Spanish attempts to intimidate and Criminalise the Catalan pro-sovereign movement

Last week we published an account of the state repression and police intimidation by Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte. There followed a series of comments on this site challenging these facts and presenting ‘alternative facts’. Here we publish further detail on the state repression, criminalization of legitimate protest and infringements on civil rights that are underway in Catalonia.

Last Monday (September 23rd) nine members of the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs) were arrested by the Spanish police. This is another attempt (as Raphael Tskavko García explains) to intimidate and criminalise the Catalan pro-sovereign movement, on the eve of the trial sentences of the 12 political prisoners who will most likely be the maximum penalties for their prerogatives of calling a referendum for independence (October 1st, 2017) following the popular will of the Catalan people.

The initial charges were terrorism, rebellion and possession of explosives. The latter charge was dropped after they realised they had only seized fireworks from the local fiesta. But 7 of them have been sent to jail without bail accused of belonging to a terrorist organisation.

According to Alerta Solidària, (from the defence law team), the following infringements have happened so far.

Infringements of the Right to Counsel

During these two days, the defence team has suffered numerous difficulties intentionally exercised by several parties: the Guardia Civil, the prosecutor and the court, the Audiencia Nacional that have caused serious violations of the rights of Catalan activists.

First, there have been a number of leaks to the media of its own operations, supposed evidence, accusations, and so on, in a case in which the defence cannot have access due to the fact it is under seal. Second, it has been difficult for the team of lawyers to even know where the detainees were. They have either not been informed, or in some cases, provided with with contradictory information. Third, lawyers have also found difficulties interviewing the detainees, and were unable in some cases to visit the detainees for more than 36 hours while they were under interrogation without counsel. The lawyers designated by the relatives of two of the detainees were prevented from doing their job and denied access to their clients and being prevented from knowing what they have been accused of. The Guardia Civil has therefore prevented the attorney team from assisting two of the detainees and they have now had a public defence layer assigned to them.

A political police operation

Alerta Solidària believe that this police operation had been conducted with political and electoral intentions: on the one hand as an electoral move a few weeks before a general elections is held again in Spain and on the other hand to try to stop popular mobilisation around October 1st (the second anniversary of the referendum) and the verdict against the Catalan political prisoners that is due in early October.

The constant leaks by Spanish judicial institutions and police denote a dirty war that has much more to do with provoking media outrage against independence than with a judicial process.

Despite the attempts of criminalisation, demobilisation, and isolation that are aimed at this operation, the response of the population has been mobilisation and solidarity. Only by continuing with the mobilisations of support, the rejection of repression and the fight for the freedom of our people we will be able to stop this and so many other repressive hits.

The CDRs

In order to grasp this political context, it is important to understand who the CDRs, the groups now targeted by the Guardia Civil, are exactly, and in particular to understand their commitment to non-violent direct action.

Less and less Catalans want to live in a country like Spain where power is seized and maintained by force in a way not experienced since the Franco dictatorship. Even if you are far from this conflict, we assume that the most reasoned response to this a political problem like this, the most reasonable is dialogue, negotiation, and, if appropriate, a return to the polls.

(adapted from: ComuniCATS: https://comunicats.cat/carta-detinguts-23s-cartes-per-la-republica/)

Comments (2)

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  1. Marga says:

    Thanks again for another foray into the complex Catalan situation. Scots should be proud of their media with its unique overview of a difficult issue.

    The Spanish state desperately needs terrorism and violence charges to stick (suspicions of agents provocateurs are being voiced here) to shore up the weak case for rebellion but swingeing sentences, against the former government; to justify further repression; and crucially, to be able to tick the “terrorism” box on the next round of European Arrest Warrants, meaning the compulsory return of political exiles, including “our Clara” (Ponsati) to Spanish jails and courtrooms.

    I think the points above far from “alternative facts” would probably be broadly accepted in Catalonia and Spain. Others may argue differently, of course.

  2. SleepingDog says:

    I have just watched the documentary series The Truth About Franco: Spain’s Forgotten Dictatorship, shown recently on PBS America:
    https://www.pbsamerica.co.uk/series/the-truth-about-franco-spains-forgotten-dictatorship/
    Forgotten by the rest of the world, I presume, as the documentary ends with talking about the long shadow the dictatorship cast since the death of Francisco Franco in 1975. The elitism is Spain’s living-memory history is different from the UK’s, but many ‘democracies’ seemed willing enough to support it during the dictator’s reign of terror (as the documentary calls it).

    I was struck by the Francoist attitude that when they talked about ‘Spain’, it may have included territory but it excluded many, many people (such as opponents). Franco apparently said he would kill half of the people to save Spain from becoming Marxist. So in that sense, it is not so much that seccessionist movements in Spain want to break from a Spain they have already belonged to, but are asserting a right to belong to a state generations after being excluded from Spain by its political elite.

    The circumstances are different, I am not familiar enough with Spanish or Catalan history and culture, to draw comparisons with England and Scotland (perhaps you could argue that the UK is politically English but geographically the rump British Empire territories, although presumably like Spain there are elite and elite-supporting sections of society dispersed).

    Anyway, the documentary viewed the Francoist regime as incompetent, vicious, corrupt, oppressive and dysfunctional from the start, and only survived due to support from Fascist Italy and particularly Nazi Germany, and later (particularly) support from the USA. In a similar way, I think we can hardly imagine the UK regime surviving if it was cut off from its foreign supporters, tax havens, arms supplies to murderous and oppressive regimes, and exploitative commercial relations.

    I am not sure the UK regime could easily survive a scandal like the Spanish babies stolen from dissent mothers with the connivance of Catholic nuns, or the torture chambers and death squads, or the many miscarriages of justice. The documentary says that Franco took many secrets to the grave. Well, people have been digging up the graves of the disappeared ever since. Something, metaphorically at least, we all might consider our duty to do.

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