Spain: ETA’s disarmament

Spanish government must address issue of early prisoner release

 

The announcement that the Basque terrorist group Eta will finally put its arms beyond use, more than six years after it declared a unilateral “permanent and general ceasefire”, is welcome though it remains to be seen exactly how this process will take place. If total disarmament is followed by the formal dissolution of the group, this will bring a long-overdue close to a bloody conflict. Even its supporters now recognise that Eta’s violence failed to advance its political goal -- an independent, socialist Basque state -- but cost more than 800 lives.

Indeed, it is significant that support for explicitly pro-independence options in Basque elections has soared, from less than 10 per cent when Eta’s terrorist campaign resumed after the 2006/7 peace process collapsed, to almost 25 per cent after the 2011 ceasefire. Eta had enjoyed quite widespread Spanish and international sympathy when it began its armed campaign against the hated Franco dictatorship, and was very popular in the Basque Country during this period. But this turned to revulsion among Spanish democrats as Eta intensified its attacks when Spain became a democracy and the Basque Country achieved significant self-government.

Eta retained substantial local support, boosted by often violent and indiscriminate repression, including torture, and the use of death squads, unleashed by the Spanish state. But since 2007, the group’s political allies have worked steadily to persuade its discredited military leadership to end all violence, without receiving any concessions from the state. The response of the governing right-wing Partido Popular (PP), and the highly politicised judiciary, to the total cessation of violence since 2011 has at times been bizarre.

Eta has now said that it will turn over its remaining arsenals to the French authorities, through civil intermediaries, on April 8th. If Eta keeps its word, it is time the Spanish government learned the wisdom of generosity and found the courage to engage positively with the biggest legacy issue of the conflict: the thorny problem of early prisoner release.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.