Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Israel branded ‘illegal state’ by Spain’s Podemos party leader

RT | June 11, 2018

Israel has been branded an “illegal state” by the leader of Spain’s third-largest party, Podemos, for conducting an apartheid-like massacre at the Gaza fence bordering Palestine.

“We need to act more firmly on an illegal country like Israel,” Iglesias Turrion told Spanish RTVE channel. Accusing the country of violating international law and resorting to what he called apartheid-like policies, the leader of the left-wing party questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel.

“Israel’s actions are illegal. The apartheid policies of the state of Israel are illegal,” the politician said, adding that when it comes to international politics he and his party would continue to “defend international rights.”

Iglesias Turrion’s comments came mere days after a local faction of Podemos on Valencia’s city council “condemned” Israel’s illegal assassinations and declared that the third-largest Spanish city would be an “Israeli apartheid-free zone” from now on.

Valencia’s condemnation of disproportionate violence against Palestinians and the decision to refrain from any contact with Tel Aviv was supported by other Spanish cities, including Madrid, Barcelona and Andalusia, which decided to distance themselves from Israel in an expression of solidarity with the “boycott Israel“ movement.

While the number of casualties on the Israeli-Palestinian border is over 120, Israel has been trying to legitimize its bloodshed by portraying it as a lawful response to the presumed Palestinian violence and Israel’s attempt to protect its borders.

However, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence that no Palestinian was killed “intentionally” and that “people died accidentally” revealed a disturbing inconsistency with an earlier statement by the Israel Defense [sic] Forces.

Tel Aviv’s oppression of the Palestinians, along with the US’ controversial decision to move its embassy to the disputed [illegally occupied] city of Jerusalem, have been openly condemned by the EU. Seeing no better solution to stop bloodshed at the Gaza border, the European Union, represented by Federica Mogherini, has insisted on a two-state solution with Jerusalem remapped as the capital of “both of the state of Israel and the state of Palestine.”

June 11, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Western Media Shorthand on Venezuela Conveys and Conceals So Much

By Joe Emersberger | FAIR | April 23, 2018

A Reuters article (4/18/18) reports that the European Union “could impose further sanctions on Venezuela if it believes democracy is being undermined there.”

The line nicely illustrates the kind of journalistic shorthand Western media have developed, over years of repetition, for conveying distortions and whitewashing gross imperial hypocrisy about Venezuela.  A passing remark can convey and conceal so much.

The EU’s sincerity in acting on what it “believes” about Venezuelan democracy is unquestioned by the London-based Reuters. Meanwhile Spain, an EU member, is pursuing the democratically elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, for the crime of organizing an illegal independence referendum last year. Weeks ago, he was arrested in Germany at Spain’s request, and other elected representatives have been arrested in Catalonia, where Spain’s federal government deposed the elected regional government after the referendum.

In July 2017, a few months before the referendum in Catalonia, Venezuela’s opposition also organized an illegal referendum. One of the questions asked if the military should obey the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which was an extremely provocative question, given the opposition’s various efforts to overthrow the government by force since 2002.  The referendum required an extremely high level of political expression, organization and participation. It allegedly involved 7 million voters. The Venezuelan government disregarded the results—as Spain disregarded the Catalan referendum results—but unlike Spain, did not jail people for organizing it, or send police to brutally repress voters. In fact, two weeks later, Venezuelan voters (overwhelmingly government supporters, since the opposition boycotted and did not field candidates) were violently attacked by opposition militants when they elected a constituent assembly.  The attacks resulted in several deaths.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has hardly failed to call attention to the hypocrisy of both the EU and Spain, but the Reuters article made no mention of it.

Reuters also reported that “the country’s two most popular opposition leaders have been banned from competing” from Venezuela’s presidential election on May 20. Reuters didn’t name the two supposedly “most popular opposition leaders,” but in the past (e.g., 4/12/18, 2/28/18, 2/19/18) the wire service has identified them as Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles. As it happens, according to the opposition-aligned pollster Datanalisis, whose results have been uncritically reported by Western media like Reuters for years, opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcón has been significantly more popular than Capriles in recent months, and barely less so than Lopez.

