By Sarah Lafen
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Europe
MADRID, Spain — The Basque Militant Group Eta is rumored to fully disarm by April 8, 2017 according to sources who have spoken with Basque separatists and the Spanish government. Pro-Basque independence and environmental group Bizi is credited with the disarmament. Eta has killed over 800 people over the course of more than four decades, and a permanent ceasefire was declared six years ago however the group refused to give up any of its weapons.
Eta has grown significantly weaker in recent years after many of its members were arrested and police officers seized several of the group’s weapon stashes.
Inigo Urkullu, Basque regional government leader, assured that his administration considered the rumored disarmament to be credible and that his authority would do everything within their power for the “disarmament to come through well.” He commented that he hoped the disarmament would be “definitive, unilateral, irrevocable, complete and legal.” However, Urkullu added that “not everything is in [his administration’s] hands” and asked that both Madrid and Paris help mediate talks between the group and the government.
No formal announcement has been made regarding the disarmament, however Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido stated in a tweet that Eta must “dissolve itself and disappear. It has had time to disarm and it must know that it won’t get anything in exchange” for doing so. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy confirmed that Eta will not receive anything in exchange for the disarmament.
The Spanish government cautioned that the group has made similar promises in the past, however has not followed through. Rajoy commented that “ETA has made the umpteenth announcement and says it will disarm.” In the past, Eta has unsuccessfully tried to wager deals with the Spanish and French governments in exchange for disarmament on several occasions. The Spanish and French governments denied the proposed deals and insisted only that the group hands over their arsenal.
Both the United States and the European Union consider Eta to be a terrorist organization. The group reportedly hopes to negotiate its disarmament in exchange for amnesty or improved prison conditions for hundreds of its members who are currently being held in Spain and France.
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