One year after the UN demanded the release of Catalonia’s political prisoners, Spain keeps them in prison, systematically violating international law. We demand that Spain obeys the UN’s decision and for the right to self-determination to be respected.
A few days ahead of the sentences against the nine Catalan and political leaders in pre-trial detention since autumn 2017, Spanish authorities launch an operation to criminalize independentism and demobilise Catalan protesters.
On September the 23rd, nine Catalan activists were arrested by the Spanish police, accused of terrorism and rebellion without clear evidence. On September the 26th, seven of the accused were sent to pre-trial detention without bail. The operation has been called for by Spain’s National Court (Audiencia Nacional) in Madrid, direct heir of the Francoist Public Order Court.
These nine activists, whose crimes are to defend the right to self-determination of the Catalan people and who have not committed any crime, but who instead are accused of allegedly wanting to commit sabotage. Except for two cases, the home entrances and searches of the accused were performed without the presence of their legal representatives. Moreover, both the legal representatives of the accused and the local Members of the Bar Association (Col·legi d’Advocats) were kept in the dark for 48 h about the actual crimes the accused were charged for.
Two of the accused’s lawyers were forcefully replaced by state-appointed legal aid lawyer and in unsettling circumstances, their clients were interrogated uninterruptedly for 7 and 8 hours respectively during the early hours of September 24th-25th, without the statutory minimum period of rest. Details on the proceedings have been leaked to Spanish media outlets with the intention to create a negative initial image of the detainees, to which their lawyers still did not have access. The presumption of innocence has not been respected either. These circumstances are a blatant violation of the rights to defence of the detainees.
This is another attempt to intimidate and criminalize the Catalan pro-independence movement on the eve of the 2nd anniversary of the 1st of October 2017 referendum, which strategically coincides with the upcoming release of the sentences of the nine Catalan social and political leaders in prison. The court will most likely ask the highest penalty- up to 25 years of jail and 25 years of public representation ban- for calling for peaceful protests and exercising their prerogatives of calling for a referendum for the independence of Catalonia, (in October 2017) following the democratic will of the Catalan people, which provides steps towards achieving a Catalan state.
As with many other cases with the Spanish anti-terrorism law, there does not appear to be any true indications that violent actions were being planned, and Spain is again using criminal law to coerce the Catalan minority into not voicing their political opinions or exercising their right to protest.
In April 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression urged the Spanish authorities to refrain from pursuing criminal charges of rebellion against political figures and protesters belonging to the Catalan minority involved in the independence referendum. In early 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues stated, that “non-violent political dissent by minorities should not give rise to criminal charges” and joined “the concerns” of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression.
Against those warnings, in June this year, in its findings related to the trials of the Catalan independence leaders, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions stated “that the purpose of the criminal charge and the resulting trial is to coerce them on account of the political opinions they have expressed”, and called on the Spanish government for their immediate release.
The improper use of the anti-terrorism law and other high crimes has a chilling effect on public participation. Spain is again using criminal law to coerce the Catalan minority into not voicing their political opinions. Consequently, many Catalans are increasingly afraid to engage in public life.
The deterioration of the situation concerning civil and political rights in one EU member state is an issue that erodes the whole legitimacy of the European integration project, as it directly goes against one of its main foundations: the respect for democracy and fundamental rights. Therefore, it sets a dangerous precedent for all European Citizens.
The situation in Spain and EU institutions inaction also attacks the credibility of the European Union as a democratic project, and therefore its capacity to project influence overseas.
Spain’s “justice” as an example for Erdogan’s Turkey to justify itself of committing human rights abuse. It is time for Europe to stand against Spain’s persecution of Catalan leaders for crimes they didn’t commit. The Catalan case is an opportunity for Europe to show the world how to solve political issues through politics and Democracy. Otherwise, criticism against non-EU countries doing the exact same thing is just hypocrisy.
‘Mr Soylu linked the removal and prosecution of the elected officials to Spain’s moves against elected Basque and Catalan elected officials who became part of separatist movements.
“Although there is no violent act, 12 Catalan officials were prosecuted for crimes of destroying constitutional order through violence and disobedience,” he said.’
⬛️⬜️ Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell will be the new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs.
We would like to bid farewell to Mr Borrell, so we have collected a bit of his “record”.
Catalans are delighted to say Farewell Borrell, but is he really the best choice for the EU? There’s still time to #StopBorrell
⬛️⬜️🇪🇺 23 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (@coe / Strasbourg) have signed a Written declaration demanding to ‘safeguard the democratic rights of Catalan parliamentarians’.
“75 years ago the Normandy landings turned the tide of World War II thanks to the efforts of a Barcelona-born spy who the British knew as ‘Garbo’ ”
‘In fact, the reason Pujol was in Normandy 35 years ago, four years before his death, was part of the recognition the British authorities finally awarded him for his spying work as a double agent deceiving Nazi Germany about the Allies’ true intentions in 1944.
