Spanish police baton-charged fifty-two times at several polling stations. 1,066 members of the public were injured, one of whom lost an eye. That is the other outcome of the referendum on independence held on October 1. That day was an eye-opener for many Catalans. They did not believe that the Spanish state could possibly repress the referendum with such brutality, even though the older anti-Franco activists in many families had warned their younger relations. People of all ages were injured when they dared to cast a vote and while protecting their right to do so. Many thought that it wouldn’t go further than that. “They won’t dare to throw anybody in jail”, some said. But three weeks later the leaders of the main Catalan pro-independence grassroots groups were remanded in custody in Soto del Real prison. “Surely they can’t lock up a democratically elected government”. And another reality check. Violence and a prison cell have been the trade mark of Spain’s crackdown. But it doesn’t end there. In little over two months, Spain has prosecuted nearly 800 people, has conducted 56 searches, ordered 24 arrests, banned several public events and shut down web pages. Many of the complaints are initially lodged by far-right groups and that sets the judicial wheels in motion. Even Mariano Rajoy’s government has taken steps to allow individuals to report hate crimes only in Catalonia. This initiative has shown how the state has paved the way for this situation. Madrid uses fear-mongering tactics to repress anything in connection with the referendum and the secessionist movement.
What follows is an overview of all the forms of repression recorded in the last weeks, all of which bears little resemblance to the rule of law.
Thursday, September 7 — One thousand public officials are under threat. After suspending the referendum law, Spain’s Constitutional Court cautioned a thousand public officials about the criminal charges they might face if they allowed the referendum on independence, they didn’t prevent it or engaged in any action to do with it. Among them was the Speaker of the House, Carme Forcadell, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, his entire cabinet, all 947 mayors in Catalonia and roughly seventy senior government officials, including police chief Major Josep Lluís Trapero and the managers of Catalonia’s public broadcasters TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio. Some mayors responded like this:
Ja hem arxivat l'advertència del Gobierno. pic.twitter.com/jkAqlsW6gU
— Eudald (@eudaldcc) September 12, 2017
Friday, September 8 — Searches are conducted looking for ballot slips. Spain’s Guardia Civil officers combed the premises of Indugraf Offset, a print shop in Constantí, hoping to find referendum material. The search was ordered following a complaint lodged by Tarragona’s public prosecutor for disobedience, neglect of duty and misappropriation of public funds. The search continued the following day.
Saturday, September 9 — Guardia Civil search the HQ of local newspaper El Vallenc. Tarragona’s public prosecutor probed the weekly’s editor-in-chief, Francesc Fàbregas, for the same reasons, and the paper’s newsroom was searched. The officers seized documentation pertaining to the newspaper, made a copy of the e-mail folders and took a personal computer belonging to the editor, who was questioned at the local Guardia Civil barracks.
Tuesday, September 12 — A public event is banned. Judge Yusty Bastarreche bans an event in support of the independence referendum to be hosted in Madrid by Madrileños por el Derecho a Decidir (“Madrid people for the Right to Decide”). Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena had offered the city’s Matadero cultural centre to hold the event scheduled the following Sunday.
Wednesday, September 13 — The first website is shut down. Following a judge’s orders, the Guardia Civil turned up at a web hosting company, CDmon, and had the domain referendum.cat pulled down. Next, mirror sites www.ref1oct.eu and www.ref1oct.cat went online to dodge the Spanish government’s censorship, but eventually they were shut down, too. The strategy of the Spanish authorities was to order Spain’s ISPs to restrict their clients’ access to those websites directly.
Wednesday, September 13 — 712 Catalan mayors are prosecuted. Spain’s Attorney General, José Manuel Maza, ordered a probe into the 712 Catalan mayors who had signed a decree in support of the October 1 independence referendum. Six days later they began to be summoned on charges of disobedience, neglect of duty and misappropriation of public funds. The general public were seen walking with their mayors to the court house throughout Catalonia. Some mayors skipped their court date, such as in Bellpuig, Tàrrega and Arenys de Mar, among others. The mayor of La Seu d’Urgell was met like this outside the HQ of Catalonia’s High Prosecutor.