Approval Ratings of Main Venezuelan Political Leaders

Mark Weisbrot (in an opinion piece for US News, 3/3/18) broke the news that US government officials had been secretly pressuring Falcón not to run, so that the election could be discredited as including no viable opposition candidate. Two weeks later, Reuters (3/19/18) discreetly reported Weisbrot’s scoop.

However, by far the most important thing Reuters neglects telling readers about the “two most popular opposition leaders” is that had they done in the EU what they’ve done in Venezuela since April 2002, Lopez and Capriles would both be serving long jail terms.

Capriles and Lopez together led the kidnapping of a government minister during a briefly successful US-backed military coup in 2002 that ousted Venezuela’s democratically elected president, the late Hugo Chávez, for two days. Lopez boasted to local TV that the dictator installed by the coup (whom Lopez called “President Carmona”) was “updated” on the kidnapping.

Imagine what Carles Puigdemont’s predicament would be if, rather than organizing a peaceful referendum, he had participated in a foreign-backed, ultimately unsuccessful military coup against the Spanish government. Needless to say, running for public office would not be on the table. That would be the least of his worries.

In Venezuela, Capriles eventually served a few months in prison for participating in the coup, while Lopez avoided doing any time, thanks to a general amnesty granted by Chávez. Lopez was finally arrested in 2014 for leading another violent effort to overthrow the government.

I’ve reviewed before (teleSUR, 1/9/18) violent efforts to overthrow the government that Lopez, Capriles and other prominent opposition leaders have been involved with since the 2002 coup. I also described how Julio Borges and Henry Ramos (two other prominent opposition leaders) have openly sought to starve the Venezuelan government of foreign loans as it struggles with a severe economic crisis.

In August, Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s entire economy that will cost Maduro’s government billions of dollars this year (FAIR.org, 3/22/18). It has threatened to go even further, brandishing an oil embargo or even a military attack. With sufficiently compliant media (and the collusion of big human rights NGOs like Amnesty International), such depravity becomes possible.

The Reuters article also says that Venezuela’s economic “collapse has driven an estimated 3 million people to flee the country.” No need to tell readers when the economic “collapse” began—2014—much less who made the estimates or if other sources contradict them. In fact, the UN’s 2017 population division numbers estimate Venezuela’s total expat population as of 2017 at about 650,000—only about 300,000 higher than it was when Chávez first took office in 1999. Even a group of fiercely anti-government Venezuelan academics estimated less than 1 million have left since the economic crisis began. (See FAIR.org, 2/18/18.)

Cherry-picked statistics aside, when Western powers want a democratically elected government overthrown, the approach is clear. Complete tolerance for violent foreign-backed subversion—which the powerful states and their allies would never be expected to tolerate—becomes the test for whether or not a state is a democracy. The targeted government fails the test, is depicted as a dictatorship, and all is permitted. Only the tactics required to bring it down need be debated.


Messages to Reuters can be sent here (or via Twitter: @Reuters). Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.

April 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Spain to Deliver 5 Warships Worth $2.5Bln to Saudi Arabia – Defense Ministry

Sputnik – 13.04.2018

Spanish Defense Minister Maria Dolores Cospedal and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday signed an agreement, under which Madrid will deliver five Avante 2200 corvette patrol vessels worth $2.47 billion to the Middle Eastern country, the Spanish Defense Ministry said.

The warships will be built by firm Navantia at its shipyard in San Fernando, Southern Spain, according to the ministry.

Salman arrived to Spain on Wednesday. Earlier on Thursday, the Saudi crown prince held talks with Spain’s King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

In the period between 2015 and mid-2017, Spain has exported military equipment and weapons worth $901 million to Saudi Arabia, according to data drawn by four non-governmental organizations — Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Oxfam, and FundiPau — from official sources.

In October, four NGOs demanded an independent investigation into the destination of arms acquired by Saudi Arabia, after increasing evidence suggested that Spanish weapons have been used in the conflict in Yemen.

