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Weekend anti-terrorism demonstration in Madrid

Mon 11th Apr 2011

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in the capital over the weekend in protest against the Basque separatist group ETA, calling upon the government to ban anyone connected them from running in coming regional and local elections.

Basque separatists launched Sortu, which had been hoped would be able to take part in the May election, earlier this year in an attempt to field pro-independence candidates on the ballot sheet.

Spain's Supreme Court denied Sortu legal status last month, and banned them fro taking part in elections, judging it to be a repackaged version of ETA's outlawed political wing Batasuna.

Sortu is still able to appeal to the Constitutional Court, and the demonstration in Madrid was organised by victims of various anti-terrorism associations to urge government and legal institutions to ban political groups with link to terrorism from running for office in future.

Sortu was launched following a number of meetings between independence groups with links to ETA, which concluded that violence was no longer an acceptable means to seek independance for the Basque region.

The Spanish government has repeatedly called for Batasuna to reject ETA and condemn all forms of violence if it wishes to regain legal status and take part in politics.

ETA called a cease-fire in September of last year, calling it 'permanent' in January, however to date it has called 11 truces throughout its 40-year history of violent separatism. The most recent "permanent" cease-fire was in 2006, but it ended with a car bomb at a parking garage at Madrid's international airport that killed two people after ETA decided that their attempts at negotiations with the government were going nowhere.

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