▲ The large demonstration for the rights of prisoners was divided this year into 200 contingents due to the high incidence of covid. In the image, one of the columns that demanded the end of the policy of exception that keeps ETA convicts in prisons outside the Basque Country Photo Europa Press

Europa Press

La Jornada newspaper
Sunday, January 9, 2022, p. 18

Bilbao. Around 200 demonstrations held in different towns of the Basque Autonomous Community and Navarra yesterday demanded the end of the policy of exception for the prisoners of the separatist armed organization ETA, who are kept in prisons away from their family.

The mobilizations were called by the Sarey citizen network, the main one was registered in this city, where Catalan nationalist formations were added, in addition to the Basque independence organizations, such as EH Bildu and Podemos.

This year, the great demonstration for the rights of prisoners had to be transformed, due to the very high incidence of covid and its variant omicron, and divided into various demonstrations in the three Basque capitals and in Navarra, as well as a significant number of towns in both Autonomous communities.

Shouting, they demanded the return of the prisoners home in the marches that were led by relatives of ETA prisoners. Halfway through the journey, Sare’s spokesperson, Joseba Azkarraga, demanded an end to the current exceptional prison policy.

“It is difficult to understand that 10 years after ETA’s decision to abandon its violent activity, an exception protocol is drawn, with 50 percent of the prisoners outside the prisons of the Basque Country, he denounced.

The Spanish State defended its policy of having ETA militants imprisoned in prisons outside the Basque Country, arguing that from there they could organize attacks.

The measure violates the human rights of the prisoners, as it makes it difficult for their families to visit them.

The Bilbao demonstration concluded at the town hall, where Sare read a statement in which he reiterated that all ETA prisoners should be in prisons in the Basque Country.

Both for reasons of law, and because after the transfer of jurisdiction of prisons, a positive and humanitarian follow-up is possible in accordance with the rules of behavior respectful of the legality that Basque society has given itself, he indicated.

We are claiming human rights. We are not facing political demands. Its defense is up to us as citizens because a reconciled society cannot be built on an unjust and vindictive punitive basis, he concluded.

For his part, the leader of the Popular Party, Pablo Casado, regretted that 850 innocents in Spain will see this Saturday the 200 concentrations in support of their ETA murderers and that the government of Spain, led by the socialist Pedro Sánchez, depends on Bildu, a party that does not condemn those murders.

The 850 innocents to whom Casado referred are councilors and mayors of his party assassinated by ETA.

We cannot forget this: ETA no longer kills because prosecutors, judges, policemen, state security forces, democratic politicians and international cooperation have defeated it … but that does not mean that now We must give them prison benefits because they have stopped killing, the politician stressed.