— Eva Clausó Estival (@evaclauso) September 27, 2017
Thursday, September 14 — Catalonia’s Electoral Board takes a blow. Spain’s Attorney General filed a complaint against the members of Catalonia’s Electoral Board. They were the officials appointed by the Catalan parliament after the law of the referendum was passed, who were tasked with overseeing the independence referendum and ensuring that the ballot was uneventful. To avoid a hefty fine by the Constitutional Court, the Catalan government dissolved the Board and put other people, whose names were only disclosed on the day of the vote, in charge. However, they lacked the tools to act in an official capacity and their job was merely to look into any anomalies and comment on the turnout. On November 14, the Spanish Constitutional Court dropped the case against seven members of Catalonia’s Electoral Board because they had agreed to give up their jobs.
Friday, September 15 — Posters are seized, people are stopped by the police. The first night of the referendum campaign kicked off with a number of incidents in several Catalan towns. In Montcada i Reixac (Vallès Occidental) Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) complained that local police had seized their campaign material claiming that they were following direct orders from Spain’s Attorney General. In Alcanar, Guardia Civil officers detained three CUP members while they were putting up posters and took them to the Sant Carles de la Ràpita barracks to identify them. Members of the public were also stopped by the police in Cerdanyola del Vallès, Figueres, Masquefa, Premià de Mar and Llagostera.
Similar scenes were witnessed in other towns over the following days. For instance, in Barcelona city’s Sant Antoni neighbourhood local police asked the PDECat members who were manning a street stall to show their ID and seized their campaign material.
Friday, September 15 — A CUP-hosted event is prohibited. CUP MP Anna Gabriel was due to take part in an event held in Aldabe (Basque Country) but, on orders of the prosecutor’s office, the Spanish police intervened because the gathering was in violation of the Constitutional Court’s ruling against holding a referendum on independence. Once the event was underway, Spanish police entered the civic hall and removed those present. The Catalan MP was asked to show her ID. Eventually, the event took place in the street.
Friday, September 15 — garanties.cat is shut down. This was the first of many websites to go. Shortly before the start of the referendum campaign, that afternoon the Guardia Civil blocked all access to garanties.cat, a website endorsed by Junts pel Sí [Catalonia’s ruling coalition] and unveiled shortly after the referendum law was passed. The examining magistrate of Catalonia’s High Court (TSJC in Catalan) who was leading the prosecution against the entire Catalan government over the referendum ordered the website and the online registration form for volunteers to be shut down, following instructions from Spain’s Attorney General. The same instructions asked to identify which Catalan media had run government or privately-funded ads for the referendum. More on that later.
Friday, September 15 — Several news outlets are served a court injunction. In the afternoon some private media were served an injunction banning them from running any ads for the government’s referendum campaign. Specifically, two Guardia Civil officers in plain clothes served El Punt Avui, Nació Digital, Racó Català, El Nacional and VilaWeb. The injunction warned them that they would face criminal charges if they ran any ads as part of the government’s referendum campaign.
Saturday, September 16 — A CUP member is arrested in Barcelona city. The arrest took place in Plaça de l’Assemblea de Catalunya, in the Sagrera neighbourhood. The young man was charged with assaulting a local police officer and spent the night in the Zona Franca police station. He was not released until the following morning. When the city’s local police turned up at the CUP event, some of the organisers were asked to show their ID. The CUP member asked why and, since he had questioned the officers’ orders more than once, they pushed him to the ground and arrested him. Eduardo Calís, the young man’s lawyer, has stated that “at no point” did the activist refuse to show his ID and explained that he had suffered trauma to the head as a result of the fall, which meant he required medical attention. He also noted that his client had not received a court summons.
Tuesday, September 19 — Spain’s Guardia Civil searches the premises of Unipost for 14 hours. From 6 am to 8 pm, Guardia Civil officers combed Unipost’s facility in Terrassa, near Barcelona city, looking for referendum material. Even though a search warrant was not issued until 4.45 pm, the officers got to work early in the morning. This practice will become commonplace over the following days. They seized material to do with the electoral roll. The search took all day and was conducted amid a vast police presence and a protest which eventually ended peacefully.
