Spain: Thousands demand transfers for ETA prisoners in Basque protest

Spain: Thousands demand transfers for ETA prisoners in Basque protest

Jan. 12, 2019– Mary Greeley News – ETA may be history but the dilemma of what to do with prisoners linked to the former armed separatist group stirs passions in the Basque Country

ETA may be history but the dilemma of what to do with prisoners linked to the former armed separatist group stirs passions in the Basque Country.

Bilbao (Spain) (AFP) – Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in the Basque Country on Saturday demanding that prisoners linked to the former armed separatist group ETA be transferred to jails closer to the northern Spanish region.

In the city of Bilbao, protest organizers said some 100,000 people rallied along the streets calling for prisoners to be moved nearer to home and for an amnesty.

Spain: Thousands demand transfers for ETA prisoners in Basque protest

Spanish government policy has been to keep most ETA prisoners in jails hundreds of kilometer’s away from the region, which has made it difficult for relatives to visit.

After coming to power in June last year, a month after ETA disbanded, Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez pledged to start reversing the policy.

A second protest of around 9,000 protesters took place in Bayonne, in French Basque Country, calling for the prisoners to be moved.

Spain: Thousands demand transfers for ETA prisoners in Basque protest

But Spanish conservatives and some relatives of ETA’s victims fiercely resist this, arguing prisoners should first repudiate the group — which few have done — before they can be allowed closer.

ETA killed more than 800 people and wounded thousands more over four decades of conflict in an attempt to establish an independent Basque state.