Iñaki Kijera Zelarain

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Iñaki Kijera Zelarain (Donostia, Basque Country, 30 April 1961-Donostia, Basque Country, 1 September 1979) was shot dead by a member of the Spanish National Police in a demonstration in favor of Basque political prisoners and refugees. He was 18 when killed, and was living with his parents in the Antiguo district.

Political context[edit]

Four years after the death of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, the Spanish State was still in great turmoil. Repressed groups, ideologies and nationalities saw a chance to express their opinions and wishes. A new Constitution was formed in 1978. This Constitution allowed for the possibility of autonomy for different territories, like the Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country on 25 October 1979.

It was a year of unrest. The attacks against Basque political refugees in Northern Basque Country (which was under French administration), and the French Police Forces' repression made things more difficult for Basque leftist nationalists. Demonstrators used hunger strikes and other protests to denounce the situation, and drew attention to the political status of Basque prisoners and refugees, namely in: Hendaia, Hazparne, Gasteiz, Bilbao, Durango, Donostia, and Iruñea.

That same year, France refused to acknowledge Basque refugees as political refugees, arguing that Spain was already a democracy. To protest against this, refugees began a hunger strike in several Northern Basque Country provinces, under the slogan "Euskadin bizi nahi dugu", "We want to live in Euskadi". In Southern Basque Country, solidarity was shown in different ways: politicians closed themselves up in administrative buildings, citizens went on hunger strikes, and started several demonstrations. Some of these demonstrations would become especially bloody.

1 September 1979 demonstration in Donostia[edit]

On 31 August 1979, more than forty politicians of different political parties (HB, EE, LKI, PTE and EMK-OIC[clarification needed]) closed themselves up in the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa in favor of Basque political refugee's rights. The next day, Committees in Favor of Amnesty ("Amnistiaren Aldeko Batzordeak") called for a demonstration to be held on September 1, in the four Southern Basque Country capitals. Joaquin Argote, the Civil Governor of Gipuzkoa, banned Donostia's demonstration. Forces of Public Order took control of the city on 1 September, in order to prevent any demonstration attempts.

However, approximately 2000 people showed up and joined with those closed up in the Provincial Councils of Gipuzkoa and Donostia (who were tied to each other as a sign of protest). They started a demonstration on the street and the Spanish National Police responded with violence.

Murder of Iñaki Kijera[edit]

Iñaki Kijera took part in the demonstration with his friends. When the Spanish National Police scattered the demonstrators, he hid in Old Town. As the police took the street where he was located, he attempted to reach the gardens of Alderdi Eder and was shot by an officer from approximately 10 meters. The bullet hit him in the right side and exited his back. He laid on the pavement for 15 minutes at the rear of the City Council. Others who tried to approach him where stopped by the police who beat and shot rubber bullets at them. A doctor and a nurse from the Red Cross attempted to aid Iñaki. Police initially also hit the Red Cross workers. After some fighting, they were able to put Iñaki in a private car after dodging rubber bullets. The wounded man was transferred to an ambulance and taken to a hospital, where he later died.

There were other injuries in the same demonstration. La Vanguardia newspaper named Jon Artola Lopez, Javier Atorrasagasti and two elected officials of the town of Oiartzun, among the injured.

Afterwards[edit]

Next day was trawler race day in Donostia, but it was cancelled, and mayor Jose Maria Alkain (PNV) declared the day an official day of mourning.

The following Monday, a general strike in Southern Basque Country paralized Gipuzkoa. Gas stations where shut down, and radio stations broadcast classical music all day. In Donostia, just a few grocery stores where open, and even those closed at noon. There were no taxis or buses on the streets. Forces of Public Order went from one side of the city to another, and found neighborhood entrances blocked by barricades.

Iñaki Kijera was buried in Polloe cemetery, and funeral rituals were held in Antigua district's "San Sebastian Martir" church. 10,000 people assembled and made way to Donostia's downtown area. Once again, the police charged and scattered the demonstrators using violence. Uprisings took place all through the city. As a result, there were more injured and arrested demonstrators.

The general strike continued on Bizkaia, Nafarroa and Araba.

See also[edit]