There are some in Spain who claim that victims of terrorism cannot give an opinion about how to end terrorism. With this article I intent to counter that argument, although it is first necessary to clearly state what is meant by ending terrorism.
Ending terrorism means the stopping the use of intimidation, extortion, fear, violence, killings, and any other activity which threatens individual liberties. No nuances may be introduced in this definition.
The actions of the Spanish Government to end terrorism have spawned ample debate about the wrongly called peace process to achieve the end of… of what? Some say “the end of terrorism” while others talk about “the end of the conflict”. What we need is the end of ETA: the end of terror and of the fear forced upon people. The “end of terrorism” is the end of all freedom-limiting and liberticide activities. Of course, ETA does not talk about the end of its violent activities, but rather about “the end of the conflict”, in reference to purported oppression by Spain on the people of the Basque Country. If I ever see a clear documented case of state oppression on any citizen (be it in the Basque Country or else where in Spain), then we may talk about “the conflict”. In the mean time, the only conflict we have is that ETA has killed, mutilated and threatened a good number of people, who have lost their lives or freedom.
The only urgent matter on the table is putting an end to any activity which limits people’s liberties. In order to achieve this, there are fairly simple tools we can use: they are called “laws”, and all it takes is to enforce them. Once freedom and security are guaranteed for everyone, any political proposition is valid, provided it is raised through established mechanisms (which do not include setting up bombs nor killing).
The Government must concentrate strictly in law enforcement to stop any criminal or illegal activity, so that it may fulfill its duty: ensuring security for people, because otherwise there would be no freedom. These laws allow us to undermine the criminals’ financing and organizational networks. Laws also allow the arrest and prosecution of criminals. The answer to criminal activity cannot be other than the strict law enforcement. Otherwise, we would have to ask ourselves: what good is the law? Okay: it may be that a given law may be outdated, or maybe it was poorly written and passed. In such a case, the Government ought to modify the law, but it must not simply ignore it, nor do its own random interpretations of the law.
The current situation in Spain is that the Government would rather enforce the law only in a soft and comfortable way, so as to avoid getting criminals and killers upset. In doing so, the Spanish Government has managed to legitimize game rules which were unacceptable until now.
From now one, planting bombs and killing people without remorse is an acceptable way to initiate a dialogue. Rather than dedicating its efforts exclusively to arrest and prosecute criminals and assassins, the Government agrees to sit down to talk with ETA assassins, despite the absolute lack of regret on ETA’s part for its violent actions, and while its liberticide activity continues unchanged (terrorist attacks and extortion have not ceased since they announced a “permanent cease fire”). It is important to remember that their announcement and the empty set are one and the same thing: there was nothing new in it, as ETA did not renounce their attacks on civil liberties, nor their criminal activity, nor their territorial and independence aspirations.
It is yet to be seen what issues they plan to talk about. What’s more: do they plan to negotiate? What could be the subject of negotiation? The integration of the Basque Country, Navarra and the french Basque Country in a single independent territory? Reducing the sentences of ETA convicts? I guess the Government must have thought of a few bargaining chips to deal during talks with ETA. Fine. If the Government uses just one of those chips in exchange of ETA ending their extorting and threatening activities, and turning their weapons in, then it means that is quite profitable to kill and extort. Please may you kill at will, for you will obtain what you want, or part of it at least.
Awful situation we’ve got in Spain.
This strategy of surrender by the State before a criminal band is absolutely unacceptable. Talks with assassins should be out of the question. We’ve got laws to establish a certain order and rules. Those who ignore them can be punished according to the very same law, with the only goal or trying to maintain that order. No exceptions nor concessions can be made, for this would void the very concept of the Rule of Law. It turns out that Spain is based on the Rule of Law (“Estado de Derecho” in Spanish, article 1 of the current Spanish Constitution), so it is not an overstatement to say that the current Spanish Government has left the Rule of Law impaired.
I wish to reiterate that the Government may change the Constitution to make Spain run under something other than the Rule of Law, if they do not like to be restricted to comply with the law. There is a well documented procedure to introduce changes in the Constitution.
Therefore, do terrorism victims have a right to give their opinion about how to put an end to terrorism? Of course they do, just as the rest of citizens in this country. Victims quite likely have must stronger feelings against the assassins, but victims are not asking for anything unreal. They ask for the only thing that the Government can be asked to do: to enforce the law, guarantee security and make the Rule of Law effective.
The argument that victims are emotionally affected and cannot think clearly can only come from an idiot, who also thinks that killers and assassins do have the authority to take part in a debate. The emotional state of victims does not disqualify them take part too: that emotional state is precisely the result of ETA’s criminal activity, the band which in the first place has stepped over the law and has violated the human rights of others. Concessions to ETA and dialogue with ETA are not acceptable, but that’s the way the current Spanish Government is taking.