the plazas, in every street – babies, toddlers and older. It’s really nice because it relaxes the atmosphere – nowhere feels anything other than safe. It’s such a contrast to Britain. I daren’t think what is happening to our demographics if this is stasis.
    4) The place is pozzed as fuck. Commie party graffiti, rainbow flags, open pot smoking, 70% of under 30s are tattood, pro-migrant posters in the Churches etc. The Basques obviously take after the Irish – bomb civilians for decades for your sovereignty, then give it away in a generation to none-whites.

    It’s good though. Almost as good as France. I’ll be coming back.

    JD Hogg JD Hogg • 18 hours ago

    They have the poverty porn on TV here too.

    Volunteering in Kenya for 16 year olds and above.

    So a 16 year old girl, who have never so much as unblocked a sink in Spain, is now being recruited to install water pumps in a country with a surfeit of working age men.

    General Franco es rotatador rapido.

    JD Hogg JD Hogg • 19 hours ago

    I forgot to add – people here seem so cultured. They can just sit and talk outside, all times of the day, talking.
    At home they would be inside watching Corrie.
    You see inter-generational encounters and groups far more than at home. 7 on a Friday night in a British town – it’s 20-35 year olds out on the piss and maybe some boomers out to dinner. Here you have parents at an Ale House having a half pint while their children have a play date. Girls are out for a milkshake and chips. Young men have those tiny coffees, a cigarette and read a broadsheet newspaper.
    People actually behave like adults. It’s weird.

  26. The Basques obviously take after the Irish – bomb civilians for decades for your sovereignty, then give it away in a generation to none-whites.

    That’s about it.