5,379 cases of torture in the Basque Country according to official figures

There has been massive, systematic torture in our country

Those appearing here today bear living witness as people who have suffered torture at first hand at different times in our recent history. We are the torture victims of Euskadi, the Basque Country. And with this appearance we want to make public the following assessment.

A week ago, the Basque Criminology Institute submitted its report on torture to the government of Navarra. This report provided the appalling figure of 1,068 cases of torture in the period from 1960 to 2018. In its report presented in 2017 in the Basque autonomous region of Spain, the Basque Criminology Institute unearthed 4,311 cases of torture in the provinces of Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa. The two reports together paint a grim picture of these two traditionally Basque-speaking parts of Spain since 1960: 5,379 cases of torture according to official figures.

However, we know that this does not cover all the real cases. As the report drawn up in Nafarroa Garaia, or Navarra, says, further research is recommended, and we know new cases of torture will come to light, just as the follow-up to the report in the Basque autonomous region revealed more cases in recent years. We are talking about an appalling figure for a small country like ours, one that shows that torture has been practised massively and systematically in the Basque Country. But torture is a reality that goes beyond the numbers. The wound shown by the cases or the figures is deeper, and the political, social, cultural and human consequences are still not fully understood.

These unknown consequences are the evidence of a reality they tried to cover up, a practice that has been carried out with total impunity, with the collaboration of police forces, judges, forensic doctors, politicians and the media. Over six decades, the Spanish state has used torture in the context of the Basque political conflict. In different political circumstances, the Spanish state has used the civil guard, the national police and the Basque police to torture political activists in the Basque Country, and there are people responsible for all this. Too many people responsible who have acted with impunity, and still too much silence.

While these two reports bear the official seal, the path to recognition and reparation for the people who have been tortured is still full of gaps, of voids that are still too painful. An example of this is the lack of follow-up in this respect on the report in the Basque autonomous region, as if it were a reality they wish to conceal by putting in a drawer, or the fact that the report on Navarra in the 1979-2015 period has been delayed for several years because of the many obstacles thrown up to making it public.

We are therefore calling on the governments and institutional leaders of the autonomous regions of Navarra and the Basque Country to take into consideration the cases of torture officially unearthed by the Basque Criminology Institute. So that the reality of torture can emerge from the shadows into the light, we ask for commitments and solid steps to pursue the path to social, political and institutional recognition and reparation of the victims of torture, and therefore also call for mechanisms to be put in place to ensure that it cannot happen again. To reveal the full scale of the torture committed in our country.

February 11, 2023, in Intxaurrondo.