Wednesday, September 20 — A coup is staged against the Catalan government. First thing in the morning, the Guardia Civil raided the HQs of the ministries of Finance, Social Affairs, Administration and Foreign Affairs, in what constitutes a coup against Catalonia’s institutions to abort the referendum on October 1. The Spanish officers arrested thirteen senior government officials and conducted forty-one searches, eight of which on government premises. The following people were arrested:
Josep Maria Jové, secretary general of the Vice President and Finance Minister.
Lluís Salvadó, deputy Treasury Minister
David Franco, an Employment Ministry official working in IT
David Palanques, an Employment Ministry official working in the government’s IT and Telecommunications Centre (CTTI)
Josué Sallent, the CTTI’s Innovation and Strategy director
Xavier Puig, a Foreign Ministry official working in IT
Joan Manel Gómez, of the Information Security Centre of Catalonia (CESICAT)
Francesc Sutrias, the Asset Manager of the Treasury department
Joan Ignasi Sànchez, an advisor to the Ministry for the Administration
Natàlia Garriga, the manager of the Vice Presidency and Finance Ministry
Josep Masoliver, from Fundació puntCAT
Mercè Martínez, head of Territorial Projects of the Vice Presidency
Rosa Maria Rodríguez Curto, General Service Manager with T-Systems
Two further arrests were made: Pau Furriol Fornells and Mercedes Martínez Martos, both in connection with the industrial warehouse in Bigues i Riells where thousands of ballot slips had been seized. Six of the detainees spent two nights in police custody. An additional seven people were probed, although they were not arrested: the Employment Secretary, Josep Ginesta; the chief of staff of the Minister for the Administration, Jordi Cabrafiga; Carles Viver i Pi-Sunyer, the director of the Institut d’Estudis de l’Autogovern (Institute for Self-government Studies); Joan Angulo, the general manager of the CTTI; Valentí Arroyo, the manager of CTTI’s corporate services; Lluís Anaya, an IT specialist in the Ministry for the Administration; and Montserrat Vidal, the head of election processes in the Ministry of the Vice Presidency.
That day, September 20, thousands gathered outside the HQ of the Finance Ministry and turned the day into a historic show of resistance, which the Spanish justice chose not shrug off.
Friday, September 22 — Sànchez and Cuixart are charged with sedition. Spain’s Attorney General quickly set the wheels in motion and filed sedition charges with Madrid’s Audiencia Nacional [a special court reserved for major crimes] over the demonstrations and rallies held in Barcelona city two days earlier. The Attorney’s statement holds Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leaders of the ANC and Òmnium Cultural, personally accountable for the “crime”, as well as those who joined in the protests. After two court hearings in Madrid, on October 16, judge Carmen Lamela had them both kept in remand with no bail. They are both still held in Madrid’s Soto del Real prison.
Monday, September 25 — First batch of searches in local town halls. On Monday morning, Guardia Civil officers turned up at Oliana’s town hall with a search warrant and demanded to be handed any documentation about the referendum. This was the Guardia’s first action against a local government, as all searches until then had been conducted in private companies. The officers left empty-handed. That day the Lleida’s prosecutor’s office also ordered searches in Almacelles, Alpicat, Tàrrega, Bellpuig, Guissona and Aitona.
Monday, September 25 — Assemblea.cat and cridadedemocracia.cat are shut down. The ANC’s website, assemblea.cat was taken offline during the night by the Guardia Civil. The Catalan National Assembly had received no prior warning. Nevertheless, a mirror site came online right away: www.assemblea.eu. A few days later Òmnium Cultural went through the same process. Their Crida per la Democràcia site was blocked and a mirror was activated immediately: www.cridaperlademocracia.cat. Other websites that were also shut down were prenpartit.cat, webdelsi.cat, Alerta Solidària’s webpage and vullvotar.cat.
It is hard to estimate how many pages were closed off, as many were cloned by internet activists. Still, many of those were also shut down for having encouraged people to vote on October 1. None of those web pages belonged to the Catalan government, but to private, legal organisations. Barcelona daily La Vanguardia reported that a total of 140 web sites were taken off line.
