6 January 2005 Edition
I was tortured
Complaints of torture of Basque political detainees have been a constant feature of the conflict but have heightened in recent times. The following graphic account of arrest and torture at the hands of the Spanish Guardia Civil was given by Basque activist Amaia Urizar De Paz
I was arrested on Friday 29 October at 3am, while I was in my parents' home. My parents were in when I was arrested. They banged on the door as they shouted they were the Guardia Civil and they demanded we opened the door. This made me scared and nervous so I ran to my parents' bedroom, seeking refuge.
My mother opened the door and many Guardia Civil barged into the house, aiming their guns everywhere and asking for me. I realised there was no way out and my heart sank. I came out and told them I was Amaia.
They sat me down on a chair by the door and a woman Guardia Civil told me I was being arrested for co-operating with ETA.
As soon as we arrived in Guardia Civil quarters in Madrid and before we got out of the car they covered my eyes with a mask. The one that had talked to me during the journey said "we have arrived, whore, and you still haven't said anything", while he left me in the hands of other Guardia Civil. These ones, among which there was a woman, took me to a bathroom at the bottom of a flight of stairs; they told me to strip and stand under a shower there. They soaked me with cold water and then gave me back my knickers and bra.
About ten minutes after they had put me in the cell they knocked on the door. He jumped on me, threw me on the bed and grabbed my arms tightly. I started shouting at him to leave me alone and they shouted at me "shut up, bitch!" They were masked and the one who'd been in the car had his trousers and underpants down and he was coming towards me, laughing and saying "we're going to fuck the boss's girlfriend". He jumped on me and rubbed his body against mine. I could feel his penis between my legs; I was crying and kept trying to get him off me, while they shouted they were going to rape me, all shouting and laughing, saying they were next. They continued with this for quite a while and I was completely lost, because that was only the beginning and they had five days to do whatever they wanted with me. I was completely terrified; I was alone in their hands. When they left my body hurt all over; I felt very weak and couldn't stop crying; I was soaked, lying in a corner with a blanket over me.
I don't know how long it was until they knocked on the door again."Get up bitch, this is for real now, get in your position!" I did so and the door opened, they were laughing and they blindfolded me. They took me out of the cell, handcuffed and with my head down. They would shout at me and insult me, "whore, bitch, liar", and they placed a bag over my head while they pulled it tight at the back. At the beginning I felt hot, my face was covered in sweat; I tried to move when the bag covered my mouth, I couldn't breathe and I would begin to feel dizzy. I would manage to rip the bag with my teeth and then, when I could breathe again, they would smack my ears with the palms of their hands. My head was spinning,
I don't know how many times they did the bag to me during that first torture session.
When I was in the cell, since I felt very cold, I'd cover myself with one of the blankets there. I only had my knickers and bra on.
I don't know how long it was until they came to get me again, but they knocked on the door all the time, the peephole was open, so I could never relax.
Then one of them grabbed my body and another grabbed my hair and they stuck my head into a bath, roughly, so that my chest hit the edge of the bath: I felt I was drowning, I tried to pull out, with my legs, sideways, but I couldn't. They kept putting my head under the water over and over. I thought I was going to die. I agreed to what they said and said I would sign whatever they said, so they took me back to the cell. I wasn't even fit to walk.
He said he was going to tell me what I was to repeat. He said I'd better memorise it all well.
I was sure my torturers were listening to my statement. Everything was in the statement, even things I'd forgotten to say.
They told me to stand up and blindfolded me again while they said they were taking me to the forensic doctor. The first thing he asked me was whether I had suffered ill treatment and I answered that I hadn't. I told him to have a look at my eyes, because my left eye was swollen and red. He said it had probably become infected when they did the bath. I couldn't believe it, first he asks if I'd suffered ill treatment and then he tells me about the bath.
I spent quite a long time in the cell while they switched the light on and off and banged the door.
I was made to sit down on a chair. My arms were tied to the back of the chair and they tied my ankles to the legs of the chair with some sort of manacles made out of rope. He started shouting at me "fucking bitch, you haven't learned anything during the last days and now you're going to learn!" He lifted the blindfold up a bit and showed me a gun. He put the gun between my legs and pulled my knickers aside with his hand; I kept screaming at him to leave me in peace, but he began beating my ears with his hands while he shouted at me to stay still or he might shoot me by mistake because it was loaded.
"So you do like this, whore? You are never going to have a son of a bitch because I'm going to shoot you."
They were all laughing; one of them held me by my neck while the other put the barrel of the gun in and out of my vagina and grabbed my breasts very violently. I could feel the cold metal inside me and they kept saying it was loaded and it would be my fault if it went off. They took me upstairs for the statement. They went over it many times. I had to repeat it all over and over and, if I made any mistakes, they would start beating me on my ears again and telling me they were going to rape me.
They told me I had to ratify my previous statements in front of the judge; otherwise I knew what to expect, and not to say anything about the torture if I didn't want to be taken back to that place.
He said this and left. Then they put me in the van and removed the blindfold; they were taking me to the Audiencia Nacional. I began to cry, I was finally leaving hell.