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Basque Prisoners On Hunger Strike

On January 31, 1993, five Basque political prisoners in the Spanish prison of Caceres-2 began a hunger strike protesting their abysmal conditions of confinement. They have presented prison officials with a list of 22 demands, all of them relating to their living conditions. After the first ten days, the prisoners had already lost between 14 and 18 pounds and had begun to suffer minor health problems.

The prisoners have denounced the hostile and contemptuous attitude of the prison administration. An attitude which translates into a total abdication of responsibilities on the part of the prison's medical staff. Among other things they criticized the fact that on the first day of the strike medical staff did not conduct a physical exam, which is necessary to measure the effects of the strike on each prisoner. Yet on that same day prison officials forced one of the prisoners to remain in his cell together with a tray of food.

They have reported threats and insults by prison officials. Medical staff have taken their pulses without instruments and ignored their complaints.

The list of demands include: a monthly phone call with the right to speak in Basque; monthly visits; a daily 10 minute shower; regrouping of the four prisoners together in one unit; an end to censorship and mail limits; delivery of newspapers and publications; an end to strip searches and abuses of authority by guards; that they be present during cell searches and their property be respected; that lights remain on longer or light switches be placed in the cells. As we go to press we don't know the outcome of the strike. Basque political prisoners, over 600 in Spain alone, are subjected to harsh conditions of confinement because of their political views. In response to this they have maintained a long struggle for better conditions and against the more abusive aspects of the prison regime.

-UPA, Spain, Feb. 11, 1993

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