12 February 2009 Edition

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Mála Poist

Cuireann An Phoblacht fáilte roimh litreacha ónár léitheoirí. Scríobh i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla, 200 focal ar a méid. Déantar giorrú ar litreachta más gá. Cuir do litir chuig [email protected]
An Phoblacht welcomes readers’ letters. Write in Irish or English, 200 words maximum. Letters may be edited for brevity. Send your letters to [email protected] No attachments please


Repression of Basque independence movement

I am a Basque and I might be contaminated. The Spanish authorities haven’t yet named the virus but myself and another 84 Basque citizens are under strict surveillance in case we have it.
On the 1 March elections will take place in the Basque country and we are all on the list of candidates for the Askatasuna party.
But the Spanish government has decided that we cannot take part in these elections because of that nameless virus.
We have been accused, as many people before us, of helping a terrorist organisation. The reasoning is that we are nationalist.
The ‘evidence’ consists of taking part in pro-independence rallies, visiting or writing to friends in jail or even socialising in the same bars as known pro-independence militants.
I am not a member of ETA but because of this ‘evidence’ I might be considered one soon or at least a collaborator. Today there are over 700 Basque prisoners in Spanish and French jails – all of them under imprisoned under similar allegations. The truth is that most of them have never seen a gun except for movies on TV or maybe in the hands of a heavily armed police officer at a checkpoint.
The Spanish state has launched a new inquisition because it knows that the Basque pro-independence movement is strong in political debate and its position is clear and democratic. They have seen how big Sinn Féin has become in the decade since the Good Friday Agreement. They know the risks of letting Basques decide their own future by peaceful and democratic means.
So they chose war. They use the police and special courts, ban political parties and close newspapers.
But the pro-independence movement wants to move forward. It does not want war.  We look on with envy to Ireland, Scotland, Greenland and other countries that have democratically decided to take their future into their own hands. We don’t want to impose our views on anyone. We just want the right to defend our political project and to be assured that whatever road the Basque people decide to take it will be respected.
Irish republicans have long been great friends of the Basque Country. Once again we cry for help.  In 2009 we face an attempt an inquisition to exterminate the pro-independence movement. One way we can stop this is with the aid and solidarity of the international community.
I hope one day we can work in our cities, towns and villages freely for the Basque independent socialist republic. That is our goal.  And while we recognise it might take years to become a reality it needs to be the Basque people who decide their own future, peacefully, democratically and free from outside interference.  Our day will come too.
Basque political activist
(named withheld for security reasons)


Pete Doherty on the Late Late

THE Late Late Show has become a dustbin for the dregs of society. The latest to be pulled from the celebrity slurry pit, was Pete Doherty – front man for cocaine, heroin, and whatever illegal substance he is capable of injecting into his wretched body – to be gawked at by an audience who were not sure exactly what he was supposed to represent, apart from one girl with a very embarrassed looking boyfriend beside her who could not contain her excitement. Watching Doherty’s attempt to remain coherent was like taking directions from a drunk.  The hygiene of the man was disgusting – long dirty fingernails and teeth that would make a dentist puke. He was obviously used to being surrounded and babysat by yes men or women because he was very uncomfortable with having to answer awkward questions about his noxious nocturnal drug habits.
Pete Doherty appears to be a role model for gullible teenagers, as was clearly demonstrated by the yelper in the audience.
It annoys me no end to know that I and every other TV licence payer in the country has contributed indirectly to his drug taking. I’m assuming that he was well paid by RTE for his appearance, which is a shame.
We have people who have and are in the process of carrying out voluntary work of all descriptions throughout the country and never court publicity. Wouldn’t it be nice to see someone more deserving like this getting a little recognition for their work, rather than a selfish, egotistical imbecile like Pete Doherty.
J Woods,
Gort an choirce,
Dun na nGall


Torture and the US

When President Obama recently declared that ‘the United States will not torture’, many people wrongly believed that he would shut the practice down, when in fact it has merely been repositioned.
Obama’s Executive Order bans some, not all, US officials from torturing but it does not ban any of them, himself included, from sponsoring torture overseas.  Indeed, his policy change affects only a slight percentage of US-culpable tortures and could be completely consistent with an increase in US-backed torture worldwide.
The catch lies in the fact that since Vietnam, when US forces often tortured directly, the US has mainly seen its torture done for it by proxy; paying, arming, training and guiding foreigners doing it, but usually being careful to keep Americans at least one discreet step removed. That is, the US tended to do it that way until Bush and Cheney changed protocol and had many Americans laying on hands and sometimes taking digital photos.
For every torment inflicted directly by the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and the secret prisons, there were many times more being meted out by US-sponsored foreign forces. Those forces were and are operating with US military, intelligence, financial or other backing in Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Jordan, Indonesia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Colombia, Nigeria, and the Philippines, not to mention the tortures sans-American-hands by the US-backed Iraqis and Afghans.
What the Obama dictum ostensibly knocks off is that small percentage of torture now done by Americans while retaining the overwhelming bulk of the system’s torture, which is done by foreigners under US patronage.  Obama could stop backing foreign forces that torture but has chosen not to do so.
County Mayo.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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