Basque separatist group ETA announces its dissolution

Basque separatist group ETA announces its dissolution

In an open letter to the Basque people, ETA said it has "completely dismantled all of its structures" and "will no longer express political positions, promote initiatives or interact with other stakeholders".

It further added that the Basque conflict with Spain "did not being with the ETA and does not end with the end of ETA's journey".

ETA, whose initials stand for "Euskadi ta Askatasuna" or "Basque Homeland and Freedom" in the Basque language, killed more than 850 people during its violent campaign to create an independent state in northern Spain and southern France, a lot of them during the tumultuous 1980s when Spain was transitioning from dictatorship to democracy.

The statement was released to global media and was also read out at the lakeside Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, which for the past 15 years has been involved in mediating the Basque conflict.

But weakened in recent years by the arrests of its senior leaders, it announced a permanent ceasefire in 2011 and began formally surrendering its arms last year.

The Basque separatist group ETA said it has dismantled its organizational structure after a six-decade independence campaign that killed hundreds in Spain, taking the final step in disbanding after disarming previous year and bringing an end to one of Europe's bloodiest nationalist conflicts in recent times.

Worldwide mediators are organising a peace conference in southwest France on May 4th.

"Whatever ETA does, there will be no concessions or impunity for its crimes".

"We don't owe them anything and we have nothing to thank them for", Rajoy added.

While an overwhelming majority of Basques welcome the end of violence, many still want independence.

Basque separatist group ETA announces its dissolution

The group has demanded that prisoners be moved to prisons closer to their families after the end of ETA.

The head of the Basque regional government, Inigo Urkullu, said that ETA "will stop disturbing us forever".

In an interview with El Pais newspaper on Thursday, Urkullu said ETA should never have existed.

ETA's announcement was rejected by victims' groups, who argue the separatist group should first and foremost condemn its history of violence and shed light on more than 350 unsolved crimes.

Victims' campaigners complained that the call for forgiveness did not extend to those the group considered legitimate targets, such as police officers and politicians.

The association said in a statement that ETA hasn't helped solve crimes it committed that are still under investigation, hasn't offered a blanket apology to victims beyond relaying its regret for those caught up in the Basque conflict, and hasn't recognized the damage it caused.

A final public declaration was expected Thursday, several sources in Basque separatist circles told AP.

Those victims are also demanding they be acknowledged.

Her father Josu, a lawmaker for Herri Batasuna, ETA's political wing, was murdered in 1989 by far-right militants she believes were state-backed.

"This is not the end of ETA that we wanted and, above all, is not the end of ETA we deserved", she said.

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