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    Women speak alongside a mural depicting imprisoned armed Basque group ETA members, under which reads We Want Them Home, in the Basque town of Hernani, Spain March 31, 2017.

    ETA Basque Terrorists Announce Disarmament

    © REUTERS / Vincent West
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    The Basque militant group ETA has announced that they intend to disarm on Saturday 8th April. ETA terrorists killed more than 800 people and wounded thousands more in northern Spain and southern France in a bid for an independent Basque state. However, the group has warned that its enemies may still block the process.

    In a letter dated 7th April, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna — or ETA — whose name stands for "Basque Homeland and Freedom," declared that "after giving up all its weaponry (arms and explosives) to Basque civil society representatives [ETA] now is a disarmed organization."

    If true, it would amount to a significant turning point in a civil struggle that has stretched back more than 40 years.

    The group first emerged in the 1960s as a resistance movement opposing General Franco's repressive military dictatorship, which attempted to repress local Basque culture and traditions. The Basque language was banned and dissenters imprisoned and tortured.

    Demonstrators hold a banner featuring a painting of Pablo Picaso's The Guernica (back) and a cut-out of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco (C), during a protest against the Spanish government's new anti-protest security law in Barcelona December 20, 2014.
    © REUTERS / Gustau Nacarino
    Demonstrators hold a banner featuring a painting of Pablo Picaso's "The Guernica" (back) and a cut-out of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco (C), during a protest against the Spanish government's new anti-protest security law in Barcelona December 20, 2014.

    After the death of General Franco in 1975, Spain's Basque country was granted more autonomy than any other Spanish region, with its own police force and parliament in control of taxes and education.

    However, ETA continued to push for an independent Basque state for the seven regions in northern Spain and southern France that Basque separatists claim as their own.

    More than 820 people have been killed in a bloody terror campaign, including police and politicians, with thousands wounded.

    The high body count and bitterness that has been entrenched in the political dispute for so many years has made diplomatic progress difficult to achieve.

    The Spanish government refuses to negotiate with ETA, and both France and Spain have arresting hundreds of militants in recent years, including key leadership figures.

    A municipal worker paints over graffiti reading ETA, The People Are With You in the Basque town of Guernica, Spain.
    © REUTERS / Vincent West
    A municipal worker paints over graffiti reading "ETA, The People Are With You" in the Basque town of Guernica, Spain.

    The news that ETA intends to disarm has been met with a mix of wariness and outright suspicion in some parts of Spain.

    ETA has declared at least two ceasefires before, but abandoned both.

    And some victims are calling on the Spanish government to ensure that ETA atrocities do not go unpunished.

    One local politician, and member of the Basque Parliament, Gorka Maneiro Labayen, tweeted:

    "ETA returns to demonstrate that it is garbage. You did not take up arms to defend the people but to kill us and end our freedom."

    An online petition, demanding that ETA terrorists pay for their crimes has more than 12,000 signatories.

    Meanwhile, ETA's letter warns that their disarmament plan "is not [yet] completed."

    "We want to warn that still the process can be attacked by the enemies of peace. The only real guarantee to succeed are the thousands of people gathering tomorrow in Bayonne [south-western France] supporting the disarmament."

    Related:

    Spanish PM Claims Basque Group ETA Will Get Nothing for Likely Disarmament
    Spanish Officials Call on Basque Terrorist Group ETA to Dissolve
    Head of Government of Spain's Basque Autonomy Trusts ETA's Plans to Disarm
    Guns Falling Silent: Basque Terrorist Group ETA to Announce Final Disarmament
    ETA Terrorists’ Stash With Explosives Found in Spain’s Basque Country
    Tags:
    political disagreement, terror, autonomy, militants, conflict, disarmament, independence, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), Spain, Europe, Basque Country, France
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