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The organisation that killed 829 people is expected to announce its final dissolution early next month.
Basque terrorist group ETA has apologised for the pain it caused and asked for the forgiveness of the families of the victims, as it prepares to dissolve.
In a statement published by Basque newspapers Beria and Gara, ETA acknowledged “its direct responsibility for the harm and states that none of this should have ever taken place, and it should have not continued as long as it has”.
“NEVER AGAIN IN THE FUTURE”
ETA, whose name stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom (in the Basque language) “express its commitment to overcome the consequences of the conflict once and for all, so that such events never happen again in the future”.
“We wish to express our respect to all the victims of ETA’s actions, in that they were harmed as a consequence of the conflict, whether they were killed, injured or harmed in any other way. We are truly sorry”, the statement says.
The group recognised that “due to the various requirements of the armed struggle, our activity has harmed a number of people who had no responsibility whatsoever in the conflict [...] We ask the forgiveness of these people and their relatives”.
SUFFERING BEFORE AND AFTER ETA
However, the organisation also pointed out that “suffering was great in our country before the birth of ETA and now, after ETA has ended its armed struggle, there continues to be pain and suffering”.
ETA “understands the fact that many people believe and express the idea that what we did was unacceptable and unjust”; but “much of what the State forces and their regional allies have done too, even though it was done under the guise of the law, was absolutely unjust for many Basque citizens”.
“THE ARMS OF DEMOCRACY”
The Spanish government statement responded to the announcement by saying: “This is nothing less than a consequence of the strength of the state of law that has conquered ETA with the arms of democracy”.
“It is good that the terrorist group has asked forgiveness from its victims. It should have asked for forgiveness a long time ago”, it added.
AVT : “SHAMEFUL AND IMMORAL”
The Victims of Terrorism Association (AVT) described the statement as “another attempt by ETA to dilute its real responsibility, justify its use of violence to impose its totalitarian project and manipulate history” .
AVT leader Maria del Mar Blanco told AFP news agency: “I find it shameful and immoral that they should make a distinction between people who deserved a bullet in the back of the head or a bomb in their car and accidental victims who did not deserve it”.
The President of the Basque autonomous region, Iñigo Urkullu, said that ETA should “consider all victims in the same way and recognise the unfair damage caused”.
EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the news shows that in the European Union “there is no room for guns and weapons, only for peace and the rule of law”.
FOUR DECADES OF KILLING
Between 1968 and 2010, ETA killed 829 people in bombing and shootings. Almost half of them were civilians. It also targeted state security forces. In 1973 assassinated Francisco Franco's Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco.
The group gave up its violent campaign in 2011 and disarmed itself one year ago.
According to Basque regional broadcaster ETB, ETA will announce its final dissolution early next month.