The Basques: Their Struggle for Independence

By Luis Núñez Astrain; Meic Stephens | Go to book overview
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Chapter 7


The intense but selective repression which goes on throughout the Basque Country is characteristic of the way the Spanish State is structured. It includes the illegal activity of torturing detainees, the policy of 'shoot to kill', the beating of prisoners, and various other para-police methods. All this goes on with the French State's connivance, whether discreet or brazen, depending on the climate of the day. If there were no repression of this kind, France and Spain would not be able to go on denying the Basque people's right to exist, nor would they be able to contain the dispute.

Shoot to kill

The Amnesty International report for the year 1993 ended on a note which links the question of torture with another method used by the Spanish police: it refers to 'the suspected murders carried out by the security forces in controversial circumstances or in circumstances that have not been properly investigated'. The suspected murders to which the report refers are the deaths of militants before they are apprehended. There have been many cases in which the police have killed militants when they should have confined themselves to arresting them without running any other risk. This is a practice commonly known as 'tirar a matar' (shoot to kill) or 'fusilamientos encubiertos' ('covert shootings'), which is just as illegal as torture but which nevertheless is quite common; it never leads to any official action on the part of the authorities. It is illegal but tolerated by those responsible for it.

The cases for which we have been able to gather details in recent years are as follows:

16.2.84 Barakaldo Iñaki Ojeda
22.3.84 Pasaia Pedro Mari Isart
22.3.84 Pasaia Rafael Delas


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