Over 4,200 Catalans suffer repression from Spain for defending the right to self-determination

Over 4,200 Catalans have suffered repression by Spain for peacefully defending the right to self-determination, according to Òmnium Cultural.

“The repression of the Spanish state must be transformed into more civic commitment, more democratic struggle, and more social empowerment,” said the President of Òmnium, Xavier Antich, during an event in Barcelona.

Antich also denounced that the judicial and political persecution of the independence movement is far from over: “The Spanish state has long since ceased to be the guarantor of fundamental rights to become the main perpetrator of its violations.” For this reason, he urged civil society to organize to take advantage of the fight against repression with the ultimate goal of exercising the right to self-determination.

According to figures by Òmnium more than 4,200 people have been retaliated due to political reasons since September 20, 2017. These include 1,432 investigated in criminal proceedings and 1,639 victims of police violence from October 1st to 4th, 2017, and from the protests regarding the independence trial sentence in 2019.

Òmnium has also launched the digital platform antirepressiva. “We have to show the repression of the Spanish State to the world because the state is responsible for the violation of rights by its executive and legislative powers, the police, and the media,” denounced Antich, who added: “They want us to mourn and stay at home; but we take pride in it and show our antirepressive solidarity.”

Spain’s government refuses real dialogue with Catalonia

The Pedro Sánchez administration once again refuses real dialogue with Catalonia and denies the existence of a conflict that was previously recognized by the international community.

Sánchez wants to gather the “negotiating” table between Catalonia and Spain in the last week of July, even though his administration has already warned that important matters will not be discussed. His intention is to whitewash his international image by staging a photo opportunity.

This is happening at a time when the Supreme Court could soon revoke the pardons granted to the 9 pro-independence social civil society leaders and politicians who led the 2017 independence bid. The pro-independence camp has demanded amnesty since the struggle was democratic and no crimes were committed. Amnesty would also prevent the Supreme Court from taking political action in order to unfairly jail Catalan leaders again.

The negotiations between the Catalan and Spanish governments were initially aimed at resolving the ongoing conflict. However, they have only gathered a couple of times in over two years without any results. No even serious discussions have taken place in those meetings.

It is clear, then, that the Spanish government does not want to discuss Catalan independence or amnesty. Instead, it wants to pretend as if Catalonia is no longer pushing for it. Despite the fact that its citizens voted for independence in the last election.

It is also clear that the only possible solution to the conflict necessarily involves letting Catalans exercise their right to self-determination.

Spain refuses to comply with the recommendations of the Council of Europe for human rights in Catalonia

The Council of Europe’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has published the follow-up report to its previous resolution regarding Spanish political issues. The resolution, issued in 2021, called for the release of Catalan political prisoners, legal reform involving sedition, and the end of repression against the independence movement.

In the report, the EU Council rapporteur, Boris Cilevičs, criticizes the extradition orders against Catalan exiles; and the possible overturning of the pardons given to the political prisoners.

“It would be very unusual and unfortunate if the pardons, once announced and implemented to release the nine prisoners, were annulled,” Cilevičs said.

Cilevičs also denounces the fact that the Spanish state has not reformed the crimes of sedition and rebellion in the penal code.

“The reform of the rebellion and sedition laws cannot be postponed too long,” he said, regretting that it was not on the Spanish government’s agenda presently. According to him, this reform is key to Spain’s compliance with Council of Europe standards.

The vast majority of the recommendations made in the report approved in June last year have not been implemented by the Spanish authorities. Even pardons – the only decision made in line with the recommendations – are now threatened by the Supreme Court.

On the extradition orders, the rapporteur criticizes the fact that they are still maintained, especially after the pardons were granted.

“The arrest warrants and extradition requests make no sense, in view of the pardons granted to the nine Catalans imprisoned for the same reasons for which those living abroad are demanded,” he said.

