Batasuna hits out at ban on Spanish separatist parties
11 February 2008 BAYONNE - Spain's main Basque separatist party Batasuna accused the authorities on Saturday of riding roughshod over people's rights by ruling two Basque parties out of upcoming polls.
"This decision, which is aimed at parties supported by thousands of Basques, is of extreme seriousness," Xabi Larralde, spokesman for Batasuna, banned by Madrid since 2003, told a press conference in southwestern France.
He accused the Spanish authorities of "trampling on the basic rights" of the Basques after the judiciary on Friday barred candidates from the Communist Party of Basque Lands (PCTV) and the Basque Nationalist Action (ANV).
As well as ending their candidacy in the 9 March legislative elections, the judiciary suspended the finances of both parties but stopped short of approving a request by state lawyers to suspend all their activities.
Spain’s top anti-terror judge, Baltasar Garzon, moved against the two parties arguing that they were fronts for Batasuna, which is banned for its ties with the armed Basque separatist movement ETA.
Batasuna is seen as ETA’s political wing and refuses to condemn the movements deadly campaign for a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France that has killed more than 800 people.
Larralde said the ANV was a "historic patriotic movement" whose supporters "had spilled their blood in fighting Francoism and Nazism."
He accused Spanish and French authorities of working together "to eradicate all expression of Basque independence from the political scene," and "render impossible the resolution of the Basque conflict by democratic means."
Since it was outlawed, Batasuna has turned to little-known parties like ANV and PCTV to field candidates that back Basque independence in elections.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero last month authorised legal action against the two parties to prevent them from taking part in the upcoming general election.
Batasuna and ETA are considered terrorist organisations by the European Union and the United States.
Since ETA called off a ceasefire in June 2007, Zapatero has taken a harder line against both of them. In a series of raids since October police have arrested leading members of Batasuna and staged regular round-ups of suspected members of the party, holding 17 people.
[Copyright AFP 2008]
Subject: Spanish news