A Spanish MEP who was the primary author of EU victims policy has slammed attempts by terrorists to portray themselves as victims and peacemakers without showing regret for their bloodshed.
Teresa Jimenez Becerril MEP gave the message in a prerecorded keynote address to a victims’ conference in Enniskillen on Saturday.
Another Spanish MEP, Maite Pagazaurtundua, and Consuelo Ordóñez, president of the main Spanish victims’ group Covite, flew in to address the conference, hosted by the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) in the Lough Erne Golf Resort.
The event was attended by many high profile figures including First Minister Arlene Foster and Chief Constable George Hamilton - who gave a staunch defence of current policing policy regarding ‘policing the past’ - as well as Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson.
Ms Jimenez Becerril told how she was inspired to get into politics after ETA murdered her politician brother and his wife in 1998; his party had refused to centralise ETA prisoners in the Basque region.
ETA waged a campaign of bombings and assassinations which saw 800 people killed in support of its separatist cause.
But the Spanish MEP said the true reason her brother was murdered is because “he represented democracy”.
She was uncompromising about talking to terrorists, asking how it can be done when they “refuse to show regret?”
And she slammed terrorists who pretend to be “the peacemakers” by proposing one-sided peace agreements.
“Or they portray themselves as the victim of injustice by demanding an end to imprisonment of their self-proclaimed freedom fighters,” she added.
Using the word “conflict” to describe the ETA campaign raises “terrible disappointment” in the eyes of their victims, she said. “The reality is, it was terrorists who started blowing up people.
“Both the IRA and ETA had in common that they decided to kill innocent civilians for their own agenda.
“That is exactly what terrorists do.”
For Ms Jimenez Becerril it is fundamental that it is the families of those murdered and those injured who should be considered victims, as well and those who witness attacks.
“One thing is certain. Never can a terrorist become a victim. This seems obvious, but in reality it is more frequent than you think.
“ETA terrorists all too often proclaim they are victims of injustice of that society or the state hasn’t done enough to integrate them before they blow up women and children.
“Please, let us not be blind or ignorant. We all know who the victim is.”
She also took comfort from the fact that the Spanish judicial system had cast judgment on ETA as guilty of “crimes against humanity”.
SEFF’s Ken Funston gave a presentation noting that former Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi will be released this week after being given 10 years for trying to rebuild the party, which was linked to ETA.
He questioned why Otegi’s close supporters Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness had not been jailed for building and promoting Sinn Fein.