April 13, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Former Catalan Education Minister Ponsati Going to Surrender to UK Authorities

© REUTERS/ Russell Cheyne
Sputnik – March 28, 2018

Former Catalan Education Minister Clara Ponsati, who has been hiding from Spanish law enforcement in the United Kingdom, said Wednesday that she was going to surrender to UK authorities.

“Later on this morning I will attend police station with my lawyer @AamerAnwar & will b arrested & taken 2court as Spain tries 2extradite me, I need ur support,” Ponsati wrote on Twitter.

According to Spanish media, a UK judge will decide on the measure of restraint for her later in the day.

On Tuesday, the politician began raising funds online for her legal defense, saying that her goal was to get 40,000 pounds ($56,600). As of now, the campaign managed to raise almost 100,000 pounds.

Charges Against Ponsati

On October 1, Catalonia held an independence referendum, which the central authorities did not recognize. The results showed that the majority of Catalans supported secession, and the regional parliament unilaterally announced independence later in October. In response, Madrid imposed direct rule over the autonomous region, dissolved the Catalan parliament and called a snap election. Several pro-independence leaders were jailed, while others fled to Belgium.

Following the independence vote, Ponsati fled to Belgium with former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and three other regional politicians. In March, Ponsati moved back to Scotland and her position as a professor at St. Andrews University.On Friday, the Spanish Supreme Court activated a European arrest warrant for a number of Catalan politicians, including Puigdemont and Ponsati. Shortly after, Puigdemont was detained in Germany after he crossed the border with Denmark on his way from Finland to Belgium.

According to the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office, Ponsati was responsible for allowing polling places to stay open in schools during the referendum. She is charged with organizing an insurrection — which under Spanish law can mean a prison sentence of up to 30 years — as well as embezzlement of state funds.

READ MORE:

Former Catalan President Puigdemont Detained in Germany

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | Leave a comment

Maduro: Spain’s Persecution of Catalan Leaders ‘Shameful’

teleSUR | March 27, 2018

After five Catalan pro-independence leaders were arrested Saturday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro slammed the Spanish authorities over persecution of the Catalan leaders and people simply for independence aspirations.

“What’s happening in Spain is shameful, Catalan politicians jailed only for their ideas… whether or not you agree with these elected lawmakers’ ideas, their persecution is an embarrassment,” Maduro warned in a speech during an international meeting on African decendents rights in the region in Caracas Saturday.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has criticized Venezuela’s government on several occasions, calling it a “dictatorship” and played an important role in the European Union’s decision to levy economic sanctions on Venezuela over what Brussels calls Maduro’s “brutal decisions.”

In an interview this January Rajoy even talked about political prisoners in Venezuela, saying all he wants is for them to be able to go to the streets all while his government is cracking down on Catalan leaders and politicions for purely political reasons.

The Venezuelan leader stressed that unlike the U.S., Spain and the EU, his government was not meddling in the internal affairs of Spain but “outraged that they persecute people just for their ideas.”

At least nine pro-independence politicians and members of Catalan’s civil society groups are currently in jail for rebellion, a crime punishable with up to 30 years in prison. In total 25 Catalans will be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobedience for their participation in the Oct.1, 2017 independence referendum.

Rebellion charges are controversial because the crime requires the use of violence; last year’s Catalan independence referendum was a peaceful civic action. The Spanish State Attorney’s office had argued violence was exercised by pro-independence activists and politicians on Sept. 20, 2017, when they surrounded several Catalan government buildings to prevent the Spanish Civil Guard from entering.

Pro-independence leaders like Jordi Turull, the new candidate for regional president, former ministers Josep Rull, Raul Romeva and Dolors Bassa and former parliament speaker Carme Forcadell, are the latest prisoners in Madrid’s crackdown against pro-independence forces in Catalonia since the referendum.

Pro-independence sentiments are widespread in Catalonia and have grown after Madrid brutally repressed Catalans who went to the polls to cast their vote last year. The election resulted in Catalonia’s declaration of independence. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy responded by removing Puigdemont and calling for a snap election, which pro-independence parties and politicians won.

