Zapatero to meet terror victims after ETA protest
6 June 2005, MADRID — The Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is to meet the leaders of groups representing victims of terrorism after a huge protest march against plans for talks with the armed Basque separatist group ETA.
6 June 2005
MADRID — The Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is to meet the leaders of groups representing victims of terrorism after a huge protest march against plans for talks with the armed Basque separatist group ETA.
The demonstration in Madrid on Saturday, called by the Association of Victims of Terrorism, drew about 850,000 people, according to the Madrid police, while organisers said the participation was more than a million.
The peaceful march began at the Lopez de Hoyos intersection, where in 1993 an ETA attack killed seven people.
The marchers headed for the Republica Dominicana plaza, the site of another ETA attack in 1986 that killed 12 civil guard police officers.
Some of the demonstrators carried photographs of the more than 800 people killed in ETA's four-decade campaign to win an independent Basque homeland straddling the Pyrenes in northern Spain and southwestern France.
They chanted "Spain!" the marchers carried Spanish and Basque flags and signs reading "Not in my name."
The Socialist government of prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero wants to start a dialogue if ETA disarms and renounces violence, a policy which parliament backed for the first time last month.
Zapatero has repeatedly told the group it must disband.
Members of Spain's opposition Popular Party took part in the protest, including the conservatives' current leader Mariano Rajoy and former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar.
In 1995, Aznar escaped unharmed from an ETA assassination attempt.
"The immense majority does not want anyone to give away our liberty," Aznar said.
Hours before the march, the Popular Party called on Zapatero to "listen to the victims" and "return to an anti-terrorism policy".
The march has divided opinion among Spanish victims' organisations along political lines.
The 11 March Association representing victims killed in last year's Madrid train bombings said it would not attend — feelings still run high after the former PP government blamed ETA for the blasts, now assumed to be the work of Islamic extremists.
But anti-ETA body Basta Ya (Enough Already) said it backed the event, while denouncing an "aggressive and inquisitorial campaign" against its founder, the philospher Fernando Savater, who opposed the march.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news