Basque group Eta apologises to victims ahead of dissolution

Three members of Basque separatist group ETA sit masked in a still image taken from a video published on the website of Basque language newspaper Gara on October 20, 2011.Image copyright

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The Basque armed organisation Eta is expected to announce its dissolution next month

The Basque armed organisation Eta has apologised to the victims of its decades-long conflict for independence, just days before an expected announcement of dissolution.

The group asked for “forgiveness” for killing people without “a direct participation in the conflict”.

Spain’s government said Eta was defeated politically and operationally and did not achieve any of its goals.

Eta killed some 800 people and wounded thousands more in 40 years of conflict.

The group, which waged a bloody campaign for independence for seven regions in northern Spain and south-west France, is expected to announce its dissolution early next month.

“We are aware that during this long period of armed struggle we have created a lot of pain, including many damages for which there is no solution,” the group said in a statement published in two Basque newspapers.

“We want to show respect for the dead, those injured and the victims that were caused by the actions of Eta… “We truly apologise,” it added, admitting its “direct responsibility” in the “disproportionate suffering” in the Basque country.

The group also said it was committed to moving forwards with the process of reconciliation in the Basque country.

In September 2010, the group announced that it would not carry out further attacks, and it declared a permanent ceasefire in January 2011.

In April 2017 the militant group revealed the locations of its weapons caches and said it had completely disarmed.

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Eta carried out many attacks including the one which killed Spanish Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco in 1973

Eta first emerged in the 1960s as a student resistance movement bitterly opposed to General Franco’s repressive military dictatorship.

Under Franco the Basque language was banned, their distinctive culture suppressed, and intellectuals imprisoned and tortured for their political and cultural beliefs.

Gen Franco’s death in 1975 and the transition to democracy brought the region of two million people home rule.

Many of those who were killed were members of Spain’s national police force, the Guardia Civil, and both local and national politicians who are opposed to Eta’s separatist demands.

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