12 January 2014 Edition
Supporting Basque prisoners
This is funded by the European United Left/ Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)
On the path to peace, prisoners’ human rights must be respected
I SIGNED a letter with other human rights minded MEPs at the end of 2013 in support of the developing peace process in the Basque Country. In October 2006, the EU Parliament adopted a resolution supporting efforts to solve this political conflict. Martin Schulz MEP declared during the debate:
“The road towards dialogue is the only way we can bring an end to this spiral of violence.”
Republicans have long recognised the centrality of dialogue to laying the foundations for a peace process but for it to succeed it must be inclusive of all participants of the conflict.
As with building peace in Ireland, building peace in the Basque Country contributes to stability in Europe. Therefore it is incumbent on MEPs to play our part in the resolution of the ongoing conflict within EU borders.
In October 2011, Kofi Annan, Bertie Ahern, Gro Harlem Brutland, Jonathan Powell, Gerry Adams and Pierre Joxe attended the International Conference in San Sebastian to promote the resolution of the conflict in the Basque Country.
On behalf of the broader international community they presented a road map for the resolution of the conflict. ETA responded to this call three days later by declaring the end to its armed campaign. Since then, this road map has received the support of many, including Jimmy Carter, Ban Ki-moon, Bill Clinton, scores of MEPs, former MEPs, MPs from different European national parliaments, as well as 13 former South American Presidents.
These recommendations called on the Spanish and French governments to play an active and positive role in the peace process. Unfortunately, this has yet to happen.
I welcome the 21 October 2013 decision by the European Court of Human Rights on the extended detention of Basque political prisoners leading to serious breaches of fundamental human rights. The ruling found the Spanish authorities (through the so-called ‘Parot Doctrine’) kept over 50 Basque political prisoners in detention despite the fact that they should have been released years ago.
The compliance of the Spanish judiciary with the ruling and the subsequent release of the prisoners was a victory for human rights, presenting an opportunity to progress towards conflict resolution.
The end of the policy of dispersion, facilitating prisoner transfer to prisons close to their families, and the immediate release of seriously-ill prisoners should be the natural progression of this human rights based approach.
The determination of all who seek a peaceful future should be the construction of a political space for dialogue and an end to draconian policing and judicial measures as the option of first resort.
It is time to build peace in the Basque Country based on human rights, justice and truth. On the path to peace, prisoners’ human rights must be respected.