Petition for support: peace process in the Basque Country

Dear Friends,

We are writing to you from Elkarri, the Social Movement for Dialogue and Agreement in the Basque Country, in order to give you information and ask your organisation to support an initiative that promotes the respect for Human Rights in this part of Europe.

As you most probably know, the Basque society has been suffering the effects of a violent identity conflict for the past 30 years. There have been over 1,000 persons assessinated over this period of time and there are still thousands of people who live today under the threat of violence or are the victims of other types of attacks against Human Rights. Unfortunately, the lack of dialogue in the political realm makes the development of a real peace process impossible.

This is why Elkarri, as a social and independent movement, proposes working towards the transformation of the current conflict situation through the combination of various strategies: we strongly believe that we must keep involving the Basque society in the peace building efforts, while fostering dialogue between all political forces and collecting international support for these initiatives.

This is what Elkarri´s Peace Conference project for the Basque Country is all about. The initiative will be launched in April 2004 and already counts with the support of over 100,000 citizens. The Peace Conference´s first objective at the international level will be to promote an “International Support Network for a Peace Process in the Basque Country”. You will find additional information about the network and the motivations that underlay its creation in the document below.

Through this message we would like to ask your organisation to join this network, the only compromise being that of receiving occasional information about the progress of our initiative. Such a symbolic sign of support from an organisation working on peace and human rights as is your case, would mean a great help towards achieving our goals in the current circumstances.

We would also welcome any suggestions of other organisations or individuals we could contact for the same matter.

We thank you in advance for your time and consideration. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us or to consult our web page at http://www.elkarri.org to obtain any further information you might need.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Dominique S. Bouyssié
International Team, Elkarri


As a complementary element to the Peace Conference, Elkarri is promoting an “International Support Network for a peace process in the Basque Country”. This will consist of international organisations that wish to support a peace process for the Basque Country. Below is the manifesto for the constitution of this network. All the organisations that can identify with the manifesto and would like to become part of the network should formalise their adhesion by filling in their details on the document below and sending it to international@elkarri.org.

Once support for the network is formalised each person or organisation will then decide on its level of participation. The signature of the document (below) does not mean any commitment beyond symbolic support for the efforts towards peace and dialogue. Later, if the individuals or organisations that are part of the network wish to participate more actively they should contact Elkarri to discuss possible ways of co-operation.

“International Support Network for a peace process in the Basque Country”

1.- Presentation.

For the last few decades, Basque society has been affected by serious human rights abuse and a situation of lack of political normalisation. The priority is, therefore, to stop all attempts to kill people. The reasons for this are of an ethical, moral, social, political and democratic character. Basque society does not accept the violence of ETA, and it wishes to solve its problems in a peaceful, political and democratic manner. When expressing such ideas, our motivation stems from active solidarity with all victims and it intends to contribute towards the end of all suffering.

2.- The right to a peace process.

As representatives of organisations that carry out their activities in favour of human rights in various places around the world, we understand that experiences based on dialogue, in spite of their complexity, are essential for TH non-violent transformation of conflicts. Basque society, like all human communities in the planet that are living through similar situations, has the right to experience a peace process. To achieve this objective the priority is to create a space for dialogue without exclusions as this is the main democratic instrument at our disposal to overcome this stage of the conflict.

3.- International contributions.

Experience has taught us that societies in conflict can benefit, in a meaningful manner, from the intervention of the international community. In any case, a hypothetical participation of this type in the Basque conflict has nothing to do with taking part in the definition of solutions. The objective of such an intervention would be to contribute to the promotion, defence and guarantee of democratic mechanisms of dialogue and respect for human rights.

4.- Respect for pluralism.

We also have to express our concern for the judicial and political measures recently taken that negatively affect basic democratic rights and principles, such as the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of association and political participation. We are also concerned for the special legislation enacted for people under custody or in prison.

5.- Support for the Peace Conference

For all these motives, we wish to express our support for the various efforts carried out for peace and respect of human rights that have emerged from within the Basque society, and we specifically express our support for the Peace Conference Project promoted by Elkarri.

Basing our action on these principles, the members of this network take up the commitment to:

a. - Keep each other informed about new developments and disseminate, in the international level, any news on efforts for peace in the Basque Country. This International Network wishes to have a first-hand knowledge of the opinions and initiatives from all these organisations that work for a peaceful transformation of the current situation from the perspective of an in-depth respect for the various opinions and identity feelings.

b. - Send any opinions, commentaries and suggestions on the Peace Conference to Elkarri.

c. - Study other forms of participation that are more concrete, individualised and adapted to the needs of the Peace Conference.

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März 2004

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