The General Assembly of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, at its 17th Congress in Hanoi, Vietnam:
NOTES with grave disquiet the repressive policies of the Spanish government towards Basque activists, including members of the IADL’s European regional association, the ELDH.
RECALLS that Batasuna, the Basque pro-independence political party, was outlawed in 2003.
CONSIDERS that the most recent elections, held on 1 March 2009, were far from free or democratic. Some 20% of the Basque electorate were disenfranchised when the Supreme Court banned two more parties, Democracy 3 Million and Askatasuna (Freedom), from standing candidates.
NOTES FURTHER that on 23 March 2009, the Spanish investigating judge Baltasar Garzon, who is waging a crusade against Basque nationalism, filed “terrorism”‘ charges against 44 pro-independence activists. The activists are alleged to be members of banned parties, including Batasuna, the Communist Party of the Basque Lands (PCTV) and Basque Nationalist Action (ANV). Among those charged is the Mayor of the famous town of Mondragon in Gipuzkoa province, Maria Inocencia Galparsoro.
RECALLS that Martin Scheinin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism, said in his Report of 16 December 2008 that he was “troubled” by Spain’s Law of Political Parties, which provides the legislative basis to ban political organisations. He said it defined “terrorism” so vaguely that it “might be interpreted to include any political party which through peaceful political means seeks similar political objectives” as those pursued by armed organisations.
CONSIDERING that, despite many violations of human rights, the UK government never sought to ban Sinn Fein, and that a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Northern Ireland was achieved when talks were held with democratically elected Sinn Fein members of the UK Parliament.
NOW THEREFORE This General Assembly resolves:
(1) to condemn the practice of the Spanish government in banning all political parties which support Basque nationalism or socialism in the Basque Country;
(2) to condemn the extension of the definition of “terrorist” in Spain to include those who advocate any support for policies – for example Basque independence or socialism in the Basque country – shared by organisations such as ETA which engage in violence, even where those accused of such “terrorism” condemn the use of violent force;
(3) to express its solidarity with the many Basque activists and representatives against whom there is no evidence of use of or support for violence, but who are now prosecuted in Spain for terrorist offences;
(4) to support the Haldane Society and ELDH delegation to Spain to investigate these issues.
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