Leil-Zahra Mortada

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Arkaitz Bellón: Murdered by the State

There are no natural deaths in prison, there is nothing natural about prisons. Death in custody is an assassination.

ArkaitzYesterday, Arkaitz Bellón, a 36-year-old Basque political prisoner, was “found dead” in his cell as came in a statement from the Spanish authorities). In their version “the prisoner was found without signs of life nor signs of external physical violence”. They stated that he was “alone in his cell” since he was being held in a maximum security prison.

Arkaitz Bellón was thrown in jail 13 years ago and was awaiting his scheduled release in May 2014, a bit over three months from now. He was sentenced to thirteen years under the allegations that he had participated in actions of Kale Borroka (literally translates into street fighting, a.k.a. rioting). Arkaitz and others were accused of destroying an ATM machine (yes ONE) and setting two (empty) buses and few garbage containers on fire.

Arkaitz, like most Basque prisoners in the Spanish State, suffered continuous physical and emotional violence. This past March (2013) he was the target of a beating by the prison guards in Sevilla where he was being held. Previously he denounced violent aggressions he suffered in the prison of Puerto III in 2010, and in the prison of Algeciras in 2008. Arkaitz, at the time of his death, was being held in Puerto I maximum security prison known for its very hostile authorities and conditions.

Arkaitz was held over 1000 kms from home, a policy of collective punishment commonly inflicted on Basque political prisoners and their families. Families have to endure long and exhausting trips crossing the state from far north to far south to visit their children. “Dispersion entails also difficulties for the right to defense  given that lawyers have to travel long distances that cause very important expenses for prisoners and their families. This families and friends have to cover an average 1.300 km once a week to see their incarcerated relatives, with an average monthly travel expenditure of 2.000€ (24.000 € per year). These long journeys entail also a high risk of traffic accidents. There have been over 400 accidents since the dispersion policy began, and 16 deaths were provoked” (source) 

Activism around the rights of Basque political prisoners is under continuos threats from the state. Harassment, detentions, terrorization.. etc. It is even illegal to publicly display photos of the prisoners. The mainstream media plays an important role in spreading fear and hatred against them thus giving the state apparatuses cover to operate with complete impunity.

Yesterday, February 5th 2014, Arkaitz´s life was put to an end. His support network from family, friends and lawyers are asking for a trust-worthy doctor to attend the autopsy. Whether Arkaitz was physically attacked to death or not, the responsibility of his death lays on the Spanish State and its forces. The past 13 years and the violent treatment Arkaitz was receiving are definitely a major contributor to his death. Of course we are still to wait and see the results of the autopsy and if a trusted doctor will be allowed to attend; but no matter what the result is, Arkaitz´s death cannot be of “natural causes”. There is nothing natural about prisons, there are no natural deaths in prisons.

The situation in the Spanish State keeps moving from bad to worse, under a suffocating economic crisis, a corrupt right-wing ruling party, a corrupt parasitic monarchy, and a constant crackdown on freedoms and rights – from the right to protest to the right of choice over one´s body (the anti-protest law, the anti-abortion law..etc). Arkaitz was killed in a country known for its aggravated human rights violations on so many levels: (to name but a few)

– political activists (arbitrary arrests, harassment, rape, torture, dispersion of prisoners, extreme sentences, fabricated accusations..etc);
– sex workers (read about continuous crackdown and stigmatization)
– immigrants (read about detention centers and the abuse/murder there, bladed fences on the borders, stigmatization and constant harassment);
– impoverished families and individuals (read about house evictions and mortgage catastrophes).

That same state that is known for its police violence and state terrorism under a cover of impunity and a shameful history of fabrications and lies (read about the 4F case and the recent murder of Raval resident Juan Andrés).

The Spanish Authorities did not quench their hatred by jailing a young man for 13 years. Torturing him was not enough. Imprisoning him hundreds of kilometers away from home was not enough. Collectively punishing him and his family and loved ones was not enough. Solitary confinement was not enough. Beatings in prison were not enough. Keeping him in the extremely hostile and harshly inhumane maximum security prison was not enough. Robbing so many precious years of his life was not enough, they had to rob him his life.

Arkaitz´s family, friends, and loved ones were counting the days till May 2014. A date they waited for for thirteen years. But the state´s sick script went beyond every imaginable ugliness. Their twisted reality surpassed everyone´s imagination. Three months before his release, after thirteen years in prison, for (allegedly) sabotaging an ATM machine and (allegedly) setting fire to two empty buses and some garbage containers…  Arkaitz Bellón was assassinated.

You have sowed so much rage, you have sowed so much hatred… much more than there ever was!

Ni olvido ni perdón (we won´t forget, we won´t forgive)

Down with all prisons! Down with the system!

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