3 January 1998

To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Banned video "Democratic Alternative" now online
From: SPG <tank@xs4all.nl>
Date: 02 Jan 1998 13:26:31 +0100

The "Democratic Alternative for the Basque Country" video (banned in Spain)
is now available in RealVideo format thanks to Contrast.Org.  You can watch or
download the video from the Euskal Herria Journal "mirror" sites:


Leaders of Herri Batasuna in Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa were jailed on
Friday to begin serving their seven year prison sentences for having
disseminated ETA's peace proposal, the Democratic Alternative.

On December 1, 1997, Spain's Supreme Court convicted the entire
leadership of Herri Batasuna of "collaborating with an armed group"
and sentenced them to seven years each in prison for attempting to
show a video (The Democratic Alternative), a proposal for cease-fire
and peace from the Basque armed organization ETA during an election
campaign broadcast last year.

The court failed to prove the participation of each of the 23
politicians in the decision to broadcast the video and thus, it
violates the principle of the presumption of innocence.

The judges considered that a crime was committed when in fact the
video had never been broadcasted. Moreover, the judges applied
Franco's Penal Code, which declared the crime of "collaborating with
an armed band" as any type of collaboration with the activities and
goals of an armed group. It thus criminalizes the role of intermediary
in disseminatiing negotiating positions or peace proposals in a bitter
and long standing conflict. 

When Herri Batasuna first showed the video in public meetings in early
1996, Spain's National Court (Franco's Tribunal of Public Order
renamed) banned the video. The then Socialist government--more than 14
of whose police and senior government officials and a Civil Guard
general have been formally charged for their involvement in the
creation, funding, and activities of the death squads that killed at
least 28 suspected Basque activists in the mid 1980s--instructed the
attorney general to investigate whether Herri Batasuna should be
outlawed. Herri Batasuna then attempted to use segments of the ETA
video to disseminate the peace proposal in their election campaign but
its broadcast was banned. In May 1996, the Socialist lost the general
elections to the Partido Popular (Popular Party, founded by Franco's
Minister of Interior). 

In January 1997, Spain's Supreme Court decided to prosecute the 23
leaders of Herri Batasuna. Over 30,000 people rallied in February in
the Basque city of Bilbo to protest the prosecution of the Herri
Batasuna leadership. The demonstration, which was initially peaceful,
turned into a violent confrontation when the police opened fire with
live ammunition, wounding several people. In June, an International
Commission for Freedom of Expression presented the Manifesto to the
Public Opinion and the International Community in support of free
speech and opposition to the trial against Herri Batasuna. The
president of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, and other distinguished
individuals are among the 700 signatories who endorsed the Manifesto.

International observers from human rights organizations in eleven
countries watching the proceedings issued a joint statement saying
that the accused were given the burden of proof which "violates the
fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence."

Basque political parties have strongly criticized the sentences,
saying that the trial was politically motivated and dashed hopes for a
peace dialogue.

Herri Batasuna attorneys said that nothing had been proven and that
the trial was intended to outlaw a political party which represents
much of the vote of the Basque people. They will appeal the sentence.