Monday, September 25 — Prosecuted for cloning referendum websites. Two people were questioned in the Spanish police’s station in Girona city for having cloned web pages such as referendum.cat and garanties.cat. The summons were issued by Court 4 in Paterna (València), which is pressing charges of disobedience, neglect of duty and misappropriation of public funds. Both defendants made use of their right to remain silent, were released and saw all charges dropped, except for disobedience. The same thing happened to Oriol Ferràndez, a Caldes de Montbui resident, who also set up a mirror of the referendum’s website.
The most notorious case involved a young man from Burjassot, Daniel Morales, whom the Spanish police accused of being the leader of a movement backed by other private individuals who partnered in a confederacy to clone those web sites. The police concluded that the source of the mirrors was the source code published by the young man who organised and led an effort to spread the pages’ mirrors uncontrollably “helping to expand a process of radicalisation and disobedience to the law”. The young man, whose home was searched, has been charged with disobedience, even though he is not a public official.
Morales’ lawyer appealed against the court’s decision to search his home. He reported irregularities, asked the charges to be dropped and for the defendant’s mobile phone and three hard drives to be returned, as well as for the new passkeys, which the police officers had reset.
Thursday, September 28 — Detained for putting up posters. Spanish police asked to identify some members of the public who were putting up pro-referendum posters in the town of Reus. The officers went as far as to grab a young man and throw him onto the ground and told him to show his ID without saying why. When one of the officers eventually told him that it was “for hanging up posters”, the people who had gathered around yelled at him and asked him to give them his police ID number, which he refused to do. The officer took the young man to the police station, amid complaints by protestors.
Thursday, September 28 — Ballot slips and boxes are seized. The Guardia Civil got hold of 2.5 million ballot slips and 4 million envelopes in an Igualada warehouse. Besides, the officers also found one hundred ballot boxes which at first they thought were intended for the referendum. They weren’t: the company was storing them for FC Barcelona. The warehouse where all that material was found belonged to an Igualada-based company, Events, that organises cultural and sporting events.
Sunday, October 1 — October 1 is the date of the massive police crackdown. 1,066 people were injured in 52 baton charges across Catalonia. Those figures are the best summary of a tragic day that will go down in history. Most of those injured on the day of the vote (82.5 per cent) were treated for trauma or multiple trauma. In 83 per cent of the cases, the injuries were classed as minor. Over the following days, 93.3 per cent of the patients were treated for trauma or multiple trauma. Since early in the morning and until noon, Spanish police and Guardia Civil tried to throw the vote into disarray with unprecedented repression. The people defended polling stations peacefully, which did not deter the Spanish police from using force to break in and seize the ballot boxes.
A 38 year-old man, Roger Español, lost the eyesight in one eye to a rubber bullet, a weapon which the Catalan parliament had banned in 2014.
That same day, the Guardia Civil arrested two young people in Sant Esteve Sesrovires. One for assaulting a Guardia Civil officer and the other for trying to run over some officers on his motorbike. Spain’s public prosecutor stated that the violence of the Spanish police hadn’t disturbed social peace “at all” and refused to probe the incidents. Nevertheless, judge Francisco Miralles of Barcelona’s 7th court is investigating the police charges in Barcelona on October 1 and has made it easy for the injured to file a complaint. His court has seen over 230 lodged so far. Some local councils have filed a collective complaint, such as in Girona, Sant Julià de Ramis and Aiguaviva.
Monday, October 16 — Cuixart and Sànchez, Europe’s political prisoners in 2017. Madrid’s Audiencia Nacional judge Carmen Lamela ordered the leaders of the ANC and Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, to be remanded in custody without bail for alleged crimes of sedition on the days of the street rallies in Barcelona (September 20 and 21). Despite a number of appeals which Lamela has dismissed, both leaders have been kept in prison ever since.
Furthermore, while judge Lamela did not have former Catalan police chief Josep Lluís Trapero imprisoned, she did impose a number of precautionary measures on him. As with his deputy, Teresa Laplana, Trapero is not allowed to leave the country, must appear in court every two weeks, has had his passport taken away and must be readily available to answer the phone “immediately”, as well as provide someone’s details for the purpose of receiving notifications.
