Civilian intermediaries speaking in the name of ETA, the Basque terrorist organization, will notify the French judiciary of the location of its arms caches in what constitutes a unilateral and unconditional disarmament to be completed on April 8.
“ETA has made us responsible for disarmament of its arsenal, and by the afternoon of April 8, ETA will be completely unarmed,” said Jean Noël Etcheverry Txetx, an activist with a radical Basque group called Bizi, in statements to French newspaper Le Monde.
The disarmament process will be supervised by the International Verification Commission (IVC), created in 2011 after ETA announced a permanent cessation of violence, and by the Basque government.
In January 2011, ETA announced a “permanent, general and verifiable” ceasefire
This operation has been in the works ever since the arrest of five civilian intermediaries in the southern French town of Bayonne on December 16. These individuals were trying to film the decommissioning of an ETA arsenal in France.
But the impossibility of carrying this out, coupled with permanent police tracking of ETA’s movements, has pushed the organization into a change of strategy.
ETA’s arsenal has been out of use for over five years, making the decommissioning a symbolic affair. The latest police seizure of weapons in France, last December, yielded 12 submachine guns, nine machine guns, 25 light weapons and two grenades. This was estimated to be around 20% of ETA’s entire arsenal.
In January 2011, ETA announced a “permanent, general and verifiable” ceasefire with the express aim of ending its more than 50-year campaign of terrorist violence.
After the definitive end of violence, ETA attempted to negotiate the terms of decommissioning with the Spanish government. The terrorist organization sent a delegation to Norway to await a representative of the Popular Party administration, but nobody showed up. In February 2013, the ETA delegation was asked to leave Norway following pressure from the Spanish government.