Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Joaquim Forn (Catalan Political Prisoner) Partner: " in times of adversity, you can either go under, or you make yourself stronger"

How are you feeling and how is the minister Forn?
Laura Masvidal: With us, it depends on the day. You try to keep your head clear to face what the day throws at you. I do not want to ever feel beaten and, in fact, I don't feel beaten. But the stress of everything means that my body reaches a point where it says to me: “Laura, stop”. But in terms of emotional balance I am quite well. My daughters are amazingly well. Their evolution has been spectacular. And Joaquim feels very satisfied and says so in his letters. It may be difficult to believe that, in times of adversity, you can either go under, or you make yourself stronger. The girls are very eager to do battle. The younger one is thoroughly busy, she's taken charge of a lot, taken on responsibilities. The older one is in London. It's very difficult to handle the distance.

And just two minutes after we have started the interview, Laura's sister Emma comes in with her mobile phone. Almost frantic she says: “It's Joaquim!" Joaquim Forn is making his daily call to his wife. Four minutes of fast talking used to organize some formalities and ask about the nearest and dearest. Once the call is over, we return to the conversation.

How is he?
I never know how to answer that. Physically he is well. I see him as different. This has been a major commotion in his life. A point of inflection. He has carried out a very reflective exercise and has tried to understand his imprisonment. Now he has half done so, and he knows that he cannot rebel, he cannot programme the future... There is a whole series of things that he can't do, but there are others than he can. He is very rigorous with his hourly discipline, scrupulous with exercise, he knows that he has to look after himself. He is a close observer of the different psychologies, he observes the penitentiary system, makes a lot of reflections, he spends a lot of time reading letters to understand the essence of the collective, not so much at personal level, but to come to understand the motivations of the movement; and he writes a lot.

What does he write?
He writes reflections, sensations, so as to remember them afterwards, and he writes many anecdotes because he thinks that anecdotes can bring things out. He is going through an evolution. I see him as very strong. He came to a halt after a long period of frantic activity. He had been complaining that he didn't have time to reflect and what he is doing now is reflecting. He has created an interior world for himself and he has proposed that the humiliation will not go any further and it keeps him very strong. He is trying to see the world from a point where he is isolated. He's a person who is used to having information appearing every minute or every second, and all of a sudden he does not have that. Information reaches him through media that requires him to read between the lines, because it is very deceptive, and through intermediaries, and from press that arrives a week or five days late, and with all of that he forms an opinion. It's a very different way to what he was used to.

How often do you see each other?
At first we saw each other every week. But it is such an absurd and exhausting way of seeing someone that he decided not to do it every week. He is aware that the calm he has there inside has nothing in common with my crazy rhythm outside, when I was becoming very tired, it's a very long way to go for 40 minutes together with glass between us, you spend all the time just doing housekeeping, it's a very cold way of relating to someone and there are many people who want to see him and that he also wants to see. We decided after Christmas to do the family visits and the conjugal visits. They are twice a month and the occasional weekend. More or less, I see him every two weeks, and we speak almost every day.

There are the family meetings and the conjugal visits. Have the conjugal visits made an impact on you?
The conjugal visit is one of the harshest experiences I have had in my life. Especially the first and the second one. They were very hard. A couple relationship that has gone on for many years has baggage of a lot of complicity of many things you have been through... In keeping a marriage healthy and stable for many years there is a lot of effort and you suppose that there is a lot of complicity and understanding. Suddenly, you enter a room. You don't know what he expects from the encounter, you don't know what state of mind he is in... It is two weeks since you last saw each other, you have only spoken by phone about formalities... and now you enter a room where it's just you and him. And it should be a warm encounter and at once there is something cold between you, and neither he nor you know how to break the ice. You have a lot of communication you want to transmit but as you don't know how to prioritize it, you get blocked. And this is mutual. The encounter is very hard and the aesthetics of the room... there's a folding bed, they tell you “have a good time”, they suppose that you go there to have an intimate time and there is this enormous cold that is anything but intimate... and you leave feeling destroyed.

Did you get to the point of proposing to not go again?
I said: “I won't do it again”, but the lawyer tells you: “Laura, what are you saying? For you it's horrible, but for him it is half a life. You mustn't disparage the conjugal visits”. The second time was very hard and then I asked for help from an expert and that helped me a lot. And the third time you turn it all around, you talk about the previous times: “How terrible it was, let's see if we can take advantage of the time, let's relax”. And that was good for me because deep down it was just expressing in words my sensations that more or less coincided with his. The third time went very well, there was a lot of complicity, a lot of togetherness, all of a sudden, I didn't know if the room was attractive or ugly any more because I didn't even see it... But it took me three months. Overall it's very artificial.

Now that you experience it close at hand, what do you think of the penitentiary system?
We shut people in prison, isolating them, when what we want is to re-insert them into society. Closing them up in a parallel world where the contact with the exterior is very complicated. We have resources, we know how to make an appeal, we know how to send a contract, we know how to prove things, but the reality of the prison is very uneven. There are people who are educated, but then there are people who even have problems speaking our language, and they don't know what an appeal is. Isolating them, afterwards it is impossible to re-insert them. I see it as a huge aberration. The visits behind the glass, remind of going to visit Floquet de Neu [a famous gorilla at Barcelona zoo]. What's the sense of the glass? Why?

