King Felipe VI and Queen Leticia hosted the European Day of Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism commemoration event, which this year also coincided with the 17th anniversary of the 2004 Atocha train bombings.
The commemoration event was held in the gardens of the royal palace of Madrid with leading political leaders including the Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez and the European Union´s foreign policy supremo, Josep Borrell.
The 11th March was set by the European Parliament in recognition of the impact of the Madrid bombings and to mark as a commemorative date throughout the European Union in memory of all terrorist victims.
The 191 mortal victims of the bombings were represented by 191 cypresses and olive trees in the garden´s Forest of Remembrance.
Along with state dignitaries the representatives of the Association of Victims of Terrorism and the Europe-wide association, Victims-Europe were also in attendance and gave addresses.
Two young students read the preamble to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, followed by a performance of “Lacrimosa”, from the “Requiem for Queen Barbara de Braganza”, played by the Spanish National Orchestra and Choir.
In his remarks, Felipe VI said that the goal must be in ‘preventing the radicalisation of sectors of the population and rejecting any legitimisation of violence as a means to achieving political goals.”
The king added that education was an ‘essential’ part in the prevention of terrorism which included ‘the involvement and help of victims” to share “their personal experience with the new generations” in order to help ” young people to a future of peaceful coexistence’.
In his address,Pedro Sánchez stressed the role of victims associations to ’preserve the memory of the victims’ and stressed his ‘gratitude and common feeling of deep solidarity’ with all the victims.
‘The triumph of freedom and reason is the triumph of the victims, it is the triumph of all of us,’ said the Prime Minister.
The commemoration closed with a minute of silence in memory of all victims of terrorism.