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Spain's Association of Victims of Terrorism Publicly Chastizes Amnesty International

The Minister of the Interior, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, receives the president of the Association of Terrorism Victims, Angeles Pedraza. Photo from the Ministry of the Interior website.

The Minister of the Interior, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, receives the president of the Association of Victims of Terrorism, Angeles Pedraza. Photo from the Ministry of the Interior website.

A few hours before the European Court of Human Rights [en] (ECHR) issued a verdict which could mean the release from prison of several members of the Basque terrorist organization ETA [en] imprisoned in Spain, the Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT) posted several tweets criticizing what they consider a lack of support of Amnesty International [en].

In the verdict [en], which was made known on October 21, the ECHR decided that the the so-called “Parot Doctrine“ [en] is illegal. This doctrine allowed for the amended 2003 Penal Code to be applied retroactively on crimes committed before it was put into effect, thus extending original sentences. The verdict also urges the Spanish government to free the ETA member Ines del Rio “as quickly as possible.”

This sentence hasn't only unleashed strong controversy on social networks, but even before it was public, there were many Internet users who were thinking about the possible consequences of the ECHR's decision. In these circumstances, the Association of Victims of Terrorism [es] posted this tweet:

AVT's doors are open for Amnesty International if they want to know the victims’ realities. But most of them are more pro ETA.

This tweet provoked an avalanche of indignant responses like the following:

The fact that you have suffered terrorism @_AVT_, doesn't mean that you can insult an organization that has spent the past 40 years saving innocent lives.

During the Argentine dictatorship, Jorge Rafael Viela agreed with @_AVT_: “Amnesty International is a pro-terrorist organization.”

The ATV is a repugnant organization controlled by the ultra-right which uses deaths as an element of pressure.

@_AVT_, you have made the victims roll in their graves.

Internet users also left comments on news and online newspaper websites, not only on Twitter. Falcatruadas wrote [es] in the Huffington Post:

Cuando dejaran de prostituir a las victimas estos malnacidos. Se les acabo el chollo.

When will these sons of bitches stop prostituting victims. The party is over.

The user machao, using the same media, also criticized[es] AVT's tweet:

Toda esta gente de la AVT hace mucho tiempo que perdió toda su credibilidad y lo que es peor toda su dignidad. Qué mal debieron llevar el cese permanente de la actividad armada de ETA, se les acabó el chollo.

All of these people from AVT lost their credibility a long time ago, and all their dignity, which is worse. How badly they must have dealt with the ceasefire of ETA's armed activity. The party is over.

Other Internet users also criticized Amnesty International, like lobonegro [es], who accused the organization of having clear political synpathies on the daily ABC:

Claro, claro. Y A.I. es una asociación benéfica para proteger a la gente decente y desamparada, ¿ verdad?. Como por ejemplo hace habitualmente en China, en Corea del Norte, en Cuba, en Venezuela, en Rusia y su paraíso de libertad o ahorita mismo en Siria o el cuerno sur de Africa. ¿ a que si?

Of course, of course. And A.I. is a benefic organization to protect decent and defenseless people, right? Like in China, In North Korea, in Cuba, in Venezuela, in Russia and its paradise of freedom, or right now in Syria or the southern horn of Africa, isn't that so?

And the Twitter user J.J. Salas endorsed ATV's statements:

Criticisms and insults of @_AVT_ for denouncing reality, for which A.I. has always positioned itself in favor of the ETA prisoners and never with their victims.

However, the vast majority of Internet users defended the international organization's work. Daniel Morgado wrote on VdeVerdadNews[es]:

Protest organized by ATV in Madrid. Photo from the blog Auténticos builders of peace.

Protest organized by AVT in Madrid. Photo from the blog Auténticos builders of peace.

La AVT vuelve a estar en boca de la gran mayoría de los españoles y las españolas, y no precisamente por sus méritos sino más bien por sus errores. Cabe recordar que según nos informaba el diario El Plural ya en 2007, esta misma asociación cuenta con el respaldo de grupos “tan democráticos y respetuosos” como son Alianza Nacional, La Falange, España 2000, Frente Nacional, Juventudes de la Falange Española,…; que “apoyan de manera inquebrantable a la AVT y sus reivindicaciones”. 

For the great majority of Spanish men and women, the AVT comes up in conversation, and not exactly for their merits but more for their mistakes. It's fitting to remember that according to what the daily El Plural already told us in 2007, this same association is supported by “such democratic and respectable” groups as Alianza Nacional, La Falange, España 2000, Frente nacional, Juventudes de la Falange Española…, which “support the AVT and their acceptance unyieldingly.”

Other Twitter users humorously connected the AVT tweet with the habit some government representatives seem to have of connecting any “annoying” group with ETA:

From the creators of “March 15 is ETA,” “the PAH is ETA,” and “March 11 was ETA” comes @_AVT_: “Amnesty International is ETA”

So with the incorporation of Amnesty International we now closed the cartel.

The AVT was created in 1981. It brings together families and victims of ETA [en], IRA [en], First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Groups [en] and Islamic attempts [en]. Its current president is Angeles Pedraza, who lost her daughter in the 2004 Madrid train bombings [en]. Along with its existence, AVT has been accused of being affiliated with the governing Partido Popular (Popular Party) on numerous occasions and has been responsible for controversial conflicts with the previous PSOE (Socialist) government and with other terrorism victim associations of different ideologies. But it has also gotten approval for advocating on behalf of victims and survivors of terrorism.

In an interview with Paco Novales[es] for the news site Mas posted on September 4, 2013, the AVT president, Angeles Pedraza, expressed it like this:

¿Cuáles han sido los logros y aciertos de la AVT desde su creación? ¿Ha habido algún error?
R: Somos humanos, así que errores tiene que haber. Pero la AVT ha tenido grandes logros en su lucha por las víctimas del terrorismo. En los duros ochenta ayudó a sacarlas de la clandestinidad a la que estaban obligadas a acogerle, supo movilizar a la sociedad contra la injusticia y frente a los terroristas, consiguió que empezase a aplicarse la doctrina Parot para hacer las condenas más justas,… y muchas más.

(…)

P.- Si tuviera capacidad para hacer o eliminar leyes, ¿qué medidas adoptaría?
R: Eliminaría todos los beneficios penitenciarios para los asesinos y adoptaría la cadena perpetua.

What have been AVT's achievements and good decisions since its creation? Have there been any mistakes?
R: We're human, so mistakes will happen. But AVT has had great achievements for terrorism victims. In the hard years of the 80′s AVT helped to get get terrorists out of clandestinity, knew to mobilize society against injustice and confront terrorists, got started applying the Parot Doctrine in order to make fairer prison sentences,… and much more.

(…)

P.- If it was possible to make or eliminate laws, which measures would you adopt?
R: I would eliminate all penitentiary benefits for murderers and would adopt life imprisonment.

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