Thousands in Spain rally for ETA victims

Thousands in Spain rally for ETA victims

Thousands in Spain rally for ETA victims

A Spanish woman cries as she takes part in a demonstration in Madrid. REUTERS photo.

Thousands of people demonstrated in Madrid on Oct. 29 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, recognizing 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.

Meanwhile, jailed ETA leader said Spain’s demands for the armed group ETA to disband are “immature.”, Arnaldo Otegi said in a letter that Spain’s reaction to ETA’s announcement simply reflects the country’s insecurity. Otegi was sentenced to 10 years for trying to reform ETA’s banned political wing, Batasuna. ETA is considered a terrorist organization by Spain, the EU and the United States. ETA is accused of killing 829 people in attacks including bombings and shootings since its founding in 1959. Meanwhile, a man suspected of being a member of the ETA is in preventive custody in Belgium, the prosecutor in charge of anti-terrorism said Oct. 29. A Spanish police source identified the suspect as Ventura Tome Queiruga.

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.