A student at the University of the Basque Country (UPV) was beaten up last Friday by attackers who called him “español de mierda” (Spanish shithead).
Eye witnesses told the police that the attackers approached their victim outside the History School on the Vitoria campus, asked him whether he was a member of a student club that defends the unity of Spain, and began to kick and punch him.
If these acts have no place in society, it is particularly worrisome to see them happen inside a university
Ramiro González, Alava provincial authority
The victim was in hospital for five days and required reconstructive nose and cheek surgery. The Basque regional police, the Ertzaintza, is investigating the case.
The attack took place around 7pm on Friday, shortly after an event held inside the History School to protest the proliferation on campus of posters and public tributes to members of the terrorist group ETA, which announced its dissolution in May of this year after a 59-year campaign that killed over 800.
Acquaintances of the victim said that he is one of the founders of the association that organized the event. The student club was created “to defend the feelings of many students who feel both Basque and Spanish.”
This club has also criticized university officials for “looking the other way” while some groups organize ETA tributes.
In a release, UPV officials said that they “resolutely condemn the attack, express full support and solidarity with the affected individual, and wish him a speedy recovery. Violence has no place inside university or outside it.”
University sources said that in recent weeks they have detected increased tension among far-left groups who have multiplied their public exhibitions of radical symbols. A few students have started to react and to demand the same kind of space for their own views, said these sources.
Basque political parties have issued condemnations of their own. Vitoria Mayor Gorka Urtaran, of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), condemned the “brutal attack” and said that Vitoria, the de facto capital of the Basque Country, is a “plural and diverse city where there is no room for violence or for violations of human rights.”
The regional leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), Alfonso Alonso, supported the young man for “defending his ideas in the face of intolerance.” The head of the Álava provincial authority, Ramiro González, also of the PNV, said that “if these acts have no place in society, it is particularly worrisome to see them happen inside a university.”
The coordinator general of the far-left EH Bildu party, Arnaldo Otegi – who served time in the 1980s and 90s for participating in ETA activities – said that people who defend the unity of Spain “have the right to do so as long as they don’t use violence,” and added that “the most reactionary sectors of the (Spanish) State have an interest in this violence.”
English version by Susana Urra.