Basque terror group ETA says it is now a “disarmed” organization
Letter to BBC states separatists have handed over all arms but makes no mention of disbanding
The Basque separatist group ETA announced on Friday in a letter seen by the BBC that its disarmament, set for Saturday, will be “total,” adding: “after giving up all its weaponry (arms and explosives) to Basque civil society representatives, it is now a disarmed organization.”
The letter, dated April 7 and written in Spanish and English, is barely five paragraphs long, also warns that the peace process “can still be attacked by the enemies of peace.”
Spain’s High Court wants to investigate the weapons handover, to take place in the French town of Bayonne
Over the course of four decades of violence in the northeastern region of Spain, ETA killed more than 800 people and wounded thousands. The organization declared a ceasefire in 2011 but did not disarm. Successive governments have said they refuse to negotiate with the armed group and have continued to arrest its leaders in Spain and France.
The letter talks of a “hard and difficult path,” blaming the French and Spanish governments for placing “obstacles” in the way of peace, and “insisting in a winners and losers scheme, stubborn with a police solution [sic].”
It continues: “We took up arms for the Basque people and now we live them [sic] in their hands so that Basques can continue taking steps to achieve peace and freedom for our country.”
ETA’s communique comes 21 days after Jean-Noël ‘Text’ Etcheverry, linked to a number of left-wing pro-independence organizations and chosen by ETA as a mediator, told French daily Le Monde that ETA would be fully disarmed by the end of April 8.
In the letter, ETA warns the peace process can still be attacked by the enemies of peace
It has had to use organizations sympathetic to its cause to present its disarmament following the refusal of the Spanish government to negotiate its dissolution and the failure of the supposed arms handover in 2014 and December 2016, when Etcheverry and four others were arrested in Luhoso, in the south of France, with a weapons cache.
Spain’s High Court wants to investigate the weapons handover, which will take place in the French border town of Bayonne. The State Attorney’s office wants to establish whether any of the guns were used to carry out some of the 300 killings that have still not been fully resolved.
English version by Nick Lyne.