You follow very closely everything that appears in the media, beyond the rulings that reach you from the lawyers...
This is a thing that I knew happened, but when you experience it yourself it shocks you greatly: the press learns about things before the lawyer. It's something we all need to ensure gets looked at, but that's how it is. At first it is all very distressing. At first I was constantly hung up on the issue of the independence process. It generated huge stress in me, I couldn't rest, and managing so much information meant my head was not where it had to be. I have made a little communicative blocking-out. Many things happen in the world. It is very serious what is happening here, but we cannot be flagellating ourselves all day long. We cannot forget the situation and we have to fight for it, but we can't be doing it all day long because it is insane.

Is Joaquim paying the price of the good management of the terrorist attack?
The attack in August was a bombshell. I thought that it was the worst crisis that an interior minister could face. For many years our police force [the Mossos d'Esquadra] have been capable and well-trained. Joaquim understood where the political and police responsibilities lay and he was intelligent and delegated all the technical parts to the police commands. Doing that revealed a well organized structure, that it was an efficient police force, and allowed it to shine. At the meeting of the crisis cabinet for the attack with [Spanish PM] Mariano Rajoy and [deputy PM] Soraya Saénz de Santamaria, Rajoy was presiding over the meeting but those who had to speak were the ones who spoke - the commanders of the Mossos. And Joaquim saw clearly how the Spanish leaders were dislocated because they saw that the Spanish state in Catalonia was relegated to presiding over a meeting. That day he said to me: “We will pay dearly for this”. But I rather think that he is paying for have shown the failure of the secret services to stop the referendum of 1st October. He is paying and they are making us all pay for it. If we had challenged them but had not shown them up, we would not be where we are.

Do you have the sensation that, since he is in jail, some good has to come from all this?
We think that from outside. He does not feel that he himself is an issue, deep down. And I believe that he has already served and he also believes it. The thing is, we now need to choose our steps well.

Do the two of you feel annoyed or concerned about the apparent inability to form a Catalan government and about the line it will follow?
He has had moments when he has been very annoyed because has seen that things had to be done in a certain way. Really, it's very complicated, because the paths are now very difficult politically, because if we want to take small steps forward, we'll have to let it be seen that we renounce some things. And people do not want to renounce things. I don't think it's good either, but if we don't do it, we won't move forward. This contradiction can be seen in the politicians. Seeing it from here is not the same as perceiving the temperature of the country from in prison or from exile. Those that are in prison do not perceive the temperature of the country because they are isolated and those that are abroad perceive it through their intermediaries, the best approach is difficult to know, but I don't want to believe that they have defeated us. We have to keep on getting it right by being very intelligent. There are many people who have complained that things were not well explained to them. Perhaps if they had been well explained, we wouldn't have come so far. Not everything can be explained. Do I like this? I don't know. You probably have to be very intelligent with strategies which afterwards somebody will reproach you for... You have to be conscious of that. And we the people have to be collectively conscious that politics will not reach where we hope it will reach and, therefore, it now depends on each one of us. Implication and commitment will help this country to go forward or back.

Do you worry that things that are said by the pro-independence political groups ERC, JxCat or the CUP could have a negative effect on the prisoners?
At first I worried greatly and one of my daughters gave me a lot of help. She told me that she refused to self-censor her opinions because that might influence the opinion of the judge or the juridical situation of her father, as if that could happen, the country is sicker than we fear, or is worsening every day. The judge can argue what he wants, but if we all have to be hanging on what he will say... then we have already accepted that he is a hostage. If they want to make the prison for all four prisoners dependent on what we do, then they will do so. And they are doing so. Collectively we will have to decide what we do and they with their forces will have to decide if they continue repressing the movement.

Are you hopeful for Tuesday, in the hearing to review the preventive prison?
Yes. (Laughs) Today, suddenly... I do not know why, yes. I am a natural optimist and I am very hopeful about everything. The objective on Tuesday is basic. Joaquim's prison is becoming an eternity because I consider it to be horrible. It is like collective prison. I am hopeful about Tuesday, about Joaquim coming back, about the prisoners leaving jail and that things starts moving. But the case continues, the trial is pending, the Catalan government is flimsy, the majority are under accusations, they have decapitated those that they wanted to, Catalan culture is threatened... Yes, I am hopeful about Tuesday and for a better future, but I am very conscious that we are in a very dark tunnel.

Joaquim has had to renounce politics...
They have truncated his political future and they have truncated his life. But we attempt to pull something positive from adversity. It is true that they have definitively truncated his political future. It was his passion and his vocation, but I believe that the country has demonstrated that beyond politics you can also do many good things.

Media sensations like the reports that he had caught tuberculosis, do they help? Do they increase the stress?
Media episodes like this one make me ask myself once again why information that should not be released comes out of a court and why it comes out in a certain way. It is true that in the appeal there was the positive result he had for exposure to tuberculosis, in addition to a whole series of arguments that asked for the review of his preventive detention, such as the declarations of the Mossos. Joaquim, probably because he has been in prison, has had contact with the tuberculosis bacteria. Now he will have to have preventive treatment. In the news story why does this appear and not the rest? I don't know. Why do they say that this has been invented? Nothing has been invented. He has to have preventive treatment. And to include it in the appeal is saying to the judge: “Why do you keep people in prison preventively with the risk that they acquire certain illnesses?"

Has he made friends in prison?
He is a person with a sociable nature and needs sociability. He always looks for empathy with people independently of what they have done. He has established relationships. He says that they are friends, I believe that they are simply relationships. I believe that he is healthy. Isolating oneself completely from relationships in prison would not do anything for him. There are murderers, kidnappers... he says that they are friends.

Do they know that he was an interior minister?
Yes, and they have a great respect for him. They are a little amazed that he is there and don't understand it. And there is a certain solidarity and empathy towards them and he feels well treated, not so much from the prison staff, but from the prisoners. Joaquim is a big Barça football supporter and he has shared this passion with the others and they often bang on the doors when there's a match on. Now he wants to start a supporters' group.

