Brussels, 24th March 2015

Brussels, 24th March 2015
Five years ago the Basque independence movement began an unprecedented and far
reaching debate. That debate concluded with an unequivocal commitment to an exclusively
peaceful and democratic pursuit of self-determination for the Basque Country. The movement
renounced the use of violence and committed to the goal of ending the long and violent conflict by
means of dialogue.
In October of 2011, ETA responded to a call from the Aiete International Peace Conference by
declaring a definitive end to its 50 years of armed activity, and opening a process of dialogue. Nobel
Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu called Arnaldo Otegi, ex spokesperson of Batasuna and now
Secretary General of the political party Sortu, “the leader of the peace process”. Otegi was the prime
mover pressing the independence movement to embrace argument and the power of word as the
only means to resolve all conflict.
Unfortunately the Spanish government responded to Otegi's efforts by arresting him in
October 2009. He was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for membership of the political
party, Batasuna, which had been banned by the Spanish government. Since then, despite the end of
ETA's armed activity - including their demonstrated commitment to disarmament, dialogue and
reconciliation, including recognition of the suffering of all victims – there is still an absence of any
positive response from the Spanish State.
Arnaldo Otegi, whose case has been raised to the European Court of Human Rights, is being
held in a Spanish prison far away from his family and friends. The same are the cases of some 500
other Basque prisoners related to this conflict.
They are deliberately dispersed, often in solitary confinement, and all are in prisons long
distances from the Basque Country. A reality that brings and added punishment to their families,
doomed to travel long distances to visit their loved ones.
We, therefore, call for the immediate release of Arnaldo Otegi, a man who took risks for
peace and democracy and who tirelessly persuaded many others to believe in the power of word
alone as the mean of resolving this conflict. His release and the end of the dispersal policy, prior to
an agreed early release process, are necessary steps to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.
For humanity. For justice. Because we believe in a solution without winners and losers.
Because we believe in peace.
Because of all this, we ask to Free of Arnaldo Otegi and to bring Basque Political prisoners
home to the Basque Country.
José “Pepe” Mujica, Montevideo, 1935.
Senator and former President of Uruguay. Pepe Mujica is member of
MPP and Uruguay´s Frente Amplio, he was a member of the guerrila
movement MLN-T and was imprisoned for 13 years in very tough
Fernando Lugo, San Solano, 1951.
Senator and former President of Paraguay. Fernando Lugo is a now
laicized catolic bishop. He was destituted through a legal proceding
that has been deemed a Coup d'Etat.
José Manuel Zelaya, Catacamas, 1952.
President of Honduras from 2006 to 2009, he was ousted in the 2009
Coup d'état. He is currently a member in the Central American
Lucía Topolansky, Montevideo, 1944.
Senator. Lucía has been acting President on a number of occasions, due
to her role as leader of the Senate's main political force. She is member
of MPP and Uruguay´s Frente Amplio, she was a member of the MLNT and was imprisoned 12 years. She is candidate to become
Montevideo´s Mayor in the May 2015 elections.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Klerksdorp, 1931.
Desmond Tutu encouraged nonviolent resistance to the apartheid
regime, and advocated an economic boycott of the country, he was
jailed briefly in 1980 after a protest march. He was awarded a Nobel
Peace Prize for his work and was later appointed as Chairman of South
Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission by then President
Nelson Mandela.
Mairead Maguire, Belfast, 1944.
Mairead cofounded the Women for Peace, which later became the
Community for Peace People, an organisation dedicated to encouraging
a peaceful resolution of the Troubles in Ireland, she was awarded the
Peace Nobel for her work, as well as the Norwegian People's Peace
Prize, Carl von Ossietzky Medal and the Pacem in Terris award.
Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Buenos Aires, 1931.
Adolfo was secretary-general of Servicio Paz y Justicia (Peace and
Justice Service or SERPAJ) a group that coordinates nonviolent
movements in the region. In 1977, he himself was “disappeared” and
was imprisoned and tortured by the Argentinean military for 14
months. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his
leadership for human rights and true democracy for the people of Latin
Ahmed Kathrada, Schweizer-Reneke, 1929.
Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada was one of the leaders of the non-racial,
anti-apartheid struggle. Alongside Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela,
he spent almost three decades in prison, most of them on Robben
Island. When he was released, he launched the Release Mandela
Campaign. He is a retired Member of Parliament, and served as
President Mandela’s Parliamentary Counsellor during Mandela’s term
of office.
