At the end of their six week freedom march, Basque nationalists gathered is Pamplona on Sunday (28 August) for their biggest authorised rally since the Spanish Civil war forty years ago.
At the end of their six week freedom march, Basque nationalists gathered is Pamplona on Sunday (28 August) for their biggest authorised rally since the Spanish Civil war forty years ago. At the gathering, forty thousand Basques shouted slogans for autonomy and political freedom.
SYNOPSIS: The Basque marchers wanted to bring their demonstration through the centre of Pamplona. But fears of right wing violence caused provincial authorities to say no. Instead they were directed to an open field four miles (6.5 km) away. The march aroused strong feelings in Pamplona which is only partially Basque in language and culture. On Saturday (27 August) as the marchers were beginning to gather, a molotov cocktail was thrown at a bank, and a bomb at a nearby town was defused by police. The march began July 10 with demonstrators setting out from various areas in the Basque strongholds of northern Spain.
Rain soaked but smiling, columns of marchers made their way to an already densely packed field between three steep hills, which served as a natural amphitheatre. Thousand of other supporters were kept away by delays at police checkpoints and traffic jans outside Pamplona. The marchers waved hundreds of Basque flags and shouted slogans of the Basque guerrilla organisation, ETA.
In between the continuous chanting, speakers including former exiles, called for amnesty for all political crimes and for the release of the Basque guerrilla leader Miguel Apalategui, who is facing extradition from France in connection with a political murder earlier this year. The former exiles were greeted with a standing ovation.
After the rally, several thousand of the marchers tried another attempt at entering Pamplona. Spanish Civil Guards fired rubber bullets and smoke bombs, but after the first barrage, the marchers turned away and dispersed.