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Basque Prisoners Protest for Political Status

November 11, 2005


from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No. 185. June/July 2005

On 16 March, all 720 Basque political prisoners began a hunger strike in an effort to win political status. There are currently more Basque political prisoners than at any time since the Franco dictatorship, and they are spread over 82 different prisons, the majority in Spain, but some in France and elsewhere. This repression is aimed at crushing the resistance of those who fight for Basque self-determination.

The Basque nationalist coalition Batasuna was banned by the Spanish state in August 2002 – all Batasuna activity is proscribed and members face prosecution as ‘supporters of terrorism’. This campaign of state repression involves the dispersal of prisoners across Spain and France far away from their home and relatives.

The hunger strike was launched by the Basque Political Prisoners’ Group (EPPK), and followed a series of protests since the turn of the year. In January prisoners associated with the EPPK began holding a series of sit-in protests. Following the increasingly repressive response by the prison authorities to these protests, the Basque political prisoners initiated their hunger strike to highlight their conditions.

The hunger strike ended after 12 days on 27 March with the prisoners stating that their struggle had moved into a new phase. The hunger strike itself endured severe media censorship here in Britain and internationally with few news agencies covering any information on the prisoners’ struggle.

Iñigo Makazaga was among those prisoners who took part in the hunger strike; he is the only Basque political prisoner in Britain and has been incarcerated in Belmarsh prison for over four years often in solitary confinement, pending extradition to Spain on fabricated evidence. His solicitor has warned that if extradited he would be likely to face torture in Spanish prisons. Iñigo’s ‘crime’ has been his support of the Basque right to self-determination as an activist in the Basque student movement and a member of Batasuna.

Write to Iñigo Makazaga, FF7630, HMP Belmarsh, Western Way, Thamesmead London SE28 0EB.

Protest at Iñigo’s continued detention and mistreatment to Home Secretary Charles Clarke, Home Secretary, Peel Building, Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF

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