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Victims of Terrorism in the Basque Country Through Testimony and Memorialization

The Basque Country, a region of northern Spain home to a unique language and thousands of years of history, has been riddled with an independence movement since the turn of the 20th century. In 1959, ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, a phrase in the Basque language that stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom), a Basque terrorism organization, emerged. While exercising violent means in the fight for independence, they took the lives of more than 800 individuals, ranging from politicians to children. Since the 2011 cease-fire and the official disbandment of the organization in 2018, the Basque Community has been faced with the issue of how to recover from a state of internal conflict, working to create a historical narrative of what happened throughout the last six decades. In such a context, wherein Basques are fighting against Basques on the grounds of nationalism and independence, the term “victims” deserves an explanation. While the most visible victims of ETA are those that were assassinated or physically wounded, the Basque community as a whole has suffered the consequences of an active terrorism organization — from the families of those murdered to the families of terrorists that were incarcerated in distant prisons, to innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire. Today, streets remain lined with graffiti and posters calling for the liberation of incarcerated terrorists, while family members of those killed by ETA walk the same streets.