TOWARD THE END OF ETA

ETA opens an internal debate to decide on its “functions” once it dissolves

The Basque terrorist group will decide on its role to “facilitate the accumulation of pro-independence forces”

San Sebastián - 20 sep 2017 - 08:06 UTC

The Basque terrorist group ETA announced on Monday that it has opened an internal debate to decide on its own role and the life-cycle of the organization, five months after it staged a decommissioning event under the supervision of an international verification committee.

Hooded ETA members hand over an inventory of weapons to a verification group in February 2014.
Hooded ETA members hand over an inventory of weapons to a verification group in February 2014.BBC

Leaders of ETA, which killed 820 people and injured thousands in its nearly 50-year campaign for an independent Basque Country, said that they need to decide what to do “so that the popular pro-independence process that has begun can develop in the most appropriate conditions in order to facilitate an accumulation of forces that will manage to secure the right to decide.”

The organization will look “to the future, to make decisions regarding the role and the cycle of ETA”

In a press release sent to Gara, a sympathizing newspaper, ETA said that the entire organization “will take a look back, analyze its own history and the road that’s been traveled from the change in strategy to our days.”

Based on this, the organization will look “to the future, to make decisions regarding the role and the cycle of ETA.”

Leaders have accepted that they are just one step away from formally dissolving as a terrorist organization, in order to become one more link in the chain of the “popular pro-independence process.”

The idea is to adopt a different structure in order to keep playing a role in Basque politics.

David Pla, the last leader of ETA’s political wing, said on February 18 – speaking from the French penitentiary where he is serving time – that once decommissioning takes place ETA will declare itself to be “a disarmed organization.”

The soul-searching comes after a collective of ETA prisoners voted to let individual members apply for prison benefits

Top members are not ruling out a continuing role for ETA, this time as a disarmed sociopolitical organization.

The release warns that “there might be political and media pressure to negatively condition the consequences and benefits of developing the debate. Grassroots activists now have the power to decide on the proposal that’s on the table.”

This soul-searching comes after a collective of ETA prisoners, the EPPK, voted to let individual members apply for prison benefits, including transfers to penitentiaries closer to home. Before that, ETA convicts had had strict instructions to never apply for benefits.

However, applicants have refused to apologize for the damage that they caused or to cooperate with the Spanish justice system in order to solve pending cases.

First, we need to resolve the matter of ETA’s definitive dissolution

Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido

Until ETA officiates an unconditional dissolution, the Spanish government will not make any moves to award benefits, despite calls to the contrary by the Basque government, which is controlled by the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and the Basque Socialist Party.

Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido clarified the government’s position in August: “First, we need to resolve the matter of ETA’s definitive dissolution, their apology, a definitive decommissioning, and once they have shown repentance, and even cleared up pending matters, that’s when steps could be taken to see what can be done.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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