Spain: human rights abuses and political prosecution

Concerning our organisation (ANC): Our former chairman Jordi Sànchez, in the quality of our chairman, is being held in prison, together with Jordi Cuixart, the chairman of our sister civil society organisation Òmnium Cultural, for defending the right to demonstrate.

On the 20th of September 2017, spontaneous protests broke out in Barcelona. The militarised police Guardia Civil was raiding Catalan government offices early in the morning of that day. As people became aware of these acts, they went out to protest. As Spanish law, introduced by Mariano Rajoy’s government and still maintained (the Gag law or Ley Mordaza for example), is excessively repressive against demonstrations, ANC communicated to the Interior Ministry – at 10.23 A.M. – its intention to demonstrate at the Catalan Economy Ministry, where the biggest part of protests were going on. As such, ANC protected the demonstrators against prosecution and immoderate fines and made itself at the same time responsible for this demonstration. Although there was no violence and although the peaceful crowd was urged to quietly disband and go home by both Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, after mediation with the judicial committee and Guardia Civil, they are now being held on charges of sedition and rebellion, implying again violence was involved. These arrests are excessive and clearly politically motivated.

Before the Oct 1 referendum, our local branches saw police confiscating campaign material on independence – even t-shirts with just a SI (YES) on it -, disassembling campaign stands, all without a specific court order. On Sept 20 2017, a member of the ANC’s national board was detained, her car searched and volunteer vests, banners and flyers were confiscated, as has happened in hundreds of situations all over the country where members of our organisation were being identified and intimidated by police forces just because they were manifesting their will to vote. On Sept 25, our website was blocked on orders of the Guardia Civil in a clear attempt to censor civil society. We never received a court order or a notification, as the Guardia Civil acted under a general and discretionary court order, giving it excessive censorship powers. This happened with more than 140 other websites. On Jan 1, our website was available again, without any notification. The Guardia Civil acts as such as a political police force that has absolute carte blanche to censor civil society at its discretion.