Source: 'El Nacional'

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spanish violation of Human Rights dennounced at the UN HQ in Geneve

Human rights defenders have taken the case of Catalonia to the UN to reveal Spain's repressive attitude to the issue. This Monday March 19th, the United Nations headquarters in Geneva has been the stage for a conference on the regression of human rights in Spain, organised by the Catalan Institute of Human Rights and other associations which work in the area.

Attendees at the event included Catalan president Carles Puigdemont (JxCat, Together for Catalonia), former CUP (Candidacy of Popular Unity) deputy Anna Gabriel and MEP Jordi Solé (ERC, Catalonia's Republican Left), showing an image of unity of the independence movement in the face of the violation of human rights in Catalonia.

The panel included Martín Pallín, a former Supreme Court judge; Michael Hamilton, senior lecturer in public protest law at the University of East Anglia (UK); Rafael Ribó, Catalonia's ombudsman; lawyer Anaïs Franquesa; and Margalida Capellà, professor of international public law at the University of the Balearic Islands. It also featured emotional testimony from Laura Masvidal, wife of Joaquim Forn, and a presentation from the president of the Institute of Human Rights of Catalonia, David Bondia.

The event also included a showing of some of the chilling images of police violence recorded during last year's independence referendum, shaking some of the attendees, as they described during the question period after the speeches.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Catalonia: The Choice between Freedom and Bondage

In recent months, Spanish law has totally lost its legitimacy. The sentences by Spanish courts Courts, as well as the actions at Minstrial level have essentially turned Spanish justice into “legal injustice”. It is to be expected that judges, prosecutors, and members of the Spanish Government, who are responsible for violations of fundamental rights, will be held accountable to an international court for their actions.

For Catalans, the Catalan Republic and freedom, is achievable, provided that they act in a resolute and coherent way. If they doubt themselves and accept the legal / illegal orders of the Spanish State, they will lose and they will never again have an opportunity to make a reality out of their dream of their own state come true, nor will there ever be another opportunity like this one.
The right to self-determination of the Catalan people will not be achieved through obedience to Spain and its courts, only through massive disobedience. In fact, the Spanish state has lost all legitimacy in Catalonia to because of its repressive behavior.

The international community is really only concerned with the entity who effectively controls territory. While this continues to be the Spanish State, the Government of Catalonia has no chance of successfully applying the right of self-determination to the Catalan people.
The objective of the PP is to force Catalonia to submit, once and for all, to destroy the Catalan institutions and to perpetuate the economic exploitation of Catalonia. Any resignation on the part of Catalans will help Spain and harm Catalonia.

It would be a mistake to believe that Catalonia could negotiate a more favorable reform of the Statute and continue in Spain without further problems. It’s all or nothing for Catalonia. Spain will suffocate the region economically and culturally and Catalonia and will continue as a colony of Spain.
For every politician who is imprisoned by the Spanish State, two more must be put forward. Cowards will lose this fight. Prudence, dedication, and the conviction that a just cause always ends up triumphant, will lead Catalonia to its own State.

If Spain continues to violate human rights and oppresses Catalonia, it will become a “pariah” state which will be condemned, in the long run, and ostracized internationally, as occured a long time ago to the Republic of South Africa.
Nobody likes to be a martyr. But in the current situation, Catalonia needs patriots ready to sacrifice themselves if necessary. Junqueras and Puigdemont were and are such people. Both deserve a place of honor, not only in the History of Catalonia, but also in the whole of Europe.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) elects a New Chair

The Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) is a network of local councils. This entity was born in December 14, 2011 in the city of Vic. Nowadays it has the support of 786 town councils out of the 948 total Catalan local councils. The AMI wants to internationalise the pro-independence process in Catalonia from the local sphere. It has therefore launched a campaign to explain the pro-independence process. On March 15th the association elected Josep Maria Cervera as a new chair of the demcoratic association. Cervera from the Democratic Catalan Party (PDeCat) substitutes the Mayoress of Vilanova, Neus Lloverasas, from the PDeCat too, a chairpeson. Lloveras is being prosecuted by the Spanish inquisition. 

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Spanish regime's assault on freedom of expression and democratic rights

In the past few days, the level of repression, intimidation and blatant authoritarianism exercised by the rotten Spanish ‘78 regime has reached unprecedented levels. It is enough to make one’s blood boil. On 20 February, Communist rapper Valtonyc was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for "lèse majesté" (insulting the crown) and “glorifying terrorism” in the lyrics of one of his songs.

Valtonyc was accused by the ‘Círculo Balear’: a Spanish reactionary nationalist lobby in Mallorca with links to the far-right. The Spanish High Court just confirmed the sentence and he will be jailed in the next few days.Communist rapper Pablo Hasel is also being tried for songs against the monarchy and for "glorifying terrorism": the prosecutor asks for three years in jail. The video of his courageous defence of freedom of speech at his trial at the National Court went viral (see below):

These are just the two prominent cases, but other rap artists have been charged with similar offenses. These people have not been involved in any physical attacks against the monarchy, nor there is any implication that they are involved in terrorism, nor that their lyrics have actually led anyone to commit an act of terrorism or a physical attack on the monarchy. In fact, the terrorist groups mentioned have not been active for years! This is clearly an attack on freedom of expression. These people are being charged and sentenced, and soon will be jailed, for their ideas.