The report refers to the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the temporary restoration of the immunity granted to the exiled MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Antoni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí. It was considered that “they were in serious danger of being arrested” and this temporary immunity will be in place until the Spanish judiciary withdraws the court orders issued against them.

In addition, he believes that the state must ensure that the charge of embezzlement “is applied in a way that a person is liable only when effective and quantified losses can be proven in the state budget or assets.”

The rapporteur criticizes the fact that the lawsuits against low-ranking officials for the 1-O remain open, as well as that the successors of the imprisoned pro-independence leaders who have been penalized for “purely symbolic actions that express their solidarity with the detainees.”

The report also mentions “Catalangate,” which considers a fact linked to the 1-O crisis. According to the rapporteur, it is necessary to investigate cases of espionage using the spyware Pegasus in order to “restore confidence in Spanish institutions.”

No resignations yet within the Spanish government over the mass illegal espionage of Catalans

The Spanish government has once again refused to take responsibility for the illegal mass espionage of Catalans. It has refused an independent investigation and dismissed the ministers of interior and defense, who are believed to be behind the scandal.

When confronted by journalists earlier this week, the Spanish administration said that an independent investigation was not needed because all their actions had “always respected the current legislation.” However, it was proven that there were no court orders for the majority of those who were spied on.

Spanish government espionage affected not only Catalan leaders, but also activists, lawyers, their families, and ordinary people who had never been active in politics.

In any real democracy, an independent investigation would have already taken place and the ministers behind the irregularities would have already been dismissed. This fascist attitude shows the willingness of the Spanish administration to use illegal tools against the Catalan pro-independence movement with one single goal: its total destruction.

The sooner the independence movement realizes that the Spanish right and the pseudo-left are united to destroy a democratic movement, the sooner it will be prepared for the next attempt to achieve full independence.

Spain’s army battalion receives blessings at the fascist monument Valley of the Fallen

A battalion of the Spanish Army received the blessing from the abbot’s Santiago Cantera Montenegro at the fascist monument Valley of the Fallen. This is the newest scandal for the Spanish army because of its links with the Franco regime and the far-right.

In photos posted on social media, the soldiers can be seen kneeling on the ground and presenting their weapons to the abbot.

“May the Lord bless and always keep those who serve the homeland under this banner […]. May the Lord look kindly on Spain and grant it peace with all the peoples of the world,” said Cantera.

According to the newspaper Público, battalion sources said that the blessing ceremony took place last week and was organized by the captain, identified as J. L. P.

It should be noted that Abbot Cantera has repeatedly revealed his far-right ideology. In addition to openly opposing the exhumation of Franco’s remains, he was twice on electoral lists of the fascist Falange Española Independiente between 1993 and 1994.

Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez justifies the mass espionage of the Catalan pro-independence movement

Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez has justified the mass espionage of the Catalan pro-independence movement and has shown his contempt towards the prestigious Canadian organization, Citizen Lab, which uncovered the scandal.

“It was done with full respect for the law,” he insisted. According to him, the Spanish government has always acted in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, though facts prove the contrary. This was his excuse to refuse an independent investigation into the matter.

Regarding the Citizen Lab report, Sánchez said that he had reasonable doubts: “The great majority of mobiles have been intervened by unknown actors and aliens to the Spanish government.” According to him, Citizen Lab has been unable to identify the author of the attacks, though the Pegasus spyware is only used by states and the Spanish intelligence has admitted its regular use against the pro-independence movement.

The Spanish state has launched an offensive against exiled Catalan MEPs

The Spanish state via unionist parties has launched an offensive against Catalan exiles and MEPs. The Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament, led by Adrián Vázquez from Spain’s extremist party C’s, announced that it could not verify the MEP credentials of exiles Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsatí, Toni Comin, as well as Jordi Solé. He asked for Spain’s Electoral authority, which is under influence of the far-right, to make a decision on the matter. However, Vázquez himself admitted that, for the time being, practical problems would not be an issue for them to continue doing their jobs as MEPs.

