Catalan National Assembly denounces hate speech against the Catalan minority at the United Nations

The Catalan National Assembly (Assemblea) has taken part in the 13th session of the Forum on Minority Issues which focused on Hate Speech, Social Media and Minorities, and together with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), held the presentation of a report on hate speech against the Catalan national minority

The Catalan National Assembly has taken part in the 13th session of the Forum on Minority Issues, focusing on Hate Speech, Social Media, and Minorities. In representation of the organization, Assemblea’s general board member Carles Fité took the floor during the inaugural session, where he warned of the rise of hate speech against the Catalan national minority in Spain in the past years.

Mr. Fité highlighted that “Since 2017, Spanish media have often portrayed Catalans negatively, using epithets such as terrorists, supremacists, racists or treacherous. Dehumanization has paved the way to more violent statements, especially in social media”. This is part of a “systematic campaign of repression against the Catalan movement for self-determination, including the persecution of 2850 activists and representatives, and the imprisonment of 9 civil and political leaders.”, as Mr. Fité has denounced.

Other organizations, such as UNPO have highlighted the fact that the “Catalan minority is widely subjected to hate speech online”, and that Spanish legislation “has been used not to protect, but rather to intimidate and prosecute Catalans working for the right to self-determination”.

During the Forum, and coinciding with the topic of this edition, the Catalan National Assembly and UNPO also held an international webinar focusing on the alarming findings of the report by Aix Global Justice and UNPO on hate speech against the Catalan minority by Spanish media, institutions and social media users, followed by a discussion on the alarming trends regarding this issue.

During the webinar, the president of Assemblea Nacional Catalana, Elisenda Paluzie, stated that stated that “the growth of hate speech and the use of hate crimes against the Catalan national minority is taking place in a context of growing repression against the Catalan people and their struggle for self-determination, especially since 2017 ”. The Case Manager at Aix Global Justice, Indira Boutier, insisted that “there has been a worrying increase in hate speech against national minority Catalan, and violations of international and European legislation by the Spanish authorities. The Spanish legal framework is open to an authoritarian interpretation of the law, accompanied by a very conservative judiciary, which the state uses as a tool to maintain territorial integrity.”

Journalist and coordinator of the Catalan Critical Media Observatory Mè, Elisenda Rovira, highlighted several examples of hate speech and Catalanophobia in the main media outlets in Spain, and insisted that “the presence of Catalanophobia in the Spanish media goes back a long way. It has been used to maintain political power and has severely affected the plurality of media in the state, leading to violence; while at the same time criticizing the alleged lack of plurality of the Catalan public media, despite being more neutral according to empirical evidence”. The webinar was moderated by International Human Rights Lawyer and Secretary General of the Unrepresented Nations’ and Peoples’ Organization (UNPO), Ralph Bunche who also reminded that “the Spanish abuse of the legislation against the Catalan national minority, especially in a situation like COVID19 pandemic, is particularly worrying. Hate speech is an endemic problem in Spain and has not only been addressed to the Catalan minority, but also to other national minorities.”

In March 2020, UN rapporteur on Minority Issues Fernand de Varennes presented a report which highlighted  the significant increase in hate speech, vilification, vandalism, physical threats and even assaults against members of the Catalan minority, as well as allegations that these complaints are not investigated, thus increasing Spanish nationalist intolerance of the Catalan minority.

Watch the webinar here

Read the executive summary on the report on hate speech against the Catalan minority here. The complete report will be published in the next few days, and will be available in the website of UNPO and the Catalan National Assembly