Notes from the working group on repression and political prisoners, at the WithCatalonia International Meeting
Saturday, 16 December, 5pm
Speakers: Jesús (La Directa), Marta (Iridia i Som Defensores), Ignasi (Minotaure Report), Mireia (CGT), Helena (Alfon Support Group), Nestor (SAT), Arran, Insurgencies, Xarxa de Familiars (Network of families of detainees)
Jesús, La Directa (social movement newspaper)
Description of the events of 1 October and the forces and strategies applied. The thousands of Spanish police and civil guard deployed in Catalonia include 80% of the state’s riot police. The commanders plan a televised operation that, by spreading fear among the public, may provoke the closure and self-closure of most of the 2,300 polling stations.
The people who have taken on the task of defending the schools modify the previously announced strategy (that of queuing up and thus forming a barrier), to complicate and delay the action of the armed security forces.
The best way to face repression is determination and a mass mobilisation that collapses the repressive machinery.
Marta, Iridia and Som defensores (social movement legal networks)
Iridia and the Federation of NGOs (LaFede) decide to create 3 teams.
A team of human rights observers: 70 people to collect testimonies, in 18 groups that cover almost all of Barcelona’s polling stations. These people were in contact with the Iridia headquarters where they sent reports and photos of police charges. At the end of the day, the observers passed on all the material recorded on their phones and made reports on police charges with information on witnesses and victims. Iridia systematised the info to use it in legal claims.
Legal team: 60 lawyers with 2 telephone lines, one for police violence and the other for arrests.
Psychosocial team, with 30 psychologists. One mobile (for example, at the Ramon Llull, where rubber bullets were used, causing serious injuries to a citizen) and a static one where emotional help was provided. In view of the volume of victims, Iridia establishes a service together with Barcelona council to serve the victims who want it. 3 weeks and 300 people attended, 65 physically. Most are legal complaints.
The photos and videos are enabling us to identify agents despite the fact that all the police protocols were ignored, and to present evidence: witnesses and graphic material.
The complaints are directed against specific identified agents and police commanders, since the police charges reproduced the same modus operandi. We have requested copies of communications between senior police officers and field commanders.
Mireia, CGT (trade union)
State repression has been evident in the strikes over the last 7 years, with arrests, assaults and legal proceedings. The right to strike in theory is protected by the constitution but is regulated by preconstitutional norms. Hence the series of criminal proceedings for assault and resistance to authority.
The consequence is that, in addition to fighting for rights of the working class as such, we must constantly carry out an anti-repressive task.
These are situations that sometimes demobilize us, we do not go to demonstrations and we do not exercise other rights because of the fear of being sanctioned.
There is another repression: employment repression for exercising the few rights that are left to us in the workers’ statute. Many of us suffer indirect state repression, because it is the state that regulates labour regulations, and directly from companies. Employers and their necessary accomplices, the majority unions. Added prison that is exercised daily.
In the last strikes, the combative unions have not only suffered repression in the street, but they have experienced difficulties in workplaces for participating in strikes not called by the majority unions.
Ignasi, Minotaur of 78 report on institutional violence
The regime of 1978 violates our rights; 466 political prisoners since the approval of the constitution. A regime of power that systematically violates rights. We have reached the point where exceptionality is the norm.
The report is divided into 7 parts with the cases:
- State repression in public institutions: 9 N legal complaint against the parliamentary committee, mayors accused.
- State repression in the preparation and holding of the referendum: police raids on printing presses, closure of websites, people injured.
- Freedom of expression in institutions: councillor Joan Coma, parliamentary committee, commission, “hate crime” as a new way of repressing critics
- Political participation. Suspension of acts in Valencia and threats from extreme right. In Vitoria the local police suspend an event. Siege of the CUP HQ, without court order.
- Crusade against symbols (vs mayor of Berga, Badalona for opening council premises on October 12)
- 155 suspension of self-government
- Parastatal element in far-right (Valencia 80, Basque country, one more element of the state apparatus).
It is not a problem only of the PP but a structural problem of the regime of 78. Judiciary, legislature, mass media and far-right.
Two conclusions: the level of police brutality and repression maintain status quo of the regime of power. Violence a basic part of the system
Helena, mother of Alfon
Vallecas neighbourhood. Alfon was arrested in the general strike of 14 November 2014 in a picket of 600/700 people. Against cuts in health, education and labour rights. Alfon, 21 years old, anti-fascist coordinator, Marxist Leninist and member of the Bukaneros fan club of Rayo Vallecano. We know that this is an ideal prey for the state because of ideology and militancy.
Police set up: creation of stories and evidence, something typical in the Spanish state.
They use the law at will: risk of flight and lack of roots. The lawyer who appeals is told that it is because of social alarm, which did not appear before.
Demonstrations even at state-wide level, a campaign platform with several commissions: communication, actions, fundraising and institutional. That goes beyond prevention. All cases are equal.
November, trial. Contradictions in the police statements, chain of custody broken three times, no fingerprints and in conclusion we thought that they could not condemn him. Political trial, the questions were all about the movement and its relationships. Sentenced to 4 years for possession of explosives.
Urban wall (learned from Euskadi) in the parish with 500 people.
Nestor, SAT (Andaluz Workers’ Union)
600 cases. General strikes and more. Land occupations. Cerro Libertad BBVA Jaén, one year’s occupation. 17 people on trial. Córdoba: Somonte occupied 5 years + 50 tried. Half a million euros in fines. Mass actions
How we face repression:
Fines and individualisation: judicial insubordination. Make visible the repression of trade unionism. If they don’t imprison you, it seems that there is no repression. The fine does more damage because it weakens the movement. March in Madrid (Bódalo) 27 days hunger strike in Madrid. European Parliament. Cup motion in parliament. Several city councils. Cooperative economy for olive oil through social networks, money to pay lawyers and fines.
Audiencia Nacional (Special Court) sees it as terrorism. Year and a half of process. Campaigns at the local level. We are waiting for the Supreme court. From 4 months to a year, we do not know. You can follow the campaign on social networks.
Occupation of PP HQ on 27 March. Campaign for the yes in the referendum. 16 36 years in total for damages, disorders with aggravating violence and ideological discrimination (hate crime). It is a political judgment. When people are cited they do not show up: disobedience. Mossos and Spanish National Police went to find those cited.
Precautionary measures grind down your political activity.
More political action, more organisation, more work on the street is the only way to fight against repression.
Xarxa antirepressiva familiars detingudes (Antirepression network of families of detainees)
The Xarxa (Network) was created in late 2014. Context: general strikes, antifascist protests of 12 October and repression of the defenders of fundamental rights, Montoro cases in Vilanova i la Geltrú, at the end of the 2014 campaign provocation of the PP aggression of youth and accusations against them. Relatives of Can Vies, May 2014 all these and more pushed relatives – mothers – opposed to arbitrary accusations and irregular arrests to establish the network. Main objective: to accompany relatives of detained people, prosecuted in the context of dissent. We come from very different experiences and sensibilities. Some knew about the political activities of their children and others didn’t. Some were formerly activists and others weren’t.
Psychosocial support. It is emotionally tough when they arrest your child and people say “they must have done something”. Understand that it is healthy that there is dissidence: there are ideas, a language, approaches that governments should listen to. We give each other mutual support and offer a different story to the media, administrations, organisations that have a responsibility and capacity for legislative changes and modifications of their protocols.
We try to create links with similar organisations and give each other support in this struggle that is not a passing issue.
Conclusions of the Salon del Tinell event: strength, solidarity, fraternity, sisterhood, dignity, courage, trust, generosity and mutual support, unity.