In this context the Venezuelan president called on social movements and humanity “to fight against political persecution and political prisoners in Spain, and to accompany the people of Catalonia in their right to democracy and freedom.”

Animosity between Catalonia and Madrid is rooted in Catalan republicanism and rejection of monarchic rule. The Spanish crown was restored by former dictator Francisco Franco (1936-1975) who banned Catalan language and led a brutal persecution against Catalan republicanism.

Today, in Spain writing a song against the crown or burning an image of the royal family can land a person in jail.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Spain falls short of apologising for 1920s use of chemical weapons in Morocco

Spanish soldiers are seen during the Rif War in 1922 [Military Archive of Ávila/Wikipedia]
MEMO | February 15, 2018

Spain has said it will respond to the Amazigh World Assembly’s (AMA) request concerning the use of chemical weapons by King’s Alfonso XIII military during the Rif War from 1921-1926 but has fallen short on agreeing to apologise for its actions.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis confirmed that the request had been made to Madrid and “as a result of the request of the King, the [AMA] were received in the Spanish embassy to submit their demands and also examine possible ways of cooperation.”

Speaking during a parliamentary meeting, Dastis answered questions from Joan Tarda, a member of the Esquerra Republicana, who has been pushing for the Spanish government to admit its use of chemical weapons in the Rif war.

However, though showing his willingness to hear the AMA’s demands, Dastis fell short of expressing his country’s readiness to apologise for its use of chemical warfare on civilians.

The conflict lasted from 1920 to 1927 between Berber rebels led by Mohamed Ibn Abd Al-Karim Al-Khattabi against Spanish colonial forces in Morocco’s Rif region. Following the defeat of Spanish troops in the Annoual battle in July 1921, Spain reportedly used chemical and toxic gas indiscriminately against the Rif civilian population in order to inflict maximum damage. The chemical attacks were a violation of the 1919 Treaty of Versaille which prohibited the use of chemical weapons.

The AMA filed a request calling on Spanish authorities to officially apologise to the Rif people and to compensate the victims and families for the tragedy. A similar request by AMA was last made in 2015 to King Felipe VI.

The Moroccan Centre for Common Memory, Democracy and Peace echoed calls by AMA and called on the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs to honour previous pledges to respond to the requests of Moroccan civil society organisations calling on Spain to recognise its culpability.

As a result of the chemical warfare, many of those in the Rif have suffered the highest rates of cancer than in any other region in Morocco with 80 per cent of cases of larynx cancer in Morocco found in the Rif region.

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Russia’s Alleged Meddling in Catalan Vote: Playing the Blame Game

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.11.2017

Few people are able to recognize their own mistakes. Many prefer to deny the truth becoming willfully oblivious to obvious facts. Why assume responsibility if there is such a thing as blame shifting – a true-and-tried method to get away with it? Pointing a finger at someone else to divert attention serves the purpose. There is method to this madness and Western politicians have been resorting to the blame-shifting tactic increasingly often. Each and everything going awry in the world is the fault of Russia. The drive of peoples for independence is a good example. Take Catalonia to illustrate the point.

The Spanish government said on Nov.10 that it had noted news manipulation about the Catalan crisis on social media originating from Russia’s territory. Spain’s government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said disinformation on social networks was a “serious issue.” According to Spanish Defence Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal, the government had established that “many messages and interventions via social networks come from Russian territory.” She did not offer any specific examples to confirm the affirmation. Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said there was evidence of activity by Russian networks and hackers. The trolls are said to be spreading misinformation across social media to further “destabilize” Spain and the EU.

The issue was even raised at the EU foreign and defense ministers meeting on Nov.13-14, where Spain briefed the EU on the alleged interference. The debate comes after eight member states urged EU foreign service chief Federica Mogherini to build up the counter-propaganda cell in her service.

