Basque terrorist group ETA acknowledge on Friday (20 April) the harm it had caused, saying it was directly responsible for the suffering of the Basque people and apologised to the victims. EURACTIV’s partner efe-epa reports from San Sebastian, Spain.
In a statement published in Basque newspapers Gara and Berria, ETA expressed its regret for the pain caused to all those affected by its actions and asked forgiveness from those victims not directly related to what the group called the “conflict”.
“We are aware that during this long period of armed conflict, we have caused a lot of pain, including a lot of harm that is irreparable. We want to show our respect to the dead, the wounded and the victims of ETA’s actions, those who have been affected by the conflict. We are very sorry,” ETA said.
The organization added that, as a result of errors or erroneous decisions, it had also caused victims “who did not have a direct involvement in the conflict, both in Basque Country as well as outside it.”
“To these people and their families, we apologise. These words will not resolve what happened, nor mitigate so much pain. We say this respectfully, without wanting to cause any more pain,” the statement added.
The group said that during decades of armed conflict, the Basque society had been “killed, wounded, tortured, kidnapped or forced to flee abroad” and acknowledged that it was directly responsible, adding that it should not have happened nor lasted for long.
The separatists pointed out that there was suffering before ETA came into being, and would continue to exist even after ETA had abandoned its armed struggle.
“No one can change the past, but one of the most damaging things that could be done is to try to distort it or hide certain incidents. Let us all assume responsibility and the damage caused,” ETA said.
ETA, founded in 1959 and considered a terrorist group by the European Union, is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in its campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.
It gave up its armed struggle in 2011 but has been seeking to negotiate its dissolution in exchange for amnesties or improved prison conditions for roughly 350 members of the group being held in Spain and France.