“The European Parliament has yet to receive any notification and documentation from Spain to prove the four civilians meet the requirements to get the credentials,” he said

The most surprising part of Vázquez’s explanation is that the decision of what should happen to the four MEPs is in the hands of Spain’s electoral authority because they did not swear in the constitution. This is a statement completely contrary to the doctrine of the Court of Justice of the EU set out in the ruling on Oriol Junqueras in December 2019, according to which an MEP has the full status when proclaimed an elected member, without state electoral endorsement. The sentence was ratified by the General Tribunal of the EU, and it was added that the oath of the Spanish constitution was not necessary. This is why the then President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, opened the doors to all four.

The Spanish government refuses to dismiss the ministers behind the massive espionage of Catalans

The Spanish government has refused to dismiss the ministers who were behind the massive espionage of Catalan pro-independence leaders, lawyers, activists, and the general public. Instead, it has dismissed the head of the intelligence service (CNI), Paz Esteban, who was acting upon the orders of the Spanish executive office. The move comes a few days after Esteban admitted that authorities had spied on Catalan pro-independence leaders.

The decision intended as a smokescreen for the big scandal was taken during a regular meeting, under the guise that it was a replacement.

Catalan government: Esteban’s dismissal “not enough”

According to Patrícia Plaja, a spokesperson for the Catalan government, “The change at the head of the Spanish intelligence services does not resolve everything and does not bring an end to the issue. Anyone who believed it was mistaken. It is not enough.” She also called for an investigation to find out who allowed the spying, who ordered it, and who knew about it.”

Minister Robles did not share the reason for Esteban’s removal and thanked her for her work as a director of the intelligence services. The defense minister has also received calls from pro-independence parties to step down, but maintains that she will continue to “serve Spain” as she has done for the last four years,” and that she will act guided by “respect for the rule of law” and “empathy.”

Catalangate

Catalangate is the name given by the Citizen Lab, a University of Toronto-based research group that reports on high-tech human rights abuses, to its investigation into the espionage against several Catalan pro-independence politicians, activists, and their close associates. It is “the largest forensically documented cluster of such attacks and infections on record,” the Yorker magazine.

Over 30 international organizations say that Spanish intelligence agency fails to comply with democratic standards

The use of Pegasus spyware against Europeans, Catalan leaders, human right defenders, lawyers, activists, and the general public has caused over 30 international human rights and civil liberties organizations to have expressed their rejection of the practice.

The organizations said that digital espionage is not “legal or democratic” and an independent investigation is needed to provide clarity.

“The software intercepts all the contents of the device; all apps used and when; as well as geolocation data,” explained Anaïs Franquesa, a human rights lawyer for Irídia.

The groups also called for proper regulation of Spain’s National Intelligence Center (CNI), criticizing the current rules as “vague, indefinite,” and falling short of “the standards of international human rights law.”

Gervanosi, the director of the international institute for nonviolent action NovAct, issued a warning about the widespread use of this technology. “The use of this technology is a flagrant violation of the right to privacy, brings a great deal of vulnerability to victims and involves the violation of the right to [legal] defense and professional secrecy in certain cases.”

Violating EU regulation, the European Commission met with the far-right pro-Spain organization Catalan Civil Society

The EU commissioner of Justice, Didier Reynders, met with the far-right organization Catalan Civil Society (SCC) in December 2021 without being registered in the Transparency Register of the EU, which is a violation of EU regulations.

The EU internal code of conduct prohibits commissioners from meeting with organizations that are not registered.

The code of conduct

“Commissioners and members of their cabinet may only meet with those organizations or autonomous individuals that are registered in the Transparency Register (…) to the extent that they fall within its scope,” says Article 7. of code of conduct of the community executive.

The Transparency Register is a database that includes; stakeholders, organizations, associations, groups, and self-employed people who carry out activities to influence EU policy and decision-making.