2 July 2010
Ógra at Basque youth rally in Brussels
ÓGRA Shinn Féin activists David Collins and Evan Maxwell represented the republican youth organisation at a mass rally in Brussels, the hub of the European Union, on May 29th in support of the Basque youth movement.
They were campaigning against the repression of their peaceful political work by the Spanish and French states.
Last November, 34 youths were arrested in the Basque Country. Since that time, all but two have been sent to prison; all of those arrested suffered torture. It is not without irony that the demonstration calling for the right to be able to organise and engage in politics, free from threats and oppression, were met with further acts of harassment and intimidation by the security forces of the Spanish.
En route to Brussels, at the border between the French and Spanish states, the occupants of each bus-load of activists were removed, and, one-by-one, individually photographed. Despite this, an impressive turn-out marched through the streets of the Belgian capital and assembled by the square of the country’s National Museum, where speeches were delivered by Basque youth activists.
David Collins, on behalf of Ógra Shinn Fein, reaffirmed Ógra’s solidarity with the youth movement and voiced support for the three demands being asked of the Spanish and French governments:
1. All political projects must have the same opportunities. All young people around the world have the right to organise and take part in politics and shouldn’t be threatened or oppressed for doing so. Thus, we ask the Spanish and French states to end the attacks against the Basque youth.
2. We call on the Spanish state to end torture and its policy of impunity for torturers. We ask the Spanish Government to implement the anti-torture measures recommended by many different international human rights organisations.
3. We ask the Spanish and French states to take commitments towards a political and democratic resolution of the Basque conflict. We call on them to respect the Basque people’s say and decision and for an end to their current war strategy.
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An initiative for dialogue
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Contributions from key figures in the churches, academia and wider civic society as well as senior republican figures