Pablo Hasel is being tried for songs against the monarchy and for "glorifying terrorism" / Image: fair use

Former Catalan deputy, Anna Gabriel, of the anti-capitalist, pro-independence CUP (one of the most radical and popular left-wing politicians in Catalonia) has gone into exile in Switzerland after she refused to appear in court as part of a mega-trial of pro-independence politicians for their part in the 1 October independence referendum. She (along with many others) is being accused of ‘rebellion’, a legal item drawn from the Franco-era penal code punishable with 30 years in jail.

Even in its own terms, “rebellion” implies a “violent, armed uprising”, something which never took place in Catalonia where the autumn movement for self-determination was perfectly peaceful. The only violence that took place came from the Spanish police. As happened with Puigdemont in Belgium in November, the Supreme Court judge that is in charge of the investigation has decided not to issue an international arrest warrant, in the knowledge that the case is an absolute sham and a request for extradition on the grounds of rebellion would be thrown out by the Swiss authorities. The regime is furious at this and has thrown its miserable, servile rags (including ‘respectable’ media such as El Mundo or COPE) against Anna Gabriel with all sorts of sexist, misogynist slander, insults, and humiliations.

Anna Gabriel (CUP) has gone into exile in Switzerland after she refused to appear in court / Image: fair use

The Spanish government, which suspended Catalan autonomy in October and dissolved its democratically-elected government through the use of powers in article 155 of the constitution, has promised it will use its extraordinary powers to enforce more hours of Spanish lessons in Catalan schools. Thus, the right-wing Popular Party – which came last in the Catalan elections in December and has only 4 MPs in the Catalan Parliament – is usurping the powers of the Catalan chamber to rule over education matters in a dog-eat-dog fight with Ciudadanos to see which of the two is more Spanish chauvinist.

On 21 February, a judge ordered the sequestration of the whole print run of a book, which was published two years ago. Fariña investigates the connections of the Galician PP with drug trafficking. The judge order came after a libel case by a local PP mayor (who appears only twice in the book). The judge has forbidden the reprinting of the book and has banned any new sales (the connections of the Galician PP with drug cartels are well known). In a matter of hours the book has become a best-seller, at one point selling as many as 10 copies per minute. The Madrid Federation of Bookshops has said that, while it respects the judge’s decision, it fundamentally disagrees with it and will not withdraw the book from its shops.

The international contemporary art fair of Madrid, ARCO, has removed an exhibit called “Political Prisoners” by Santiago Sierra ahead of the official opening of the fair by the king and queen today. The exhibit consisted of 24 large pictures of people who have been jailed in Spain for political reasons, their faces pixelated and a legend indicating who they are and why have they been jailed. Amongst them were Oriol Junqueras, the former Catalan vice president that is now in jail in Madrid for his role in the October Referendum and declaration of the Catalan Republic, as well as fellow Catalan government member Forn, and the two Jordis (Jordi Cuixart of the Catalan Òmnium and Jordi Sánchez of the Catalan National Assembly). The exhibit also featured the "8 of Altsasu": eight young men and women from the village of Altsasu in Navarre, who are accused of terrorism after as a result of a bar brawl with some off-duty Civil Guards and have spent almost 500 days in preventive detention. The reason given for the removal of the exhibit was “not to cause controversy over the Catalan issue”.

“Political Prisoners” by Santiago Sierra was removed ahead of a royal visit / Image: fair use

A young farmhand from Jaén has been fined with 480€ for...having photoshopped his face onto an image of Christ and has been charged with "offending religious sentiments". He raised the money for the fine after a public appeal in under an hour. The fine was reduced from an original sentence of over 2000 euro or six months in jail when he admitted guilt, which he only did because he thought would have never been able to raise the amount for the higher fine.

The Spanish state has been fined by the Strasbourg court of human rights for having failed to investigate the brutal torture by the Civil Guard of ETA militants Igor Portu and Matin Sarasola in 2008. Sixteen hours after having been arrested, Igor Portu had to be taken to the Intensive Care Unit at Donostia Hospital with a punctured lung, a broken rib, a haemorrhage in one eye and bruises all over his body. It's the eighth time this institution has reprimanded Spain for torture.

There have been other lesser-known incidents, but no less serious. For instance, an arrest warrant has been issued for the general secretary of the anarcho-syndicalist union CGT in Catalonia, university professor Ermengol Gassiot, for having supported a student occupation for free education in 2013. 27 people are on trial for those events and Gassiol has refused to turn up in court. Barcelona port operators belonging to the anarchist union CNT are being questioned by the Civil Guard for their participation last week in a victorious mooring strike against three unfair dismissals.

On the same day, 21 February, two twitter users were tried for "glorifying ETA terrorism" . The Spanish National Court is currently trying more people for “glorifying terrorism” than for terrorism itself. In fact this charge is being widely used to shut down any radical opinions on social media. In fact at the beginning of the year the Ministry of Interior official twitter account warned that re-tweeting messages which could be deemed as “glorifying terrorism” was a crime in itselfRajoy and the PP are up to their necks in corruption scandals / Image: Flickr, EPP

These are just events from the past few days, to which one would have to add the imprisonment of Junqueras, Forn and the two Jordis without bail; sentences against twitter users, musicians, artists, trade unionists; and above all the attacks against the democratic rights of the Catalan people. And as this repression takes place, the PP finds itself up to the neck in corruption scandals, involving the upper-echelons of the party and Rajoy himself.

Perhaps the worst this about this wave of repression is the lack of a serious, organised and coordinated campaign in response by left-wing and trade union organisations. We can not really expect anything from the leaders of CCOO and UGT in this respect, but the conduct of the leaders of United Left and Podemos has been shy, indecisive and too fearful of being associated with the two rap artists. What is required is a Spanish-wide campaign of rallies, mass meetings, press conferences to organise the fightback, starting with preventing the jailing of Valtonyc.


