– Original content by ECF in collaboration with Novact.
Police in Spain have reacted with violence and arrests in recent protests against police aggression (in Linares, Jaen), and the imprisonment of Pablo Hasel (in Spain’s main cities). In the space of a week, these concerning developments represent a crackdown on the fundamental right to protest and freedom of expression in Spain.
Protesting Police Violence – Linares, Spain
Following the beating of a man and his 14 year-old daughter by two off-duty police officers in Linares on 12 February, protests were organised on 14 February to condemn the disproportionate use of police violence. Protesters were met with violence from police who fired rounds of rubber bullets, resulting in two protesters being hospitalised during the weekend. Civil society organisations called out the disproportionate use of force that was observed during some of the arrests, including unjustified use of police batons and use of the batons near minors, and a protestor being knocked unconscious by a rubber bullet and consequently being dragged along the ground and left in a doorway without medical assistance.
The coalition Defender a Quien Defiende, wrote a complaint letter to the Ministry of the Interior, Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Ombudsman to condemn the disproportionate use of police violence and demand accountability as the officers who shot live rounds of rubber bullets are yet to be identified.
‼ Denunciamos el uso de balas de goma y perdigones contra los manifestantes.
— DqD (@AquienDefiende) February 15, 2021
Protesting the Imprisonment of Pablo Hasel – Spain’s main cities
The imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasel, convicted for the lyrics of his songs and some of the messages in his tweets, which criticise the monarchy and police, sparked protests across Spain’s main cities, including Madrid, Barcelona, Girona and Tarragona on 17 February. Protests were once again met with police violence, including live rounds of rubber bullets. A woman in Barcelona lost her eye as a result of being hit and over 40 people have been detained in the protests in defence of Pablo Hasel and freedom of expression in Spain.
Una dona ferida per l’impacte de bala de foam en la manifestació #LlibertatPabloHasel d’ahir a Bcn ha perdut l’ull‼️
Necessitem imatges per investigar els fets: Entre 20.30 i 20.45h a Via Augusta entre Diagonal i Travessera de Gràcia.
— IRIDIA (@centre_IRIDIA) February 17, 2021
Documenting police violence
Non-violent action institute, Novact, closely monitored and observed the police in the context of the protests. Their network includes 70 observers in Barcelona, SomDefensores, who are trained in human rights observation and action protocols, offering telephone support for detainees and injured people. As part of their observation and monitoring work, Novact is collecting photos or videos from the moment in which the protestor was shot in the eye to investigate the facts and call for accountability.
🔸 Tras las manifestaciones y las muestras de apoyo a Pablo Hásel, el gobierno propone despenalizar algunos delitos relacionados con la #LibertadDeExpresión.
Mientras, la Audiencia Nacional ha dado de plazo hasta el viernes para su ingreso en la cárcel.https://t.co/RvrPZvwpjy
— DqD (@AquienDefiende) February 10, 2021