Police Violence in Barcelona

The criminal behaviour of Spain’s post-fascist police is appalling, if unsurprising. As David Whyte and Ignasi Bernat wrote the other day of the custodial sentences for peaceful democracy activists:

“Those sentences are incredible not least since, as the defence lawyers in the case pointed out, no police officer is yet to come in front of the courts for the brutal violence on the day of the referendum. This trial is stretching the boundaries of the Spanish state’s ability to face the rest of the world unashamedly, and of the rest of world’s ability to accept what is going on in Spain unashamedly.”

The Spanish state may not be able to face the world, but the world must face the Spanish state. As we hear of a case where a Spanish court acquited paramilitary police who forced bar customers to put bullets in their mouths & sing a fascist anthem, and blatant attacks on journalists , it’s time for the rest of the world to take a stand.

In fact the Former UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic & Equitable International Order, Alfred de Zayas has said: “The criminalization of the right of self-determination of peoples is a crime against the UN Charter and Article 1 of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

The problem with the Spanish state’s approach of punitive imprisonment and police thuggery is it is interacting with a peaceful democratic movement. That movement may lose patience after endless provocation.

But as the violence intensifies it is incumbent on the EU – whose own credibility is under intense scrutiny – to make statements and take action against a member state which is acting to suppress peaceful and lawful demonstrations. If the institutions and leaders of the EU want to gain or build credibility they must immediately denounce Spain’s actions, which if they happened outside Europe would be the subject of a wall of condemnation.


Comments (7)

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  1. David Allan says:

    there are a hell of a lot of “world leaders” and “world organisations” and “religious leaders” who have completely lost their morale compass. The world is in the hands of statesman and women not worthy of the name. Democracy is in danger of erosion on so many fronts -where is the world heading?

    Ignoring and avoiding such issues is akin to what happened in the 1930’s.

    the silence on Catalonia issue is deafening. Just as is the issue of Gibraltar in the Brexit situation!

  2. David Allan says:

    read moral for morale- oops!

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      The media have reported the incidents in Barcelona, but have not included much in the way of comment ……. except The Guardian. In this self-proclaimed ‘progressive’ beacon, there was a piece by Tim Tremlett*, an author who lives in Madrid, the gist of which was, ‘these Catalans have been arrogant, are not liked in the rest of Spain and have got what they deserved from the Spanish courts.

      * Mr Tremlett is the author of a rightly acclaimed book “The Ghosts of Spain”, in which he writes of the legacies of the Civil War which continue to have a strong influence on present-day Spain. It is a pity that he did not apply such academic rigour to the ‘legacy’ which is present in the actions of the court and of the police on the streets of Barcelona and on other Catalan towns.

      1. milgram says:

        Giles Tremlett’s book was good enough, a bit wishy-washy if I remember right, but he’s a journalist that managed to miss the arrival and then the significance of the 15M movement. Haven’t rated him since then. He seems to be quite comfortable in Madrid media circles, so I’m not surprised to hear his recent article on Catalonia was as bad as the headline.
        English speakers are really ill-served by the coverage of Spain and the countries of its ex-empire.

        1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

          Apologies, ‘Giles’ not ‘Tim’. I must have been attracted by the alliteration!

  3. Douglas says:

    The police charging last night in Barcelona were the Mossos de Esquadra, that is, the Catalan police, not the Spanish national police force.

    So, you have this bizarre situation whereby Quim Torra, the President of the Catalan Government, is calling for Catalans to go out and protest, and there are all these clashes with his own police force, who are baton charging his own people, who are throwing objects at their own police…

    As for Giles Tremlett, he’s a decent journalist but his breezy, complacent article in The Guardian pretty much sums up the blase, nonchalant attitude to events of this week in Madrid.

    Nobody wants to acknowledge the scale of this problem, which has tipped Spain into what I would call an authoritarian State and shows no signs of ending…. People in Madrid still basically believe in Rajoy’s “theory of the souffle”, that is, that Catalan demands for a referendum will eventually wilt like a souffle once you take it out of the oven (not that I have ever made a souffle)

    Giles Tremlett also recently signed off on a biography of Isabel of Castile, one of the two so-called ‘Catholic Kings’ – the other being her husband Fernando -who unified Spain in 1942 and drove the Moors out of Granada, a military victory which Federico García Lorca always deeply regretted. Lorca would rather the Moors had kept it, and anybody who has visited the Moorish palace in Granada, the Alhambra, will immediately understand why.

    Anybody who chooses Isabel of Castile as a subject matter is unlikely to be sympathetic to Catalan demands for self-determination…

    Make no mistake, this is a full scale Constitutional Crisis in Spain, the Catalan situation being the most visible front. How long can a country last governed by a Constitution which can’t be amended, with an archly conservative judiciary who unpick all the hard work of politicians like Zapatero and Artur Mas who had thrashed out a compromise Statute for Catalonia back in 2006? Is there another country in the Europe where a Constitutional Court would dare strike down a Statute approved by two parliaments (Spanish and Catalan) and voted for by the Catalan people in a referendum? I don’t think so.

    It’s madness. It can’t go on. Spain can’t develop and grow because it is being stymied by these reactionary PP appointed judges… but there is no sign of way out.

    1. Douglas says:

      PS: Nicola Sturgeon is absolutely right not to attend these independence marches by the way.

      Any leader of any government or administration must govern for the whole country, not just the people who voted for their political party. If Sturgeon starts attending independence marches, she becomes an activist, and that compromises her position as First Minister of Scotland. She has to govern for all Scots, Unionists and Nationalists alike. It’s a serious and important job and it requires a fair and steady hand. She’s quite right not to attend and people should back off on their criticisms of the FM on those grounds.

      I mention this because Quim Torra, the First Minister of Catalonia. who is terrible, way out of his depth, has fallen into the trap of sounding like an activist and so falls into the contradiction of encouraging his own people to go out protest, who then clash with his own police force: of course, these crowd-police scenarios have a dynamic all of their own…

      When he was asked why his own police force had charged the same protesters he had encouraged to go out and protest, Torra said his Mossos de Esquadra were trying to stop the protesters committing “sedition”…. so the Mossos were kind of doing the protesters a favour according to Torra.

      When I try to follow the logic of that, my head starts aching…. it’s the kind of mind-bending logic you associate with Mariano Rajoy, who Torra reminds me of in some ways…

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