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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Galicians protest the Spanish Supremacism of a Galician Government officer

A Mesa pola Normalización protested yesterday in Lugo. They denounced the events of February 26 when Adela Figueroa suffered the Spanish supremacism of a Xunta (Galician autonomous government) official who refused to attend her language. Under the slogan "We have our own language, we want to live in it", the movement denounced that she refused to understand Galician and said that "Spanish is much better than Galician or Catalan." The same officer proudly said that she had been member of Phalange, a Fascist party which is legal in Spain. The same state where to vote in a Democratic Referendum is illegal. 

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Spanish military police raid Catalan cultural association, 8 people held

The vice president of Òmnium Cultural, Marcel Mauri, told the RAC1 radio station that the judge who ordered the raid of his organization’s HQ warned him not to call for protests outside the building if he wanted to avoid “charges of sedition and rebellion.”
Mauri called the police operation a “shameful attack” and challenged the need to raid his organization when its accounts are published on its website. Mauri said that it seemed to him as if the officers were looking for financial documents but the Òmnium vice president insisted that “they will not find evidence of any payments from the Catalan government.” Spanish military police is raiding the HQ and traffic is stopped as it was a paramilitary operation. Yet the raid of the HQ Òmnium Cultural, one of the two main pro-independence organizations in the country, is still underway. Seven of Òmnium’s workers and some members of its leadership are being held, with officers blocking and changing passwords of a number the organization’s email accounts.

Meanwhile military police has arrested the Catalan administration’s Secretary of Citizenship and Public Information, Antoni Molons. Spain’s Guardia Civil police started a police operation on the October 1st referendum on Thursday. Police officers entered the high-ranking Catalan government official's home and office during the operation. During the police operation, Molons was held in order to attend the raids.
The raid of the high-ranking Catalan official's office has come to an end. Meanwhile, around 100 people gathered in front of the headquarters of the Catalan government in Barcelona to protest against police's raids. 

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Together for Catalonia to move into a fully-fledged political movement of its own

Exiled Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on March 10th launched an initiative to convert his electoral list Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) - Together for Catalonia, in English - into a fully-fledged political movement of its own. Under Puigdemont's leadership, JxCat was the most-voted candidature in the victorious pro-independence block in last December's Catalan elections.

The Catalan president announced the proposition in an event in the Catalan town of Vilafranca del Penedès, in the presence of 135 members of the JxCat candidature from all parts of Catalonia, saying that "there is a lot of hope deposited in the evolution of JxCat. It is not only a parliamentary group or an electoral candidature for a specific moment. It will soon have to become formally articulated. Unity and generosity", he added, implying that the time has come to begin preparing for next year's municipal elections as well as adopting a more solid structure.

According to Puigdemont, "in spite of the difficulties and turbulences", JxCat has started to construct a "transversal, socially diverse political movement", based on service to the public "to make possible a republic committed to the highest human values". He emphasised that for this reason JxCat will be a "long term" instrument, which will lead by example as an expression of the "new politics". JxCat obtained 34 deputies in last elections.

Leading mayors of the PDeCAT have asked Puigdemont that the same concept of candidature should be applied in municipal elections, with brands such as Together for Barcelona, Together for Tarragona, as well as for other localities, and furthermore with a renewed approach.
Puigdemont envisages that the PDeCat and other groups will be able to integrate into the new JxCat political formation, as they did in the electoral list for the Catalan parliament.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

ECHR rules again that Spain’s courts had breached the right to free expression

The ECHR ruled that Spain’s courts had breached the right to free expression, once again, of two pro-independence supporters from Catalonia when it convicted them for insulting the crown by burning a photo in 2007 of then-King Juan Carlos. Spain came under fire over freedom of expression on Tuesday, when the European Court of Human Rights rejected its conviction of two pro independence militants for burning a photo of the former king, named by dictator Franco.  The ECHR ruled that the conviction of the two pro-independence supporters under a separate law, which resulted in the pair each paying a 2,700 euro ($3,330) fine to avoid a 15-month prison sentence, breached their right to freedom of expression.

It said the gesture did not constitute either an incitement to hate or an attack on the king’s person and ordered Spain to pay back the fines and 9,000 euros to cover costs and expenses.

 Jaume Roura i Enric Stern were condemned by Spain in another breaching of free expression by the Spanish Inquisition

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Monday, March 12, 2018

Clara Ponsatí, Catalan Minister: 'I do not think it is consistent to vote for independence and then to abide by the Hearing'

In a video interview with Catalan news website Vilaweb, Ms Ponsatí said she decided to return to Scotland for “practical and personal reasons”.In the same interview the Catalan Education Minister says: 'I do not think it is consistent to vote for independence and then to abide by the hearing'.

"In Barcelona (meaning the Catalonia under Spanish rule) the repression is seen differently, as are those that have been reprimanded. The exiles, as she says, have crossed the river. We are on the other side. And we may have more freedom of expression and thought. The blackmail of the Supreme Court and the Spanish government over Catalan politics is very effective in Barcelona, in parliament, and with the behavior of some senior officials of the Government of the Generalitat. In Brussels, this blackmail does not affect us personally. And then there is the tension between the desire to try to stop repression and thinking, I think that wrong, that if we return to the autonomic discourse, repression will stop. We have not yet understood that this is a lie."

Ms Ponsatí also reportedly pledged to continue fighting for Catalan independence while in the UK.
Her return to Britain means former members of the Catalan government or top politicians wanted for questioning over their role in the independence movement are now in exile in three European countries: Belgium, Switzerland and the UK. While Ms Ponsati remains wanted in Madrid, she does not face arrest in Britain due to the revocation of the European arrest warrant.