Spanish media have many times attacked Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik Spanish language services for instigating tensions in Catalonia, supporting the separatist movement. El Pais daily wrote an editorial on Nov. 10 denouncing “the intense campaign by Russian media that are close to the Kremlin,” whose “propaganda machine” it accused of siding with the pro-independence movement.

NATO leadership chimed in. On Nov.9, US General Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of NATO forces in Europe, called on Russia to stop “meddling” into European elections. He was concerned over Russia’s “malign influence” in other countries. The Atlantic Council, a US-based think-tank close to NATO, has published a report suggesting that Russia was seeking to meddle in support of Catalan independence and to discredit the Spanish central government’s position that the referendum on independence held on Oct. 1 was illegal. El Paisthe Washington Times and Politico all issued publications alleging that an army of Russian bots had perfected their techniques of online influence and thus ensured the October 1 vote went down the path of separation.

If the accusations were true, it would mean that Russia-backed media networks operate to undermine Russia’s official position on the issue made clear in a Foreign Ministry’s statement. Russia has consistently voiced its respect for Spain’s territorial integrity.

Can anyone of sane mind believe that Russia’s “meddling” is the real reason to make over 40 percent of Catalans support independence? Has Russia been behind the 95-year-old independence movement in Catalonia? Has Russia made the Catalans’ language and culture distinct? Did Russia make Francisco Franco oppress the Catalan people? Has Russia provoked the economic crisis in Spain, which has served to magnify calls for Catalan independence? Has Russia made Catalans believe that the current tax structure is unfair? Has Russia made Madrid unwilling to renegotiate Catalonia’s autonomy agreement? Has Russia written Spain’s constitution, which expressly prohibits a region from breaking away unilaterally? Did Moscow order Spanish police to use brutal force, while preventing the unconstitutional vote? If it didn’t count, why take such pains to stop it?

Several world leaders and political figures condemned the violence specifically. Did Russia make them do it? Did Russia make the EU abstain from mediation effort? And, finally, does Russia stand to gain from an independent Catalonia?

With many publications on the issue, no evidence has been produced to demonstrate a link between the Russian government and Catalonia vote. Obviously, the use of the “Russian meddling” narrative seems to work as a distraction from the wrongdoing of the Spanish government. The fantasy provides a convenient scapegoat to avoid responsibility of the Spanish government for missing opportunities to launch meaningful political dialogue with Catalonia and mishandling of the vote. Spain is by far not the only country to use the narrative to its own advantage. As Karl Sharro, a well-known British architect and satirist, commented on the results of UK elections, “The most disappointing thing about the UK election is there wasn’t even a hint of Russian interference. It’s like we don’t matter at all.”

November 14, 2017 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spanish Government Blames Russian “Dezinformatsiya” Campaign For Catalan Uprising

No, not The Onion…

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | November 11, 2017

In what is perhaps the least surprising tactic from the Spanish establishment, a government-backed research institute in Madrid has stated that Spain’s struggle to quash separatism in its Catalonia region was disrupted by Russian hackers agitating for a break-up, in a hallmark propaganda effort to fracture Europe.

As Bloomberg reports, the unidentified Russians spread both true and false messages on Facebook and Twitter during the illegal separatist referendum on Oct. 1, according to Mira Milosevich, a senior analyst at the Elcano Royal Institute.

The “dezinformatsiya” campaign deployed trolls, bots and fake accounts, and was backed by intense coverage from Russia’s state-supported television, she said.

“Russia has a nationalist agenda, and it supports nationalist, populist movements in Europe because that serves to divide Europe,” Milosevich said Wednesday in an interview.

The researcher had just published an article building on a Sept. 25 El Pais newspaper report that linked fake news on Catalonia with allegations of Russian influence in the Brexit campaign.

Elcano is part-funded by the Spanish government and its board’s honorary chairman is King Felipe VI.

Milosevich further claims that the most significant comments spread on Twitter and Facebook came from WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and government-secrets leaker Edward Snowden, Milosevich said, particularly that the “banana republic” of Spain used violence to suffocate a democratic vote.

For his Twitter profile photo, Assange is using a shot of Spanish riot police, clad in black protective gear, with one of them swinging his baton.

