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The Basque newspaper Egunkaria closed down by the Spanish government

To this legal and police repression, once again we have to add the one directed from the Spanish media. The right-wing paper El Mundo in his front-page headlines presented the news as "the detention of Egunkaria's dome (leadership)?, a term only used to refer to terrorist groups? leaderships. This is the way they mislead information - a paper which links is work to the progressist The Guardian. (see what Giles Tremlett says tomorrow!). For the afternoon, El Mundo had changed its headlines on its web-page.

It's always very serious whenever a newspaper is closed down by a government as the media is vehicle of expression; and freedom of expression is one of the fundamental rights of any so-called democracy. In this case, the accusations against Euskaldunon Egunkaria are not related to its content, but once again, this paper like Egin before, Ardibeltza and like many organisms and projects, is linked to ETA by the Spanish government.

No matter the new Parties Law banning the Basque separatist party Euskal Herritarrok: the Spanish government of Jose Maria Aznar through his faithful judge Garzon continues applying the 19/98 summary. This summary started in 1998 and which has seen nine different organizations intervened and 200 people arrested and imprisoned and aimed to end with any support ETA could have in the population.

The targeted groups were: the Basque language teaching AEK, the paper and radio Egin, the magazine Ardibeltza, the social-political organizations Ekin, Joxemi Zumalabe, ABK and Bai Euskal Herriari , the Basque books and records distributors Zabaltzen, the youth organization Haika and again its successor Segi, the Basque prisoner support organization Askatasuna (Gestoras pro-Amnistía), the party Batasuna and now the paper Euskaldunon Egunkaria.

Euskaldunon Egunkaria was funded in 1990 as the only newspaper in the Basque country printed entirely in the Basque Country and continuist of recent weeklies like Hemen and Gaur , or Eguna (1937). In a country where education and literacy were restricted to Spanish and French and where the culture struggles with a market where the production of French and Spanish magazines, newspapers and books is so massive, Egunkaria's project was pretentious indeed.

To this we have to add the continued refusal of the Spanish government to support projects of this kind and the sabotage of the regional Basque government aiming to produce their own paper - something which never happened. But once again, Basques determination to keep their culture and language alive showed its power and more than twelve years after this paper consolidated -still in a survivalist way. The ! project had to be started by a group of 70 people and by raising between them 150 m pesetas (nearly £ 6m ) selling shares and with fund-raisers. The initial readership was just 11.200 becoming 44.000 by 1996 (we lack updated figures).

To think that this paper with such a small readership and budget would fund ETA or anything else is laughable. To think that this paper was used by ETA to transmit its program is laughable too as it has demonstrated to be really independent. But in the new PP's democracy, anyone by being Basque can be accused of supporting ETA or Euskal Herritarrok, the political party also banned by the Spanish government. This latest violation of democratic right is an evidence of the fast grow of fascism within the Spanish government.

A similar action against this paper and its current director Martxelo Otamendi happened last year whan the government try to prosecute both him and Gara's director Mertxe Aizpurua for an interview held by both with two ETA members. Both where called to declare in Madrid's high court. The ignorance of the Spanish government and lack of respect for any initiative to keep alive the Basque language is demonstrated once and again when the government banned the school books published in Basque by saying that their content is against the curriculum, and recently attacking the children Basque magazine Kil! i-kili.