7 December 2012

Extradited to Spain for Defending Basque Rights

Free Aurore Martin!

We reprint below a November 2 leaflet by the Comité de Défense Sociale (CDDS)—a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization associated with the Ligue Trotskyste de France, section of the International Communist League. It was distributed in French and Spanish at a 15,000-strong demonstration on November 10 in Bayonne, in the French Basque country, protesting the extradition of Aurore Martin to Spain. Martin was arrested on the grounds that she had attended several meetings of the pro-Basque independence organization Batasuna, even though this organization is not illegal in France. Her arrest was made possible by a European Union (EU) agreement that introduced the so-called European Arrest Warrant. Under this agreement, any EU member state must arrest and extradite to the requesting EU state anybody deemed by the latter to be a criminal suspect.

The CDDS condemns the extradition by the French state of Aurore Martin to Spain, where she faces up to 12 years in prison. Just days before Martin’s detention yesterday, two other Basque activists, Izaskun Lesaka and Joseba Iturbe, were arrested near Lyon in a joint operation by the RAID [elite French cop unit] and the Spanish Guardia Civil. Both Lesaka and Iturbe are suspected of belonging to the ETA pro-Basque independence group, and Lesaka is purported to be one of three activists who in October 2011 read out the ETA statement that it was definitively renouncing armed struggle.

The French and Spanish capitalist states have no intention of dropping their bloody vendetta against the Basque nationalists, despite ETA’s renouncing armed struggle. The Basques, as well as other national minorities such as the Catalans and the Corsicans, along with the Muslim population, are used by the French and Spanish bourgeoisies as all-purpose scapegoats. As the worst economic crisis in decades rages, this serves to divide and weaken the working class in order to push through the bosses’ renewed austerity attacks as well as to justify the raft of new laws increasing state repression, which are also ultimately aimed at workers struggling against capitalist oppression. This is not to mention the opaque maneuvers and rivalries at play around the European Union, in which the lives of militants are cynically traded as bargaining chips for imperialist interests. The Aurore Martin case and the European Arrest Warrant vividly show how the EU, insofar as it is “united” at all, is united over the oppression of minorities and the workers movement. Down with the EU!

Already this year, the total number of arrests of alleged ETA members stands at 24. Sixteen of those took place in France, three in Spain and five in other countries. We demand that all charges be dropped immediately against Aurore Martin, Izaskun Lesaka and Joseba Iturbe and that they be immediately released from the clutches of the French and Spanish states. We also demand that the hundreds of other Basque nationalist activists jailed in French and Spanish prisons be freed!

Aurore Martin Extradition: Valls Finishes Job Begun by Sarkozy and Guéant

Back in October 2010, a European Arrest Warrant was issued by the Spanish government against the French Basque activist Aurore Martin, demanding her extradition on the basis of alleged “participation in a terrorist organization.” The “evidence” cited is that she attended six public meetings of Batasuna in 2006 and 2007—four in Spain and two in France. The Batasuna party, outlawed in Spain, is a perfectly legal party in France. Aurore Martin is also accused of writing an article for the (legal) Basque newspaper Gara and of having dealings with the Basque Lands Communist Party (EHAK), which was outlawed in Spain in 2008. There is not even the slightest attempt by the French or Spanish government to produce evidence linking Aurore Martin to any armed activity; this French citizen was extradited by France’s top cop, Manuel Valls, and is today imprisoned in a Spanish jail solely because of her opinions and political solidarity with the cause of Basque independence. Her extradition, based on no tangible evidence, provoked outrage against Valls from practically all National Assembly members from the Basque country, even the most “republican” among them.

When an arrest warrant was issued against Aurore Martin in 2010, she went into hiding. But six months later, in early June 2011, she decided to “lead a normal public life again” and attended a public meeting in Biarritz on the subject of the European Arrest Warrant. Days later, on June 21, [then-president Nicolas] Sarkozy’s minister of the police, Claude Guéant, sent in his cops to arrest her in Bayonne. But they were literally pushed back by the activists and local people, and Aurore Martin eluded arrest. At the time, Guéant stated that France would do its “duty” and that her extradition would be carried out. However, after a 3,000-strong march in Bayonne demanding that her arrest warrant be lifted, there was no further attempt by the French government to arrest her. That is, until Valls and the popular-front government under [Socialist president François] Hollande stepped in to finish the job. In a recent interview in El País, Valls praised the “exemplary” cooperation between the French and Spanish governments and declared that the French government would “help Spain 100 percent” in pursuing the fight against ETA “with full firmness.”

The arrest and extradition of Aurore Martin are very much in line with the sinister crusade against the Basque nationalists carried out by the Socialist predecessors of Valls and Hollande. As we wrote in a short statement denouncing the European Arrest Warrant against Aurore Martin back in March 2011: “We denounce the police cooperation between France and Spain, which, starting with the GAL [“Anti-Terrorist Liberation Groups”] state terrorists under [French president François] Mitterrand and the Spanish Socialist Workers Party government of Felipe González in the 1980s and continuing up to today, has cost the lives of dozens of people and led to the arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of activists.” The workers movement must protest the extradition of Aurore Martin! For the right of self-determination of the Basque people, south and north of the Pyrenees! Down with the European Arrest Warrant! Down with the capitalist European Union!

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1014, 7 December 2012)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.