Pujol is better known by his codename “Garbo,” after the famous Hollywood starlet of the time Greta Garbo (he was “Alaric” to his German handlers), but when he first offered his spying services to British military intelligence he was turned down, three times.’
‘So successful was Garbo’s manipulation of both fake and real information that the Germans ended up financing a network of 27 fictitious agents, and even stopped recruiting spies in the UK. In fact, Pujol was awarded the Iron Cross for his “services” to the German war effort.’
‘For his effectiveness and loyalty, the British made Garbo a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), and when the Allies began preparing for D-Day, which would see an invasion force of 160,000 landing in Normandy, they turned to Pujol for help.’
‘While the Germans had got wind of the plans for Operation Overlord being commemorated this week, Garbo distracted them with Operation Fortitude, a deception campaign in which the Catalan spy convinced the Nazis that the main attack would be at Pas de Calais.
Garbo got to work, sending the Germans over 500 radio messages between January 1944 and D-Day. That split the German forces and prevented them from reinforcing their defences in Normandy where the actual invasion was set to take place.’
‘After the war, Garbo avoided Nazi reprisals by faking his death and moving to Venezuela, where he ran a small business. It was only thanks to detective work done by a former British politician and writer, Rupert Allason, that the world was reacquainted with this unlikely hero.’
‘Pujol’s legend lived on and his story was told in a 2009 film called Garbo: The Spy. As the world commemorates the efforts of thousands of soldiers on Thursday, one hopes a thought will be spared for a Barcelona poultry farmer who was key in bringing down Hitler’s regime.’
Extracts from article: http://www.catalannews.com/culture/item/the-catalan-who-made-d-day-possible
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called for the immediate release of three imprisoned pro-independence leaders: activists Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, and former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras.
A report by the group, published by the ‘Nació Digital’ and ‘El País’ newspapers, asks for compensation for all three and considers their detention and imprisonment to be a violation of fundamental rights, especially freedom of speech.
Among the conclusions, they argue that the imprisonment of Junqueras, Sànchez and Cuixart is arbitrary, and that Spain must adopt the necessary measures to repair the situation without delay. It also requires that they be granted the right to obtain compensation in accordance with international law.
The verdict issued by the UN is not binding, but it will be very important to build the future lawsuit in the Strasbourg Court if Spain disobeys it.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detenctions depends on the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is part of the Secretariat of the organization and has been entrusted by the General Assembly to uphold human rights in the world.
Their defense in this international cause is led by lawyer Ben Emmerson, specializing in human rights and international criminal law. Throughout his career, he has appeared before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the International Criminal Court in the Hague and the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
We’d like to celebrate Sant Jordi with you, so we’ve created an Instagram account where we want to share your photos of how Catalans celebrate Sant Jordi in different parts of the US.
Are you a Catalan living in the US? Do you live in Catalonia and want to show to people in the US how you celebrate Sant Jordi? Do you want to send a message to Catalans living in the US to wish them a Happy Saint George’s Day?
Share your pictures with us at email@example.com along with the message you want to share and your Instagram user (if you have one) so we can tag you. We will pick the best ones and publish them in our Instagram account from April 23rd to April 28th, when we will celebrate Sant Jordi at the Kensington Day of the Book Festival.
And make sure you follow us on Instagram so you don’t miss any of the photos!
You don’t know what Sant Jordi is? You can find information on this beautiful Catalan tradition on these sites:
International Trial Watch (ITW), a platform composed of organisations working to defend human rights and liberties, is closely monitoring the Catalan referendum trial. Different international scholars, human rights activists and members of parliament are being invited by ITW to monitor the development of the trial and assess if the rights of the defence parties are upheld.
The website of ITW contains a lot of information on the trials, the profiles of the defendants and the accusers, and a lot more. It offers this information mainly in Spanish and in English, but they also offer their weekly reports in French (semaine 1, semaine 2, semaine 3, semaine 4, semaine 5). We consider this information to be valuable and worth disseminating. This week, you will find on its website its newest assessment of the trial, of the 5th week.
Catalonia is living in a police state, with Catalan police following orders from Spanish prosecutor’s office and the Spanish Electoral Board (with several of its members being also part of the Spanish Supreme Court, which is currently in charge of the trial against Catalan leaders). They are now conducting searches in public schools, during teaching hours, searching for yellow ribbons inside teacher’s drawers and criticizing the amount of yellow color on students’ crafts, covering murals and removing purple loops of support for International Women’s Day.
‘The Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan police) have this Friday entered various public schools around Catalonia to remove any yellow loops or other political symbols. The force has told El Nacional it’s acting on orders from public prosecutors, after the Central Electoral Board denounced the presence of such symbols on public buildings.’
‘In the case of a school in Badalona, where there were no loops, the officers reportedly criticised the presence of the colour yellow in kids’ crafts displayed in the corridors. They also searched the teachers’ room, classrooms and bathrooms. A rural school in Perafita reports they’ve had to remove even the lilac loops of support for International Women’s Day.’