And what about the future ? " Now is a background race. And of resistance. Spain can not cross Catalonia. And her agenda is this. Let us be all Spaniards. How will they do it? The only way to satisfy your agenda is that Barcelona is not Catalonia, but Spain. And that is why those who live there must be recognized as Spaniards. And this is done by proposing an attractive project. But they are not doing it. I think they can not. If the only thing you consider is that it must be Spanish because you have hand ... They will not leave But one thing is that they do not leave, and the other that we leave. We are tied. But the pain is all on our side. They are not suffering. It would be very pretentious to know what to do. I think that the position must be held and not suffer so much on a day-to-day basis as it happens in the offices of Barcelona. But I also understand that each one makes the analysis from their respective position. And I do not get too much ..."

A spokesman for the University of St Andrews said: “Professor Clara Ponsati was granted a sabbatical from her post as a senior academic in the School of Economics and Finance to serve as a minister in the Generalitat de Catalunya.
“We are delighted that she has recently returned to her research work at St Andrews.”

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Successfull rally in Barcelona, 45,000 people take the streets: "We are not and do not feel as citizens of Spain anymore"


Demonstrators held a strong rally in Barcelona to demand the implementation of a Catalan Republic and the release of arrested pro-independence activists and officials. The demonstration wass organized by pro-independence group the National Catalan Assembly (ANC). In a successful move thousands of  demonstrators call on political parties to implement the Catalan Republic. "We are not and do not feel as citizens of Spain anymore. We are, and we feel as citizens of the Catalan Republic":

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Catalan President Carles Puigdemont: "Is a judge more important than 2 million Catalans?"

The Catalan president made a speech in an event in the Catalan town of Vilafranca del Penedès, in the presence of 135 members of the JxCat candidature from all parts of Catalonia on March 10th. The President made a strong speech about the recent moves of the Spanish inquisition saying that:

"The repression of Spain is real, it is suffered by the people of Catalonia as a whole, the 7 million and a half of Catalans who deserve that their state treat them with dignity.  
But more than 2 million citizens have mobilized ourselves to say enough.  
We are aware that we will win, because if our potential for victory was not credible, Spain would not have gone so far as to destroy its rule of law to stop us. 
Democracy will always prevail over authoritarianism, intolerance and hatred. 
Why does a judge who has not voted for anyone can determine whether a deputy who has all his rights intact may or may not be president? 
A judge who usurps the role that has the Parliament. 
More importantly, is a judge more important than 2 million Catalans? ", he added.

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Catalan Republic Defence Committee dyed the London's Spanish Embassy

Tonight, the committee has dyed the Spanish embassy in yellow color. According to the Committee of Defense of the Republic, the protest has been done in a respectful, peaceful manner, has been ephemeral and perseveres in the spirit of 'peaceful defense of our freedoms'. "We denounce that its decision is based on the" risk of criminal reiteration "deliberately manipulating and ignoring the peaceful and democratic nature not only of Jordi Sànchez, but of the whole of the independence movement," the group wrote.

Link to the action

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Exiled Catalan government minister moves to Scotland after fleeing rebellion and sedition charges in Spain

A former Catalan regional government minister wanted in connection with last autumn’s independence referendum has headed to Scotland from her previous self-imposed exile in Belgium.
Spanish media reported that Clara Ponsati, who fled with former regional premier Carles Puigdemont to Brussels in late October, had returned the University of St Andrews.
Ms Ponsati worked as a lecturer in economics at the university until last summer, when she took a sabbatical to take up a post as education minister in the now-deposed Catalan government.
Although there is a Spanish warrant for her arrest, the European arrest warrant issued in November for Ms Ponsatí was withdrawn by Spain’s Supreme Court early last December.
In Spain, she and four other former ministers including Mr Puigdemont face charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds. The former charge alone carries a sentence of up to 30 years.
The Spanish judicial authorities argued at the time of withdrawing the European warrant that maintaining its validity could create subsequent legal complications because evidence had shown the allegations were for a wider group.
It first emerged Ms Ponsatí may have left Belgium on Thursday when she apparently did not form part of a group of former councillors interviewed by a Catalan newspaper.  She confirmed her move to the UK on her Twitter account on Saturday morning, posting: “Catalan exile reaches the United Kingdom. Enjoying my freedom of movement as a European citizen, this week I am now back at the University of St Andrews.”

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Separation of powers ? Judge refuses to release MP Jordi Sanchez for investiture as President

Spain's Supreme Court says the man nominated to lead Catalonia's regional government cannot be freed from jail to attend an investiture ceremony. Pro-independence activist Jordi Sanchez, 53, had asked to be released to attend Monday's debate and vote in the Catalan parliament.
He was jailed on sedition charges after October's independence referendum, which was deemed illegal by Spain. The judge said there was a risk Mr Sanchez would reoffend. Mr Sanchez was nominated as Catalonia's President by Catalan parties after the former head, Carles Puigdemont, last week formally abandoned his attempt to be reappointed. He has backed Mr Sanchez, who is the only candidate.

Those elections had been called by the central government after it sacked the Catalan  administration and imposed direct rule.