“What is happening in Catalonia is the most significant Western conflict between people and state since the fall of the Berlin Wall — but its methods are 2017, from VPNs, proxies, mirrors and encrypted chat to internet surveillance and censorship, bot propaganda and body armor,” Assange tweeted the day before the Oct. 1 separatist vote.

And os there it is – the Catalans – who have been fighting for independence for centuries, were tricked by Russian trolls (thanks to enemies of the state Snowden and Assange) into voting for secession… we have no words.

November 13, 2017 Posted by | Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Carles Puigdemont Turns the Tables on Rajoy

By Craig Murray | October 10, 2017

Before his speech on Independence to the Catalan parliament, Carles Puigdemont seemed to be in an impossible position. Declare Independence and he would be immediately arrested and direct rule imposed from Madrid. Rajoy appeared to have all the angles covered; the EU had already specifically greenlighted the use of armed force in Commissioner Timmermans’ disgraceful address to the EU Parliament. The intergovernmental side of the EU, the Council, had through its President Donald Tusk called on Puigdemont not to declare Independence but rather to enter dialogue, in terms that accepted the Spanish insistence that the very notion of Independence was inadmissible.

So Puigdemont was placed by the right wing governments of Europe into a position where if he declared Independence he would be portrayed as an unreasonable fanatic refusing dialogue, and his imprisonment would be portrayed as justified. On the other hand, if he did not declare Independence he would appear a traitor to his own supporters, would be breaking the referendum law of his own Catalan parliament and the cause of Independence would be damaged by disillusion.

The entire World was wondering how Puigdemont would deal with this fix. His answer was peculiarly brilliant. He started off by speaking at length of the history of Catalonia’s attempts to enter dialogue on more devolution, and their constant rebuttal by Madrid. This was so reasonable and effective that the live blog of the rabidly Unionist Guardian plain refused to translate or summarise any of it (see 18.31 here).

Puigdemont effectively turned the tables on Rajoy by both declaring Independence and not declaring Independence. He proclaimed the result of the referendum and said as a consequence the parliament would declare Independence, but in the next breath announced they would seek dialogue on the way forward with Spain. All media sources are saying that he stated Independence would be declared but suspended for two weeks pending dialogue. Unless the DW interpreter missed it, this did not come across as I listened live and I wonder if there was a last minute change to the circulated text. But the effect of what he said was much the same.

It is Rajoy who is now in the impossible position. The World has seen a very mild and moderate Puigdemont positively pleading for dialogue and mediation. It is going to be very difficult for Rajoy to arrest him for that. More importantly, Puigdemont appears to have acceded to the request of Donald Tusk and the European Council. But he has done so safe in the knowledge that Rajoy will not enter dialogue and never had any intention of doing so.

There are only two possible outcomes of a dialogue or mediation. One is greatly enhanced powers for Catalonia in a new devolution settlement. The second is an an agreed and binding Independence referendum. But Rajoy has taken a line of absolutist opposition to either of these ways forward, which opposition is fundamental to his centralising, Francoist world view. Rajoy, having whipped up Spanish nationalism to violent fever pitch, cannot give any ground to Catalonia without substantially alienating his own Francoist core support.

Puigdemont, in short, has acceded to EU calls for dialogue and negotiation which he knows Rajoy will refuse. As it becomes ever more evident that Rajoy has no plan at all except violence, the popular revulsion across Europe against the Francoists will gather momentum.

Puigdemont appeared boxed in, but he has skipped past Rajoy and left him sitting on his arse in the mud.

————————————————————-

I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.

October 11, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Catalan Police in Israel: repression courses #TestedInCombat

October 9, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Catalonia: Rajoy Moves Towards Extreme Measures

By Craig Murray | October 4, 2017

Things have taken a much more sinister turn in Catalonia, without sufficient notice being paid internationally. The leader of the Catalan regional police force has been formally arraigned for sedition by the Spanish attorney general, for refusal to comply enthusiastically with the beating up of old women. That carries a minimum jail sentence of four years. It is the first step towards major imprisonment of Catalan leaders. It is also extremely significant that this first step is aimed at decapitating the only disciplined and armed force under some measure of Catalan government control. What does that tell you about Rajoy’s next move?

