Demo for ETA prisoners held in Bilbao

Tens of thousands of people held a march in Bibao on January 12, 2013.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Bilbao to call on the Spanish government to allow ETA prisoners to serve the rest of their prison terms in jails nearer to their homes.

The ETA supporters shouted “Independence!” and “Amnesty now!” in a massive demonstration, which was held in Bilbao, the capital of the Spanish province of Biscay in the autonomous community of the Basque Country, on Saturday, AFP reported.

The demonstrators and the prisoners’ family members were led by a bus emblazoned with the slogan “Euskal Presoak Euskal Herrira” — which means Basque prisoners to the Basque country.

“We will not have peace as long as this issue of prisoners remains unresolved as it is the key to solving the conflict,” one of the protesters said.

French Basque activist Aurore Martin said he was “very impressed at the size of the protest.”

On December 22, 2013, Martin was arrested on charges of belonging to a terrorist group but was later released on bail.

According to the Basque prisoners’ association, Herrira, 607 of the 700 ETA members are in prisons in France, Spain, Portugal, and Britain.

Listed as a terrorist organization by Spain, the United States, and the European Union, ETA is held accountable for the deaths of over 800 people in bombings and shootings since the late 1960s.

The group is seeking the creation of a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwest France.

NT/HGL