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Solidarity conference for political prisoners in the Basque Country

23. April 2004

20-23 May 2004

20 – 23 MAY 2004

Following our note of February 28, here is the document explaining the main ideas around the “INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON POLITICAL PRISONERS”

These are the main aims of the conference:

1.- To renew the concepts we use when referring to the conflict, which are rather outdated.

2.- to inform society about the prisoners´ situation and to create solidarity mechanisms.

3.- to adequately place the nature and living conditions of political prisoners in an international framework.

4.- To find out about political conflicts in other countries and their consequences and to spread this knowledge in the Basque Country.

The International Conference on Political Prisoners will work on the following main points:

It is increasingly clear that Basque society lives in a conflict situation. It is essential to correctly analyse the factors that generate the conflict, if there is a true will to solve it.

All of us, having been people imprisoned for political reasons, know that the Basque political prisoner community suffers the political conflict in a special way. Both the Spanish and French states cruelly maintain the Community´s suffering, violating the prisoners´ basic rights and creating an obstacle in the way of any form of solidarity towards them.

This subjugation implies a very clear reading: the intent to destroy this nation´s proven capacity to resist. Therefore, they intend to assimilate our country. We understand this is the first key to the analysis of the conflict: both the Spanish and French states, each one in their own way, wish to assimilate the Basque Country; they wish to deny the nationhood of the Basque Country.

The opressor states often attempt to modify reality. In order to do so, they place historical memory out of reality. What for? So as to hide the fact that they are those truly responsible for the conflict and make people believe that it is they who suffer due to the conflict (pretending to be the victims of the conflict)

Nevertheless, there is something that we would like to make very clear, in any conflict there are necessarily two sides; the one that creates the conflict, i.e. the side that denies rights on one hand, and the side that suffers the conflict, i.e. those who demand respect for their identity and their rights.

This country has been suffering this kind of opression for years. The most flagrant expression of this situation is undoubtedly the Basque political prisoner community. The States present themselves as guarantors of rights in order to cover their policy of revenge against the Basque prisoners, completely manipulating the nature and origin of the conflict. In other words, they attempt to make us believe that they are democratic states and that those who fight for the rights of oppressed countries are terrorists.
The Basque political prisoner community pays a heavy price for struggling in favour of the rights of the Basque Country. Today, political prisoners are still being denied that very struggle.

The concepts have been distorted to such an extent that currently the main efforts by nominal democracies are directed towards making the terms `democracy´ and `human rights´ synonimous. They make no efforts towards actually RESPECTING HUMAN RIGHTS and their priorities lie with merely formally ratifying human rights declarations.

In our case, those who violate both collective and individual human rights the worst, the Spanish and French srtates, attempt to legitimise their oppressive strategy and using all the repressive masures they can against anyone who attempts to change the legal and political framework they have imposed, calling fighters terrorists and placing them onder the weight of the most cruel repression and denial of rights.

Therefore, through this conference, we wish to analyse and foster mechanisms for solidarity towards political prisoners. In order to do so we need to know about the situation of political prisoners within the international framework, we need to know the repression they suffer, to exchange knowledge with their representatives and to analyse solidarity instruments that will allow us to move forward.

States do not wish to even admit the existence of political prisoners. Nevertheless we can see, through the special treatment the Basque prisoner community suffers on a daily basis, that there is an implicit recognition of these prisoners´ political nature. We believe that society must demand the explicit recognition of the existence of the Basque political prisoner community, in other words, the recognoition of political prisoners as a consequence of a political conflict.

Society must not forget that political prisoners are active agents within this political conflict. This is undeniable and it is related to the right of citizens to become politically organised. Since people who are in jail for political reasons, are in that situation due to a political conflict, they must also be able to take part in whichever political and social processes take place in society. Because their situation is a result of the parameters of the conflict, the Basque political prisoner Community shall be a political agent that cannot be ignored in any conflict resolution process.

We want the demant for a total amnesty to be alive on the streets. But we must say that we cannot understand this Amnesty to be a simple return of the prisoners back home, rather, it must go beyond and overcome the political reasons that gave rise to the existence of political prisoners.

And finally,

In order to adequately define and publicise the existence of the conflict, we believe the strenghtening of politically understood solidarity to be essential. Having understood the effectiveness of the media in this sphere, we believe we need to request the following from the media:

1.- That they hold a critical stance towards the official version given by the spheres of power.

2.- That they explain the bases and consequences of the conflict as they truly are, so that citizens´ opinions about the conflict are correctly informed.

We shall further more specific information about the organisation details of the Conference in coming weeks.


Thursday, 20

10.00 – 14.00: inscription and accreditations
13.30: Lunch
17.30: Opening Introduction
…· Basque Country in images
…· Opening speech by a spokesperson of the organizing committee.
…· Greeting by the Basque political prisoners collective
…· Political prisoners in the world in pictures
…· Introductory speech to the Conference
…· Exhibition of Basque culture

20.30: Dinner
21.30: Different delegations introduced during the dinner.

Friday, 21

9.30: Debating workshops (first part)
…· Testimonies
…· Context and fight
…· Conflict and rights. Rights and conflict.

11.00: Rest period
11.30: Debating workshops (second part)
…· Testimonies
…· Context and fight
…· Conflict and rights. Rights and conflict.
13.30: Lunch
16.00: Assembly of the Day. Idea-sharing session of the debating workshops and public contributions.
19.00: Public conference
20.30: Dinner
21.30: Concert.

Saturday, 22

9.30: Debating workshops (first part)
…· Political nature of the prisoners. Political subject.
…· Political nature and the situation of the prisons.
…· Solidarity and total amnesty.

11.00: Rest period.
11.30: Debating workshops (second part)
…· Political nature of the prisoners. Political subject.
…· Political nature and the situation of the prisons.
…· Solidarity and total amnesty

13.30: Lunch
16:00: Assembly of the Day. Idea-sharing session of the debating workshops and public contributions.
19.00: Public conference.
20.30: Dinner.

Sunday, 23

9.30: General assembly:
…· Debate and approval of the conclusions of the conference.
…· Approval of the resolutions.
…· Closing speech.
…· Cultural act.

13.00: Demonstration in Donostia. (San Sebastian)
14.00: Manifesto´s reading at the end of the demonstration.
14.30: Lunch
16.00: Multicultural activities.