Thousands march in favor of Sortu as Spanish State Attorney asks for the party to be made illegal

10:57, February 20, 2011      

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Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Spanish city Bilbao Saturday demanding that the political party "Sortu" be made legal.

The march in favor of Sortu comes just 24 hours after the Spanish State Attorney's Office published a report asking for the party to be made illegal as they believe it is merely a continuation of the group Batasuna.

Batasuna has long been considered to be the political wing of the terrorist group ETA, which is responsible for 829 deaths in a 45 year struggle for the independence of the Basque region in the north of Spain.

ETA announced a "permanent and verifiable" ceasefire on January 10 this year.

Saturday's march was held under the banner, "Towards Peace, Towards Legalization." It was participated by members of the new party, as well as members of Euskal Alkartasuna, which is another Basque nationalist party.

The march, which took place with no incidents, ended with the reading of a communique which said the party, "would not accept no for an answer."

"Peace and Democracy, with capital letters, need the efforts of everyone. The echo of the plural and active silence of the thousands of people who have come here today has to reverberate where it is needed: at the moment in the Spanish Government, the State Attorney and the Supreme Court."

The more conservative Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) has given its support to the legalization of Sortu, but did not officially participate in the match, although PNV's founder Xavier Arzalluz was present.

Batasuna was made illegal in 2003 because of its refusal to condemn political violence, but at the party's unveiling in Bilbao on February 8, Sortu made a radical change from Batasuna's former stance, demanding an "end to all violence, including that of ETA."

Sortu's statutes, which are currently being analyzed by the Spanish Supreme Court, also discount any kinds of violence.

Despite that major difference, the Spanish State Attorney's office said on Friday that it would ask the country's Supreme Court to announce the new party illegal.

Should the Supreme Court accept that point of view, Sortu would not be able to present candidates at the local and regional elections to be held in Spain on May 22.

Source: Xinhua
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