This extreme action against Major Trapero is precisely in line with last night’s ultra hardline address by a man with the comic opera name of Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia. It is hard to take seriously anyone named after a whiskey, but we live in such a strange world that this unelected, far right and immensely corrupt, inbred buffoon could spout about democracy and accuse anyone who did not bow the knee to him of disloyalty and sedition. That precisely prefigures the legal action taken against Major Trapero. It can only be a precursor to a Spanish attempt to impose physical control on Catalonia and imprison its leaders. Having rejected both dialogue and mediation, I see no other direction Rajoy will take.

The Catalan government has said it will declare Independence within days. I am not, and have never been, a pacifist. A vital duty of any state is the defence of its citizens. Once Catalonia declares Independence it will be in a different position as a state than as a movement for Independence within Spain. The highly impressive and disciplined non-violence of the Independence movement will no longer be appropriate. But physically, I am not aware of any capacity to defend itself against the Spanish forces which there is every sign Rajoy will unleash immediately after any Declaration of Independence. Catalonia will also need to move instantly to dismantle any parts of the state fabric, and particularly the judiciary and prosecutorial service, which may remain loyal to Madrid,

The EU failed to draw a line in the sand when Rajoy’s Francoist paramilitary thugs beat up old ladies, en masse, before the eyes of the whole world. Rajoy will be certain to calculate that if he now invokes article 155, seizes Catalonia by force, and imprisons all the Catalan leadership for 30 years for rebellion, that the EU will continue to back him. Following the “royal” address yesterday and the extreme charges against Major Trapero today, the Francoist solution seems to me to be where we are heading, with nobody in any position of authority in Europe making the slightest effort to stop it.

October 4, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Five Things to Remember About Catalonia

By Vicent Partal | CounterPunch | September 8, 2017

Given the transcendent nature of this moment, we thought it would be a good time to summarize how we arrived at this point and to explain the special nature of the decision that Catalan Parliament took on Wednesday, September 6th.

1) Spain broke its own rules when the Constitutional Court nullified the 2006 statute of Autonomy.

The origins of all that that we have experienced over the last several years can be found in the Spanish Constitutional Court’s decision to strike down key elements of the 2006 Catalan statute of autonomy. Today it is widely recognized that this amounted to a de facto coup against the constitution that broke the judicial balance established at the end of the Francoist era. The relation of power between Spanish centralism and the Catalan Autnomist Government was based on the so-called “two keys”. Should a Catalan desire to alter its regime of autonomy arise, Madrid held the “first key” of being able to demand that the new law pass through Madrid’s legal filters where it would be subject to alteration. Catalonia’s “second key” was the right, should changes be made in Madrid, to reject the altered statute through a referendum. The process was clear, transparent and balanced. One key furnished guarantees to Spain, the other to Catalonia. Each side had a voice in the process. However, the forced entry into the process of a “third key” that had never existed and that was invented by the Popular Party destroyed this constitutional balance and broke the existing conditions of coexistence. The responsibility for bringing us to where we are today lies squarely with the Spanish state which, through its unilateral actions, abolished the pact forged in the transition to democracy.

2) Spain has refused to engage in dialogue with Catalonia about independence or, for that matter, anything else.

Catalonia does not have the right to impose secession upon Spain. Nor does Spain have the right to impose unity upon Catalonia. Should a conflict such as the one that is now being played out in the Principality of Catalonia arise, the only solution is negotiation, as the Supreme Court of Canada made clear in its opinion on the now widely celebrated referendum on the question of independence for Quebec.

