Salatzen Dut! (“I denounce,” in Basque) was the slogan flooding the streets of Bilbao on Saturday in a mass demonstration to condemn the political imprisonment of Basque men and women.
Under heavy rain, 80,000 people (out of the approximately three million living in Basque country) pointed their finger at the human rights violations against political prisoners, the Spanish government’s boycott of the peace process and the criminalization of the defense of human rights. The crowd was led by the Mirentxin, the solidarity network of vans offered to families for weekly visits to their relatives behind bars. These families emotionally marched at the front of the masses.
The event was convened by the citizen network Sare, a social platform that unites diverse feelings and ideological positions around the defense of human rights of political prisoners. Despite the diversity of social and political actors who participated in the event, Podemos did not participate officially. But Iñigo Errejon, spokesman for the Congress of Deputies, and other party leaders took part and invited others to participate in an individual capacity. The Basque Nationalist Party, which now leads the provincial government, did not join by the initiative. Arnaldo Otegi, leader of the Basque separatist coalition Bildu, said: “That was a favor to the immobility of the Partido Popular.”
On Oct. 20, 2011, three men in balaclavas, under an ETA poster, appeared on video to announce their ultimate ceasefire. Since then, the government of the Partido Popular, with the support of the socialist PSOE and other conservative forces, has not changed its attitude toward the demands for democracy and self-determination of the Basque leftist forces. On the contrary, by using the scapegoat of “terrorism,” it would seem that the repressive apparatus of the Spanish state is narrowing the margins of viability to other parties and social and political movements in the Basque Country and beyond.