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Spain's Basques form human chain calling for independence vote

11 June 2018

Protesters held hands or extended scarves between themselves to form the human chain, which connected the cities of San Sebastian, Bilbao and regional seat Vitoria.

More than 175,000 people in Spain's Basque Country joined to form a 202 kilometer-long human chain on Sunday, as they called for the right to host a referendum on independence form Madrid.

Last month, the separatist group Eta, which had been fighting for Basque independence, formally announced it was disbanding, nearly exactly 50 years after claiming its first victim.

Deemed a terrorist organisation by the European Union, it killed more than 800 people between 1968 and 2010, the year before it announced a permanent ceasefire.

The Gure Esku Dago (It's in our hands) group organised logistics for the event which saw around 1,000 buses bring people in for the rally.

Several also wore symbols of support for Calatan separatists.

While most from the Basque Country, which already has a high level of self-determination and, like Catalonia, has its own language and culture, do not support independence, many believe the population should be given the right to vote.

The event was also created to show support for Catalonia several of whose pro-independence leaders were jailed or else fled overseas in the aftermath of last year's referendum which Madrid said was unconstitutional.

The Spanish government, backed by the constitutional court, maintains that any ballot on regional independence is illegal.

Spain's Basques form human chain calling for independence vote