Thursday, October 19 — The mayor of Dosrius is questioned. Marc Bosch, the mayor of Dosrius (Maresme) was summoned for questioning at the Guardia Civil barracks in Sant Andreu de la Barca for the alleged crimes of disobedience and grave resistance to authority during the vote on October 1. Bosch was one of the people who sustained the most serious injuries when Spanish police raided Escola Castell, the school that was used as a polling station. He received medical attention in Hospital de Mataró after he was beaten up with batons and had to wear a neck brace. The Guardia Civil also summoned Eduard Garcia, the local ERC president in Dosrius and councillor for Business,.
hursday, October 19 — Several Catalan police stations are searched. Guardia Civil entered the Lleida police station of Mossos d’Esquadra looking for information about October 1. The Spanish officers —in plain clothes— were after voice recordings from the day of the referendum, following instructions issued by Lleida’s court number 4. The following day the same judge ordered the Guardia Civil to seize all email to do with the referendum from the premises of Catalonia’s IT and Telecommunications Centre.
Following the first search, on November 10 some Guardia Civil officers also went to the Catalan police station in Barcelona’s carrer Marina following orders from the same Lleida judge. The Marina precinct houses the Mossos’ IT division.
On October 17 the Guardia Civil also went into the headquarters of the Catalan government’s emergency phone service (112) in Reus looking for information to do with the referendum. This move was part of an investigation by a Gandesa judge following a complaint about the Mossos’ “inaction” on October 1.
Wednesday, October 25 — Six people arrested over the vote on October 1. On this date one last person was arrested over the incidents on the day of the referendum. A man from Sant Joan de Vilatorrada (Bages) was charged with assaulting a police officer on October 1. The Spanish police showed up at a polling station and smashed their way into the place. The defendant threw a chair at one of the officers when he entered the polling place. All in all, six people were arrested for alleged violence against police on October 1.
On October 1, the Guardia Civil arrested two young men in Sant Esteve Sesrovires, one for assaulting an officer and the other for attempting to run over a group of them on his motorbike. On October 18 they also arrested a 22 year old man, also from Sant Esteve Sesrovires, accused of kicking an officer on October 1. In a press statement, the Guardia Civil claimed that six people had been arrested in total over the independence vote, but this newspaper has been unable to get any confirmation of the other two.
Friday, October 27 — Article 155 and the definitive takeover: the government are removed, the parliament is dissolved and snap elections are called. Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy was quick on the mark and shortly after the Catalan parliament approved the proclamation of independence that the people had voted on October 1, he made a public appearance to announce direct rule on Catalonia by triggering the infamous Article 155 [of the Spanish constitution]. He said that the president of the Republic, Carles Puigdemont, had been sacked, along with the entire government, and he was dissolving the Parliament with a view to holding elections on December 21. He also asked the Constitutional Court to overturn the decisions taken by the Catalan parliament.
Thursday, November 2 — Spain jails Vice President Junqueras and half the cabinet ministers. Spain’s Audiencia Nacional judge Carmen Lamela ordered Vice President Oriol Junqueras and ministers Raül Romeva, Dolors Bassa, Joaquim Forn, Josep Rull, Jordi Turull, Meritxell Borràs and Carles Mundó to be remanded in custody without bail. In contrast, she set a bail amount of 50,000€ for minister Santi Vila. With this decision, judge Lamela granted the request by prosecutor Miguel Ángel Carballo, who accused them of rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of funds and demanded the most severe precautionary measures for the defendants.
Friday, November 3 — Now it is the turn of El Jueves, a satyrical magazine which is probed for an alleged crime of slander. Barcelona’s court number 20 started an investigation into El Jueves following a complaint by Spanish police over an allegedly slanderous cartoon printed by the magazine. On November 8, the editor of El Jueves, Guille Martínez-Vela, was summoned by the judge and he argued that the publication’s humorous texts “must be seen in the context of a web site that publishes fake news”. The judge has recently summoned the author of the joke over an alleged crime of slander.
Sunday, November 5 — Eight teachers from three schools in La Seu d’Urgell are probed for discussing the referendum with their students in class. After making a statement before court number 1 in La Seu d’Urgell, the judge decided to charge all eight teacher with allegedly inciting hatred in class. During their statements, the teachers answered all the questions and denied committing the crime which they stand accused of. According to the complaints, one of their students was humiliated, insulted and even beaten on October 3 because their mother is a Guardia Civil.
Thursday, November 9 — The Speaker of the House, Carme Forcadell, avoids going to jail by paying bail set at 150,000€. Supreme Court judge Pablo Llanera ordered Forcadell to be remanded in custody on charges of rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of funds. The judge’s statement suggests that there is a risk that the defendant might reoffend, which justifies holding her in custody pending bail. The same judge also set a bail amount of 25,000€ for the other members of the Parliamentary Board: Corominas, Guinó, Simó and Barrufet.
Thursday, November 9 — José Téllez is probed over alleged crimes of disobedience and obstruction of justice. A deputy mayor in the city of Badalona, José Téllez refused to appear before the prosecutor following an ongoing investigation over an alleged incident of disobedience and obstruction of justice involving Badalona’s local police when referendum posters were being put up. Téllez tried to prevent the local police from seizing Òmnium Cultural’s posters, he retrieved them from inside a police car and returned them to the activists. The councillor claims that his actions meant to support the right to spread political ideas. “Allow me to remind everyone that it was posters, not weapons, that were seized. Therefore, my actions were endorsed by the defence of basic rights, such as free speech”, said Téllez after a hearing in Barcelona’s Ciutat de la Justícia.
Friday, November 10 — Political leaders and the general public face a judicial onslaught in the town of Reus. A Reus judge is probing civil servants, business people, elected councillors and members of the public over a manifesto demanding that the Spanish police quartered in Hotel Gaudí leave Reus. They stand accused of inciting hatred. The case involves Reus mayor Carles Pellicer, six other PDECat, ERC, CUP and Ara Reus councillors, the two managers of a local gym as well as four firefighters, who are the last to give their statement. They also stand accused of misappropriation of public funds, as they allegedly drove their fire engines to the hotel where the police were housed.
Thursday, November 16 — Mr Bohigues is also charged. Actor and radio broadcaster Eduard Biosca was issued a summons following a radio skit by his character, Sr. Bohigues, on RAC1’s daily afternoon show Versió RAC1. “In this country actors are responsible for the opinions voiced by the characters they play!”, he complained after hearing the news. The gag that got the judge’s attention mocked the police officers who have been quartered on the cruise ships docked in the port of Barcelona for weeks and were responsible for the violent incidents on October 1.
Friday, November 17 — Six other people are arrested for inciting hatred. So far Spain’s Guardia Civil have arrested six people for alleged crimes of inciting hatred on social networks following the police brutality on the day of the referendum. You can find out about the cases here. In Lleida, where four people have been arrested, the operation is called “Dignity” and it was started by the Guardia Civil after the independence vote. The eight school teachers in La Seu d’Urgell are also being probed as part of this ongoing operation.
Tuesday, November 21 — The first fines are levied following protests during the strike on October 3. On October 3 a general strike ground Catalonia to a halt to protest the crackdown. Two snail-pace drives where staged in Reus, on the AP-7 and A-7 motorways. The first fines imposed on participants have been received a month after the protest. Two members of the public have had four points taken off their license and must pay 200€, with a 50 per cent reduction if they pay before a set date.
Friday, November 24 — A man is arrested for cheering Maza’s death. Spanish police arrested a man in Barcelona for posting a message on social networks celebrating the recent death of Spain’s Attorney General José Manuel Maza. According to Spain’s Interior Minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, the detainee also threatened the Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia, Enric Millo. He has been charged with inciting hatred and slander.
Spain’s Interior Ministry has set up a new tab on its home page, under the hate crime section. It is titled “Situation in Catalonia: protecting the victims” and it encourages members of the public to report Catalans who might have committed a “hate crime”.
Missatge de Vicent Partal
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