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Friday, March 9, 2018

Spain = Lawfare

The intentions and methods employed by the Spanish state against the independence movement in Catalonia represent a clear case of what is known as lawfare. In other words, ‘legal war’, a term coined in America to refer to the use of the legal system as a political weapon. It is a form of asymmetric warfare, since it is employed by the side which has control over the legal system, even when it means bending, twisting and even breaking the law. In the words of the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáez de Santamaría, ‘Who made sure that ERC and JxCat were left leaderless by decapitating both parties? Mariano Rajoy and the PP’. A state-led operation with a sole purpose: the disqualification of a political adversary, the judicial persecution of the enemy, and a justification —by means of the law— for the violation of fundamental rights. ‘The law prevailed over peaceful coexistence’, declared Diego Pérez de los Cobos, head of the police operation on 1 October. A clear case of lawfare, of judicial war.

The origin of the term is uncertain, although there are instances of its use in the 1970s in the US. However, it is thought that the first to elaborate the theory was US Air Force Colonel Charles Dunlap Jr. in his essay ‘Law and Military Interventions: Preserving Humanitarian Values ​​in 21st Century Conflicts‘ (pdf). Dunlap defines lawfare as: ‘The use of law as a weapon of war’. Later, an initiative by the Lawfare Project, led by human rights lawyer and film director Brooke Goldstein, broadened the definition. This helped to popularize it, by examining the various instances around the world in which a legal system or specific legislation is used to justify the elimination of political opponents. According to Goldstein in a speech he made in 2010, “It is about the abuse of the law and our judicial systems to undermine the very principles they stand for: the rule of law, the sanctity of innocent human life, and the right to free speech.”

This video, which is part of the No Lawfare initiative, is revealing. One could apply it to the situation of political and judicial repression implemented by the Spanish state in Catalonia: it defines the following actions as being characteristic of lawfare: ‘Political persecution, the destruction of the public image or disqualification of a political opponent; a combination of actions that appear legal with an intensive media campaign that exerts pressure on the opponent and their supporters, levelling unfounded accusations, in order that they lose support and fail to have the ability to respond.’
‘The party’s over’

In recent years, the Spanish Constitutional Court (CC) has been the main, most forceful instrument of political repression in Spain. The practice of appointing judges in response to the prevailing political majority of the time was the spark that ignited the conflict in Catalonia. It began with the CC’s ruling of July 2010 that tore to shreds Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy. A document which had previously been approved by the Catalan parliament, subsequently watered down by Spain’s lawmakers and ultimately approved by the Catalan people in a referendum.
Following the rapid growth of the independence process, the PP’s absolute majority allowed them to reform the law governing the Constitutional Court. The move was deliberately designed to defeat the independence process and its leaders, for the first time giving the court powers to take disciplinary measures. ‘The party’s over’, threatened the leader of the Catalan PP Xavier Garcia Albiol when the amendment was rolled out. The years immediately after the ruling on the statute were the boom years for independence support, with roadmaps that were endorsed by a parliamentary majority, a time in which Francisco Pérez de los Cobos, a former member of the PP, with past ties to the Spanish far right and a well-known anti-Catalanist, presided over the institution. Pérez de los Cobos is the brother of the police chief who declared that the law must prevail over peaceful coexistence.
Recent events clearly show the political interference in the court which is responsible for the crackdown on Catalonia’s independence movement. For example, the phone calls between the Spanish government and the president and the members of the court in order to make them aware of the importance of accepting the case challenging the election of Carles Puigdemont as president of the Catalan government. The court eventually postponed its decision over the appeal, though it agreed to please the Spanish government by imposing precautionary measures in order for the investiture to go ahead, which were impossible for Puigdemont to comply with.
The Constitutional Court did so while taking into account that neither the judge nor the lawyers nor the Spanish Council of State had advised to allow an appeal that, in practice, was a preventive challenge against investiture of a candidate who had lawfully stood in the December election. An unprecedented decision.
These goings-on were accompanied by an orchestrated campaign by virtually the entire Spanish media, which caricatured and demonized the Catalan opponents, raising them to the status of public enemy number one. This ensured that the audience and the electorate gradually came to see that the punishment meted out is fair, and that any questions as to its doubtful legality or downright illegality are secondary. Ultimately, the political objective (namely, the preservation of the unity of Spain) is worth the price paid.