Such a negotiation could have taken many forms and could have centered on many different aspects of the impasse. After the first September 11th (Catalan National Day) protests in 2012, the Catalan government proposed that the two sides engage in a renewed dialogue about fiscal matters and cultural rights. This proposal was not only rejected, but treated with open disdain. Catalan political forces have appealed on nearly twenty occasions for a negotiated solution to the celebration a referendum designed to clarify the true political will of the Catalan people. As is the case today, the party that has always refused to negotiate in the recent past has been Madrid. The Spanish state has consistently disdained the core democratic principle that disagreements should be resolved through good faith negotiations that respect the democratic expression of all political projects. This consistent pattern of disdain delegitimates the arguments of the Spanish government.

3) The people of Catalonia gave the Parliament of Catalonia a clear democratic mandate for a Proclamation of Independence.

In elections held on the 27th of September 2015, the citizens of Catalonia awarded the proponents of a program to pursue a proclamation of independence an absolute majority of the seats in the Catalan Parliament. The fact that this result fell just short of 50% of the popular vote has led the members of the winning coalition to the conclusion that they should seek validate their program through that most democratic of methods: a referendum. It has always been hoped that this referendum would be sanctioned through negotiations with the Spanish state. However, this has been impossible to do. It is precisely this refusal on the part of the Spanish Government to negotiate anything that justifies, and imbues with legal force, the unilateral vote that the Catalan Parliament will hold tomorrow. There is currently no other way that the representatives in Parliament can give voice to the political desires the people of Catalonia.

4) International law provides a legal basis for both self-determination and unilateral secession

The right to self-determination of all peoples is an essential element of international legal doctrine. It is an absolute right that trumps national legislation, as is spelled out in the two 1966 UN conventions on human rights which the Spanish constitution recognizes as the supreme law of the land. The Parliament of Catalonia is thus able to legitimately invoke this general principle as the basis for the referendum. In addition, there is the decision of the International Court of Justice regarding Kosovo that definitively resolved two important matters. The first is that there is no provision in international law that invalidates the unilateral proclamation of independence of a territory. The second is that the principle of the inviolability of borders only applies to conflicts between states and thus cannot in any way be used to impede the secession of a part of a state.

5) Recent international practice has given explicit support to processes of national self-determination thus creating a norm characterized by the acceptance of new states within the international community.

A few figures are worth bearing in mind. Since 1991, 53 sub-state entities, like Catalonia, have held referendums on self-determination. Of this total, 27 referendums were carried out in agreement with the states of which the entity seeking self-determination was then part. The other 26 were convened unilaterally. The Spanish state has recognized 26 of the 27 new states constituted in the world since 1991, the majority of which were proclaimed unilaterally. In fact, 7 states that today are part of the European Union were, in 1991, parts of other states and thus in situations quite similar to that of Catalonia today. These 7 European Union member states that were not independent in 1991 (Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic) were all created through unilateral mobilizations, and in 5 of those cases, through the specific modality of a unilateral referendum. All of them are recognized by Spain and are part of the European Union.

While the European Union has no provision spelling out what is to be done in the case of the secession of a part of a member state, there is a consistent practice when it comes to recognizing the results of referendums on self-determination. For example the EU took important decisions in response to the referendums of the Saar (1955), Greenland (1982) and Brexit (2016), and did not block the referendum in Scotland (2014). All of these referendums were held within the territory of the Union. And as we have seen, it accepted as member 7 states born of unilateral processes while also giving support to the practice of self-determination in cases such as that of Kosovo. This, in clear contradiction to Spain’s current posture in regard to Catalonia.

Summing up: If we have come to this point it is basically because of the legitimacy that the Catalan people bestowed on the Parliament of Catalonia in the September 27th, 2015 elections, and also, the legitimacy that the international community has bestowed upon the right of self-determination. But we have also arrived at this point as the result of the persistent delegitmation of the Spanish position, which flies in the face of international rules and practices as well as the provisions of its own constitution.

Now is the moment to take the next step, conscious both of the civic strength built up over the last decade, and the fact that the international community will react as it always has: by resolving a political problem that cannot be wished away through the deployment of legalistic maneuvering.

Vicent Partal is founder and director of the influential Vilaweb on-line newspaper in Spain.

Translated by Thomas Harrington.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment