In Spain clashes between demonstrators and security forces have resulted in four deaths -- after a week-long campaign for the release of Basque political prisoners.
In Spain clashes between demonstrators and security forces have resulted in four deaths -- after a week-long campaign for the release of Basque political prisoners. Since last Thursday (12 May) two men have been shot dead and two more have died from injuries sustained during confrontations with police and para-military civil guards. About 15 people are reported to have been seriously injured.
SYNOPSIS: Although the Basque cities of Bilbao and San Sebastian were reported tense but calm on Monday (16 May), on Sunday (15 May) demonstrators in Bilbao defied a police ban on marches and threw up barricades in the streets and across a railway line. There were also clashes in other Basque towns and cities -- Pamplona, Guernica and Ortuela -- and the whole region has been disrupted by strikes.
The demonstrators are demanding a total amnesty for Basque political prisoners, 286 prisoners were released under a wide ranging amnesty decreed last March by King Juan Carlos, but 27 Basques are still in jail. As the campaign intensified Bilbao was ringed by police roadblocks and all Basque non-residents were turned away.
Inside the city heavy concentrations of security forces were on patrol -- and as police vehicles approached groups of demonstrators most of them split up and ran. But for the ones who were caught there was no mercy.
The main Basque political groups have warned the government to expect a boycott of the 25th of June general elections and a renewal of an "armed offensive" unless all political prisoners are released by the 24th of May.
In Madrid demonstrators supporting the Basque cause also took to the streets on Sunday and the parents of the remaining Basque political prisoners chained themselves to the railings of a Madrid church. Police fired smoke bombs and used their batons to move on groups of sympathisers and according to basque sources seven people were arrested. Each side has blamed the other for the violence.