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Thousands of people in Bilbao ask that Basque institutions "facilitate the return home of ETA prisoners"

"We have not brought the prisoners to continue in jail but to be released once ordinary legislation applies to them," they point out.

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Thousands of people in Bilbao ask that Basque institutions "facilitate the return home of ETA prisoners"

"We have not brought the prisoners to continue in jail but to be released once ordinary legislation applies to them," they point out.


Thousands of people - 20,000 according to municipal sources - demonstrated this Saturday in Bilbao, called by the Sare citizen network, to demand that Basque political and judicial institutions "design and facilitate" the return home of ETA prisoners.

"We tell the prisoners that we will continue working to get them out onto the streets. We have not brought them here to continue in jail. We have brought them to the Basque prisons so that they can be released once ordinary legislation is applied to them. We want to be the key to the solution and that key must be held by the Basque institutions and the Basque judiciary," stressed the Sare spokesperson, Joseba Azkarraga, who has also censured those who use "the togas with a desire for revenge and the Court National as a platform for prevarication".

The traditional annual demonstration, called by Sare and the association of relatives of ETA prisoners, Etxerat, took place in a festive atmosphere under the motto 'Konponbiderako giltzak-Keys for resolution'.

Amid shouts in favor of the prisoners' return home, the march started after 4:00 p.m. from the La Casilla pavilion in the Biscayan capital behind a large banner carried by Sare spokespersons, Begoña Atxa and Joseba Azkarraga, and some of the signatories of the manifesto promoted by the organizers, among them, the actress Itziar Ituño and the former Athletic soccer player Endika Guarrotxena.

The march passed through Autonomía, Zabalburu, Hurtado de Amezaga, Plaza Circular and Buenos Aires streets, and concluded at Bilbao City Hall, where Joseba Azkarraga and Anaiz Funosas read a manifesto, in Basque and Spanish, addressed to the citizens. .

Political representatives, union and social organizations have been mixed among the protesters, who have claimed the rights of ETA prisoners and have demanded "the end of exceptionalism."

EH Bildu has participated in the march with a broad representation led by its general coordinator, Arnaldo Otegi, the coordinator of the training in Navarra, Miren Zabaleta, the spokesperson for the electoral campaign, Oihana Etxebarrieta, and the parliamentarian of the sovereignty coalition Julen Arzuaga .

Representatives of the Catalan nationalist parties ERC, Junts, CUP, and ANC have paraded alongside them. Representing Esquerra, the party's deputy spokesperson in the Congress of Deputies, Teresa Jordá, as well as senator Joan Queralt, and the historic Joan Tarda, have joined the march, while Junts has sent its vice president and spokesperson for Junts , Josep Rius.

The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) has been represented by its president, Dolors Feliu, and Montserrat Vinyets has attended on behalf of the CUP. Likewise, the march was attended by representatives of the ELA, LAB, ESK, Steilas, Hiru, HNE, CGT/CNT unions.

After showing his hope of "putting an end to all the exceptional penitentiary regulations" that affect prisoners, Sare thanked in the final statement the participation of "political parties, unions and associations of Euskal Herria", especially the Basque citizens, for their presence at the march "saying loud and clear that as long as imprisoned people do not see their rights recognized, we will continue to experience injustice and have an unresolved problem."

In Sare's opinion, this "collective effort" is "opening the way back home" for ETA prisoners, "Basque exiles and deportees."

The citizen network has stated that they seek to "close the cycle of violence, with real pacification, which gives way to coexistence and resolution", through the implementation of "a culture of human rights and peace." "That would be a true guarantee of non-repetition," she indicated.

At this point, he has addressed "those who insist on drawing a scenario of winners and losers", to warn them that "this scenario is imaginary" and, furthermore, "oblivious to the desire for peace that the vast majority of the population has." Basque society".

As he recalled, the "effort" of political, union and social organizations such as Sare, to "put an end to the cruel policy of removal" has ensured that the ETA prisoners "are now in the prisons" of the Basque Autonomous Community and Navarra. , which means "a stage completed."

However, he has warned that "now it is time to open the doors of the prisons and bring them home, through the application of a prison policy without exceptions." "Let us take the keys to resolution in our hands. The keys that close the doors to suffering. The keys that open the doors to coexistence. And all this with more democracy," she indicated.

For Sare, the "return to their homes of these people" cannot be left "in the hands of people outside" the Basque people, "unaware of what society demands and who do not care about the consequences that their decisions may have for our society." ". "We are not talking about utopias. We are talking about real possibilities," she said.

In his opinion, it should be "the political and judicial institutions of Euskal Herria" that "design and facilitate the journey home for Basque prisoners." "It must be Basque society, to which these people have to return, who defines how and when they should return. And this requires brave and fair political decisions," he pointed out.

For this reason, he has demanded "a judicial and penitentiary policy, without exceptional regulations." "We do not demand privileges. We demand that ordinary legality be applied and the rights of people deprived of liberty be respected," she indicated.

In this sense, he has addressed "those from the Prosecutor's Office and the National Court, who continue to act with political criteria and not justice", to tell them that "they will face us and we will continue to denounce them, again and again, for their arbitrariness and bias." ". "They should not demand respect for their decisions, when those decisions are contaminated by their political ideology. Respect is earned, not imposed," he warned.

Furthermore, he added that "the legitimacy" of institutions, also that of the courts, "is gained by their respectful use of their reason for being and their functionality in the democratic structure of a society."

The spokespersons for the citizen network have addressed the ETA prisoners imprisoned in Zaballa, Pamplona, ​​Martutene and Basauri, and those in "prisons located on French territory" who will keep their jobs "so that they can return home." "With the efforts of Basque society, we will open the doors of their cells, so that after decades of deprivation of liberty, they can join the task of rebuilding coexistence in our country," they said. They have also extended this message to "deported and exiled."

Finally, they have had a memory for "all the victims of all violence" and have denounced "those who permanently want to make political use of their pain." "We owe them respect, support, recognition, reparation and solidarity in their suffering. We want to tell them that in the process of rebuilding coexistence, they, too, are key to achieving solid peace," they said.

In addition, they have expressed their support to "the peacekeepers" Txetx Etcheverry and Bea Molle, arrested in the Luhuso police operation in 2016 for offering to ETA to mediate in the process of disarmament and destruction of weapons, and who will be tried in Paris on the 2nd and April 3.