An estimated forty thousand Basque Nationalists have attended a rally near the northern Spanish city of Pamplona (28 August).
An estimated forty thousand Basque Nationalists have attended a rally near the northern Spanish city of Pamplona (28 August). Their attempt to hold the rally in Pamplona itself was prevented by paramilitary civil guards, who fired rubber bullets and smoke bombs to drive them off as they tried to advance on the city. The Basques were meeting to mark the end of a fifty day march backing demands for regional autonomy and a total political amnesty.
Earlier in the week, there were sporadic clashes in San Sebastian between riot police and demonstrators protesting the arrest in France of alleged Basque guerrilla leader Miguel Angel Apalategui, who is wanted in Spain to answer murder and kidnapping charges.
SYNOPSIS: The marchers had set out from various areas in the Basque strongholds of northern Spain on July the tenth. There was noticeable local opposition against any rally in Pamplona -- a local newspaper published a war veterans' association statement which called the march "an invasion".
While the thousands made their way to Pamplona, ultra righting leaflets condemning them were scattered in the city's streets. Faced with the possibility of bloody fighting in the streets, the local governor banned the marchers from Pamplona itself. He told them to assemble and hold their rally in a field about five kilometres away. Police later detonated small bomb found near the rally site. But that didn't dampen the marchers' determination.
The arrest in France of a basque wanted in Spain to answer murder and kidnap charges added to the tension.