action against itoiz dam in the hague this morning
Tue, 20 Jun 2000

For Immediate Release

International Protest Against Itoiz Dam in Navarra
protesters build wall in door of Spanish Embassy, The Hague.

At 6:00 this morning, June 20 2000, a group of about 30 people constructed a wall of bricks in the door of the Spanish Embassy in The Hague, The Netherlands in protest against the building of the Itoiz Dam in the Basque Country of Spain. This action took place in response to the court case against two women activists who managed to stop the illegal building of the Dam for some time in 1998.

On the night of September 21 1998, these two women sabotaged 54 machines used for road building supporting Dam construction. Insisting on being accountable for their actions, the women gave themselves up freely to police the next day. Their court case however, did not take place until May 8 this year.

The Navarran Government has demanded a three-year prison sentence plus payment of large fines for both women. The final outcome of the court's decision is expected at any moment. The solidarity action today at the Spanish Embassy in The Hague was conceived to symbolically demonstrate what it is like to have an unwanted dam in front of your house. Two protesters climbed the balcony and hung a banner with the text: S.O.S. ITOIZ! The activists demanded that the Spanish Ambassador publicly disclose the real reason behind the construction of the Itoiz Dam, declared illegal by the Spanish courts for years and to ask why peaceful protest against illegal projects such as that of the two women, receive such extreme punishment.

Its construction will flood a 35km long (1.100 hectare) valley in the Basque Country. Not only is this valley an environmentally sensitive area, it also contains nine villages that will all disappear under water. Contrary to Government statements, the Itoiz Dam will not produce much extra electricity and no serious plans for irrigation exist. Geologists also have doubts about the safety of the Dam due to the instability of the surrounding slope. The Dam has become a prestige project of the Navarran Government and is riddled with corruption, nepotism and bribery.

Although people have been peacefully protesting against its construction since 1985, building of the Itoiz Dam went ahead in 1994. It was then that the group, Solidari@s con Itoiz started a campaign of non-violent direct action to stop this illegal construction. The best known of these fully accountable actions took place in 1996 in which eight people sawed through cables above the Dam used to transport cement and other building materials. After giving themselves up, these eight activists were seriously beaten and have each received prison sentences of five years. There have been several non-violent direct actions since this time. The action of the two women being highlighted today is one of the most significant.

Today's action in front of the Spanish Embassy takes place on the heels of the recent Solidari@s con Itoiz Tour of Europe in which they drew international attention to the struggle against the Itoiz Dam and the severity of the punishments given to their non-violent actions. The most notable action of this Tour took place in The Hague during the opening session of the World Water Forum (March 16 2000), in which they asked all present to focus attention on the enormous problems inherent in large dam construction projects not only in the Basque Country, but around the world.

Stop the Dam, Save the Valley!

For more detailed information during and after the action: 06-23390616 (Spanish and English) or 06-24400453 (Dutch). Background information about the Itoiz Dam, the group Solidari@s con Itoiz and the court case against the two women who sabotaged machinery may be found at: High quality digital pictures will also be available on this site immediately following the action today.

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