October 12, 2017
— Gerry Simpson (@GerrySimpsonHRW) October 12, 2017
I told you this.
If Madrid would have just let them do their referendum – which they did anyway – without sending in riot cops, the independence declaration would be worthless, they could just say “meh, whatever.”
But these hippie-smashing cops blew that.
Human Rights Watch says Spanish national police used “excessive force towards peaceful Catalans expressing their political opinion.” The group shared accounts of witnesses, including a 70-year-old woman, who said they were dragged, pushed and beaten during rallies.
“Spanish police engaged in excessive force when confronting demonstrators in Catalonia during a disputed referendum, using batons to hit non-threatening protesters and causing multiple injuries,” a report by Human Rights Watch released on Thursday says.
The human rights NGO analyzed photos and videos released by media and uploaded on social networks from the day of the referendum, October 1.
The content appears to show examples of “disproportionate use of force” against peaceful demonstrators “expressing their political opinion,” HRW says.
“The police may well have had the law on their side to enforce a court order but it didn’t give them the right to use violence against peaceful protesters,” according to Kartik Raj, Western Europe researcher at HRW.
The group said it spoke to witnesses in Girona, a city in north-western Catalonia, as well as two villages in Girona and Barcelona provinces.
“They grabbed me by the wrists, lifted me and pushed me, and then they threw me into the yard in front of the church, and I landed on the poor woman who was already there. Then I got pushed down the stairs and felt the kicks and punches coming in. Everything hurts,” Jordi Puig de Llivol, a 31-year-old auto service technician from the village of Fonollosa, recalled.
Madrid insists that the actions of Civil Guard and National Police were “prudent, appropriate and proportionate to the objective of ensuring compliance with the law and the rights of all citizens.”
Yeah guys… this isn’t the 1940s anymore.
— Kartik Raj (@Kartik__Raj) October 12, 2017
At least not in the rest of the world.
HRW said that Spain is party to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and thus has obligations linked with the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, and use of force by law enforcement.
On Tuesday, Catalan leaders signed what they called “a declaration of independence,” suspending it temporarily to facilitate dialogue with Madrid.
On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gave the Catalan authorities eight days to confirm whether they had declared independence.
They are letting this police brutality thing stew a minute. And it is stewing. HRW will signal other organizations, outrage will build.
I don’t even know why they did this.
It was just stupid.
But that is why their anti-independence bid is lost. For sure. The entire world is going to rally round the poor little victims of the bad, bad cops.