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Adams calls for release of Batasuna Leaders

13 November, 2009 - by Pat Sheehan, Westminster

Recent events in the Basque country and the Spanish state have included ongoing acts of violence causing death, abuses of human rights and the arrest of leading Basque political activists including Batasuna leaders Arnaldo Otegi and Rufi Etxeberria. Otegi and four others arrested at the same time remain in custody. Etxeberria and the other four were released on bail. Both men have made important statements on the current political situation in the past week.

Commenting on all of this Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said;

“The ongoing violence, deaths, human rights abuses and arrests will not bring about a resolution of the conflict in the Basque country. But fivty years of conflict indicate that this scenario could continue indefinitely into the future.

“The only victory attainable for the Madrid Government and Basque nationalists is the achievement of a framework and process in which political differences can be addressed and dealt with by purely political means.

“The recent arrest of Arnaldo Otegi and his colleagues is in my view an obstacle to that goal. I have known Arnaldo Otegi for some years now. I believe him to be a peacemaker. I believe that view is shared by the many thousands of protestors, of differing political allegiances, who publicly demonstrated against his arrest. I believe that recent public positions set out by Otegi and Rufi Etxeberria are positive indicators of a willingness to pursue and confront all of the challenges and difficulties inherent in building and developing a peace process. And this is never going to be easy.

“I am therefore calling for the unconditional release of Arnaldo Otegi and his colleagues to allow them to pursue this important task. They must be given the space to develop the substance of the ‘new phase, new strategies and new instruments’ to achieve ‘a new framework in the Basque activists’ country’. Protagonists on both sides have to create that space. But especially Basque independentists who should do this - and understand that they are doing it - for themselves, the Basque people, and for their objectives as opposed to doing it for Madrid.

“Given that space the groundswell of popular Basque opinion in support of Otegi points to the vehicle for future forward movement.” ENDS

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