3 April 2003 Edition

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Mala Poist

In defence of our only free territory

A Chairde,

The great author Joseba Sarrionandia once wrote that the Basque language is our only free territory. Those who broke into Egunkaria's premises on 20 February and shut down the only all-Basque language newspaper did not only violate the right of freedom of expression. They also took an unprecedented step further in the Spanish "democratic" crusade against our only free territory.

The judge ordered the arrests of ten prominent Basque cultural figures and pressed charges of membership of ETA, on the basis of "conclusive" evidence such as a letter by an ETA member discussing the newspaper in 1990. But this judicial action is not about ETA.

Spanish attempts to wipe out Basque are ongoing in our recent history. Even after dictatorship, the government have passed legislation with the intention of curbing the use of Basque in public life and have sustained a defamatory campaign against the all-Basque schools and the language organization AEK, accusing them of indoctrinating their students with the nationalist left's ideology. No evidence has ever been presented.

Various nationalist left organisations and publications have been banned lately but Basque speakers thought an independent and pluralist media like Egunkaria was above the judiciary's and the cabinet's flimsy theory that everybody on the Basque nationalist side is related to ETA. No one expected the Spanish security forces to subject these ten Basque cultural figures to suffocation by plastic bags, continuous beatings, exhausting physical exercise, sleep deprivation and death threats. Torture is not uncommon for ETA suspects but one would have assumed the police would not dare treat some members of our intelligentsia in the same fashion.

Nevertheless, ever since the 1998 ETA ceasefire, Spanish nationalists have made every effort to dismantle the peace process and crack down every form of dissent. As the heart of our national identity, Basque has also become fair game.

Egunkaria has been the latest prey of this hunting party made up of the Spanish legislative, executive and judicial powers united. Our only consolation is the early publication of a new Basque newspaper and the massive response the closure has produced. Even moderate pro-Spanish Basques and mainstream politicians (eg. the former mayor of Barcelona) have reacted with concern.

Spanish right-wing nationalists must know they will never achieve what they could not achieve when they had the full repressive apparatus of Franco's dictatorship available to them. They may lie about us, pervert law, shut us down, torture us and jail us. But how are they going to silence those 90% of Basque children who have this year started school through all-Basque or bilingual options?

We, Basque language supporters, have to reflect on how to face the menace posed by this powerful enemy and agree on a strategy to make sure that our only free territory, the Basque language, remains free and can develop and prosper.

Koldo Larrea,

Conway Mill mural and céilí

A Chairde,

I wish to draw the following event to the attention of your readers, in particular past and present students of Conway Education Centre.

Conway Mill Enterprises has commissioned a mural depicting the life of people who have lived and continue to live in the environs of the Mill. The unveiling of the mural takes place on Friday 4 April. On the evening of the unveiling Conway Education Centre in conjunction with the Mill are putting on a céilí.

This is a chance for old and new friends to meet up and celebrate. So we want to encourage potential céilí goers to book your tickets (price £5 now with Brenda in Conway Education Centre on 90 248543 or email [email protected].

Conway Education Centre is marking 20 years of work in community education and development. We will be having a number of events throughout the year and hope that past, present and future students will join us. For a brochure on classes on offer in the Centre, contact Brenda.

Brenda Kelly

Ahern and Harney are traitors

A Chairde,

"Ireland affirms its devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality" and "Ireland affirms its adherence to the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination".

Above, I quote Article 29.1 and 29.2 of Bunreacht na h-Éireann, the Constitution that our Taoiseach, Tánaiste and government pledged to uphold, protect and defend when they were sworn into office.

Instead, they have shown utter contempt and disregard for the people's document through their involvement with the US/British military attacks on the Iraqi people.

These subversives should be immediately be charged with treason. In many other countries they would be ran out of office and stoned in the town square for treachery far less.

They are a disgrace and have brought dishonour and shame on all decent Irish people, but given their record, I doubt if they care less.

Cllr Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin,
Sinn Féin,
Cloich na Coillte,
Contae Chorcaí

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1