Basque Country – police operation against the Herrira movement

On September 30th, the Civil Guard conducted a police operation against the popular movement that works for human rights of prisoners, Herrira, arresting 18 of its representatives. Lokarri argues that this operation represents a serious violation of fundamental democratic freedoms, and calls for the release of the detainees and an immediate end to the police operation.

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By Lokarri

On September 30th, the Civil Guard conducted a police operation against the popular movement that works for human rights of prisoners, Herrira, arresting 18 of its representatives.

The court order specifies that those arrested are accused of glorifying terrorism and financing an armed organization. Likewise, the Civil Guard raided the organization’s headquarters in Hernani, Bilbo, Pamplona and Vitoria, while the National Court ordered the closure of their headquarters, and 32 Twitter accounts, 125 profiles in Facebook and 38 websites, in addition to the blocking of bank accounts used by Herrira. The Spanish Interior Minister called Herrira “ETA’s tentacle”, while most Basque political parties denounced this operation.

On the day of the arrests, thousands of people demonstrated in several Basque towns in order to show their revulsion towards the operation. In the town of Hernani, the Ertzantza used force against the protesters, resulting in a senator of Amaiur suffering head injuries. Numerous demonstrations have been called for the following days.

Lokarri’s response

This operation represents a serious violation of fundamental democratic freedoms, such as assembly and association, especially considering Herrira’s path. This group has expressed – in a clear and precise way – their respect for the human rights of all people and has opted for peace. All their demonstrations have been non-violent, and they have sought for pluralism and understanding with broad sectors of society in all their activities. There is no reason, therefore, to sustain the charges.

Beyond this, the Government again shows its irresponsibility and unwillingness to help Basque society in its work to build coexistence based on mutual respect. With such operations, it seems that the government wants to drag Basque citizens to a past of exclusion which many believed had been overcome.

Therefore, Lokarri calls for the release of the detainees and the immediate end to the police operation.

Lokarri’s petition

After the end of ETA’s violence, we have an historic opportunity to consolidate peace and strengthen coexistence. For that reason, Lokarri has decided to launch an initiative to collect signatures to demand the release of detainees and for Herrira to develop its activities free of persecution.

That’s why Lokarri encourages citizens to sign the manifest and agrees to send all signatures to Mariano Rajoy, Jorge Fernandez Diaz and Judge Eloy Velasco.

Text of the manifesto

Freedom for Herrira and detainees

After the end of ETA violence, a new era for Basque society opened. We have a great opportunity to build peace and improve our relationships. During the last two years we have been waiting for the Government of Spain to help Basque society in this important challenge. So far they have failed to do so, which is a serious dereliction of their responsibilities.

Now they launched a police operation against Herrira, thereby returning Basque society to a past of illegalizations and exclusions that many thought had been overcome.

Herrira is an organization that defends the human rights of prisoners. It is a fully legitimate and democratic activity that cannot be considered criminal in any case.

Therefore I call for:

  • 1) for the release of all detainees;
  • 2) for Herrira to be able to carry out its activity without any kind of persecution or threat;
  • 3) for the Government of Spain to assume its responsibility towards Basque society, giving-up past strategies and contributing to peace and coexistence;
  • 4) as a first step, for them to listen and respect the will of the majority of Basque society, who claims the approach of prisoners to their place of origin, thus ending the dispersion, as this measure punishes their families, hinders social reintegration and obstructs the construction of a peaceful and respectful coexistence.

Lokarri is a citizens’ network that works for peace, consensus, consultation and reconciliation. To learn more about their work, please click here.

If you are interested in contributing to the debate on conflict in Spain, particularly the Basque Country or Catalonia, then please contact TransConflict by clicking here.

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