Violence is the victims’ fault

The enemy is not only Puigdemont; It is the independence movement as a whole. This explains why a general cause was set in motion, involving secret inquiries and constructed with police reports which deliberately falsified the facts, allowing the justice system to pitilessly swing into action against those responsible for events that are conveniently presented as violent or ‘riotous’. This led to the charges of sedition against Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, of the ‘riotous’, violent uprising, mentioned in the Spanish criminal code. The demonstration on 20 September outside the HQ of the Ministry of Economy was both multitudinous and peaceful, and the leaders of Òmnium and the ANC acted so that it would remain that way. Nevertheless, they are to be tried for sedition, and thanks to these charges they have been held on remand for over one hundred days. On 20 September there were protests; By midday on the 22nd, the Spanish government’s spokesman, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, was already speaking of ‘riotous’ actions; and before the press conference had even finished, the state prosecutor’s office had already filed charges for sedition against Sánchez and Cuixart. Later, Judge Lamela, and subsequently Judge Llarena, accepted the Guardia Civil’s version of events, which coincided with the Spanish government’s version, which in turn coincided with the prosecution’s version, which was the same as hers. And that of Judge Pablo Llarena. A classic case of lawfare.
Something similar occurred with the charges of rebellion filed against the members of the Catalan government and the Parliamentary Bureau, including the Speaker of the House. What about the fact that no violence took place, something necessary in a crime of rebellion? The Guardia Civil, the public prosecutor’s office, Judge Lamela and Judge Llarena invented it in both their statements and rulings. And if evidence of violence by the demonstrators was scarce, responsibility for violence committed by the Spanish police during the 1 October referendum (a highly visible, brutal violence) fell on those who had called the referendum: in other words, on the victims of said violence.
This was all accompanied by the appropriate social, political and media support. The PSOE, the other major Spanish political party, sided with the PP, Ciudadanos and King Felipe. On 3 October, when the King appeared on TV calling for the defeat of the Catalan independence movement, the socialists withdrew their petition for Sáenz de Santamaría to be formally reprimanded over the violence on 1 October. Only the foreign media were surprised at Felipe VI’s speech, criticizing it for its severity. All the powers of the state joined forces in a combined effort against a common enemy that had to be destroyed. This is one of the principles of the definition of lawfare, of asymmetric warfare between a powerful combatant, the maker of the laws, and another who is at the receiving end.
In this battle, free speech has also been a victim, while an improper use has been made of the concept of a hate crime, using it to bring charges against all those who have dared to criticize the violence unleashed by the Spanish police and Guardia Civil during the 1 October referendum. Likewise with the multiple charges being brought in Reus.
Ultimately, appealing to any of the internal mechanisms available to the Spanish judicial system becomes futile, since every judicial body holds the same point of view and an identical approach to dealing with the conflict; which are the same as those dictated by the political majority in Spain. The option of making an appeal to an international court remains a possibility. However, politically, the EU has so far been of no use in appeals for protection against the repression. In fact, the European Commission has finally become the final cog in the lawfare mechanism directed against Catalan independence. The most recent episode: a request for the EU to investigate the violence on 1 October. The reply: ‘Member States have the responsibility to guarantee fundamental rights in accordance with international treaties and their own constitution.’ In other words, the same states that can also violate them.


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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Rally for a Catalan Government to Deploy the Republic

The Catalan National Assembly summons the citizenship on Sunday, March 11, at 5:00 pm, to a demonstration to demand that the new Government obey the mandate of October 1st and implement the Transitional Law and the institutions of the Republic. "We maintain the same position as of October 31st: the legitimate Government must restore and enforce the Declaration of Independence. For that reason, the ANC considers that the resignation of Carles Puigdemont to the investiture was not what thousands of Catalans expected, and also deplores the spectacle of the last weeks between the parties. In spite of everything, the ANC will always remain faithful to any political action that the Republic advances."

The Barcelona's demonstration on March 11 will begin at the Passeig de Colom at 5:00 pm and will end before the Parc de la Ciutadella with a political act that will demand that political representatives comply with what they promised in the December 21 elections: recover the legitimate Government and deploy the Republic.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Catalan Parliament Speaker proposes Jordi Sànchez as candidate for President; investiture debate will be on March 12th

The speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, has officially proposed Junts per Catalunya (JxCAT, Together for Catalonia) deputy Jordi Sànchez as candidate to the presidency after Carles Puigdemont "provisionally" stood aside. The Parliament shared the official notification, signed by Torrent, this evening. The date for the investiture debate will be on March 12th at 10 AM. Together for Catalonia will demand the Spanish judge for Prevarication if he does not let Jordi Sanchez, an MP, in jail without being judged yet, to be in the Parliament

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Monday, March 5, 2018

A field assistant of the Spanish King new president of the Franco's Foundation

General Juan Chicharro Ortega, in reserve since 2010, is inaugurated as responsible for the only institution that exalts and defends the dictatorship. Throughout his military career he gained promotions under different democratic governments. The most ultra institution in Spain has a new leader. Major General Juan Chicharro Ortega, who has been on the reserve since 2010, has stepped forward and has become the new executive president of the Francisco Franco National Foundation (FNFF). His name is well known in the military world, and also in the Royal House: according to his official resume, in his capacity as lieutenant colonel he was "field assistant to His Majesty the King". In other words, I was always at your service. Now he will do the same in the foundation that honors the dictator.

In a note released by the FNFF, Chicharro announced this Friday its new responsibility. He will replace Gonzalo Fernández Mora Varela, another renowned admirer of the dictator Franco. "I assume the present challenge with the look in the immediate future but with respect to our past and what the work of a man like Francisco Franco, a man today viciously attacked by the same enemies he defeated in the war, meant. and in peace, and forgotten by a relativist society that owes him so much, "he proclaimed.

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Saturday, March 3, 2018

The PP government spends € 23,000 to repatriate bones of Nazi Spaniards who fought for Hitler

Spanish government formed by the Popular Party (founded by a Franco's Minister, Manuel Fraga) invested € 23,000 to repatriate bones of 29 Blue Division Spaniards who died for Hitler.

The Blue Division was not small. More than 45,000 Spaniards fought for Hitler between 1941 and 1944. Some of them are still alive and present in rallies against the Catalonia's independence. They rally with PP and Citizens (C'anos), a right party of Spanish unitarists with 36 out of 135 MPs in Catalonia. The Blue Division was the only component of the German Army to be awarded a medal of their own, commissioned by Hitler after the effectiveness.

The PP has a strong link with the Division. Their origin is the same: Franco. PP has maintained street and square names to the Blue Division as in Alacant or Madrid in spite of leftists oposition. In Murcia the PP demanded an allegiance to the Blue Division members. In fact Blue Division members have been awarded recently by the Spanish army and the PP.

Not a single € has been spent by the PP on recovering bodies of 110,000 dead republican in the Civil War.

Fist picture: Fernando Quintilla, a Blue Division member demonstrating last December with the PP and C'anos in Barcelona for the unity of Spain. Picture by Jordi Borràs.
Second picture: PP representative warding 12 Blue Division members in a military ceermony in 2013.
Third picture: Spanish nazis of the Blue Division.

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