Thousands rally for Spain's ETA victims

29th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Thousands of people demonstrated in Madrid Saturday calling for justice for victims of the Basque separatist group ETA, which last week declared an end to more than 40 years of deadly attacks.

Yelling "Murderers!" and "Justice!" emotional protesters in a sea of red and yellow Spanish flags railed against the armed group's failure to formally give up its arms.

ETA last week declared a "definitive" end to its armed activity following a four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings in its quest for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwest France.

"They did not say what we all want to hear," Teresa Jimenez Becerril, a European Parliament member whose brother was killed by ETA in 1998, told the crowd.

"That ETA is surrendering without conditions, disbanding, giving up its arms, recognising the suffering caused and saying sorry to all the victims and all Spaniards."

In its declaration last week, ETA paid tribute to its 700 jailed members and called on the Spanish and French governments to hold talks with it.

Neither government responded to that call. Spain's centre-left government welcomed the declaration but said it will not soften its stance on ETA before a general election scheduled for November 20.

ETA is accused of killing 829 people in attacks including bombings and shootings since its founding in 1959. It is listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.

Several thousands of protestors filled Madrid's Plaza de le Republica Dominicana square, site of one of ETA's deadliest attacks which killed 12 police in July 1986. No official turnout figure was available.

"We have all come to support the victims and show that a large number of Spaniards are united against the atrocities that the terrorist group ETA has committed," Armando Rodriguez, 22, told AFP.

"We Spaniards are all victims."

© 2011 AFP

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