Angela Davis, Birmingham, Alabama, 1944.
Angela Davis is a retired professor at the University of California,
Santa Cruz. She was a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had
close relations with the Black Panther Party. Her party membership led
to Ronald Reagan's request in 1969 to have her barred from teaching at
any university in the State of California. The "Free Angela Davis, Free
all political prisoners" campaign was launched after she was
imprisoned for the Marin County courthouse incident.
Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, Mexico City, 1934.
Cuauhtémoc is the former Head of Government of the Federal District
(He was the first to be democratically elected), founder of the Party of
the Democratic Revolution, he has stood three times as presidential
candidate and is an Honorary President of the Socialist International.
Gerry Adams, Belfast, 1948.
President of Sinn Féin and TD for Louth. Gerry Adams was part of the
Sinn Féin negotiation team for the Good Friday Agreement. He is a
ormer republican prisoner, he was interned in 1972 and imprisoned
again in 1973 in Long Kesh.
Leyla Zana, Silvan, Diyarbakır Province, 1961.
She was the first Kurdish woman to become Member of the Turkish
Parliament. She was imprisoned for 10 years, she was awarded the
Rafto Prize, and was awarded the Sakharov Prize by the European
parliament. She also won the Bruno Kreisky Award.
Leila Khaled, Haifa, 1944.
Leila Khaled is Member of the Palestinian National Council and the
PFLP. Part of the Palestine Liberation Organization she is a well known
Palestinian activist. She lives in Amman.
Ken Livingstone, Lambeth, London, 1945.
He is a former Member of Parliament and has held twice the leading
political role in London local government (as the Leader of the Greater
London Council and as 1st Mayor) Livingstone has strongly supported
republicanism, LGBT rights and a United Ireland as well as being
clearly opposed to war.
Nora Morales de Cortiñas, Buenos Aires, 1930.
Nora is a cofounder of Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, she is the president
of Madres de la Plaza de Mayo Linea Fundadora and a recognised
activist for Human Rights, as such she has received several honoris
causa degrees.
Reverend Harold Good, Derry, 1937.
President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, he was one of two
independent witnesses, the other being Father Alec Reid, who oversaw
the decommissioning of arms, a vital part of the peace process in the
north of Ireland.
Helmuth Markov, Leipzig, 1952.
Former MEP, Helmuth Markov is Minister of Justice and Europe and
Consumer Protection, as well as Deputy Prime Minister in the state of
Slavoj Žižek, Ljubljana, 1949.
Slavoj is a senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and
Philosophy, University of Ljubljana, Global Distinguished Professor of
German at New York University, and international director of the
Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.
Tariq Ali, Lahore, 1943.
Tariq is a writer and filmmaker. He has written more than two dozen
books on world history and politics, and seven novels, as well as scripts
for the stage and screen. He is an editor of New Left Review, and
activist from a young age, he was elected president of the Oxford Union
in 1965 and became publicly known for his opposition to the Vietnam
Pierre Galand, Uccle, Brussels, 1940.
Defender of human rights and a fierce opponent to political
imprisonment and torture as well as former Senator, Mr Galand is the
president of the World Organisation against torture OMCT-Europe, the
Belgian, Palestinian and Sahraouian solidarity associations and the
Forum Nord Sud and member of other associations and grass root
Gershon Baskin, ‫גרשון בסקין‬, New York, 1956.
Gershon is the founder and Co-Chairman of IPCRI (Israel/Palestine
Center for Research and Information) dedicated to the resolution of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is also a member of Israeli Palestinian
Peace NGO Forum, and of the Israeli Board of One Voice
Movement. He has been awarded the Histadrut Prize for Peace, and
the Tribute of Honor and Courage from the World Movement for
João Pedro Stédile, Lagoa Vermelha, 1953.
National coordinator of the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem
Terra (MST). He is firm defender of the agrarian reform in Brasil.
Carmen Lira, Mexico City, 1942.
Carmen is the editor of La Jornada, the Mexican Newspaper and
Professor in UNAM. Carmen Lira was a war correspondent in
Nicaragua and foreign correspondent in Washington DC and China.
Fermin Muguruza, Irun, 1963.
Fermin is a Basque musician, singer, songwriter, producer and
documentary filmmaker. Fermin Muguruza has been involved in
different cultural and musical projects.