MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE (Spain Watch): No photographs, “please”.

The protests and subsequent riots that took place in front of the Spanish Parliament on the 25th of September are still echoing.

The “Occupy Congress” protest came as the annual State Budget for 2013 was being debated in Parliament. After some scuffles, the riot police scattered the protesters and chased some of them into the nearby Atocha railway station, where they recklessly hit both protesters and commuters waiting for their trains at platforms and even fired rubber bullets at them.

But the police action was not only controversial on the grounds of the indiscriminate violence they displayed in a railway station, according to witnesses. Right after the incidents in front of Parliament, the images taken by some journalists and amateur photographers raised suspicions that plain-clothes police officers might have staged attacks on the riot police to spark the scuffles that led the police forces to split up the crowd (see links below).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYGnbG9QcCY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2jlOQqaf6k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FLW4OjlcrU&playnext=1&list=PLSyUtxMNETSUE-JvtcMV2YgXFNIJHlgnb&feature=results_main

The authorities were quick to react to those suspicions, as the day after a Government official suggested that, for security reasons, taking photographs at demonstrations should be banned. However, the response from journalists associations, civil-rights activists and the legal professions was so hard – this is not the first hint from the Spanish Government that some rights in connection with public protests might be restricted – that the Government seem to have discarded that idea. At least officially so.

However, some amateur photographers and professional journalists have recently received summons indicating that administrative proceedings had started which could lead to 300€ fines being imposed on them. The charges are obstructing the police action and refusing to provide their ID documents at the request of the riot police, whose action they were recording at Atocha railway station during the incidents.

“If I failed to identify myself, how is it that I have received a summons?” claims the journalist Alejandro López de Miguel, commenting on one of the videos below:

http://www.revistapensamientocritico.es/search/label/Opini%C3%B3n

http://www.revistapensamientocritico.es/2012/11/lo-unico-que-yo-estaba-haciendo-alli.html

Actually, if you look at them you will hear the police officers’ voices insistently ordering the camera-holders to turn them off. As one of them politely asks a policeman to identify himself – “will you please give me your ID details?” – the officer threateningly retorts: “I’m going to give you something else…!” Notably, Spanish riot police don’t bear their ID plates in a visible place, as opposed to their colleagues in many other European countries.

On the other hand, trade union representatives have complained that the administrative-sanction proceedings initiated in connection with demonstrations over the last six months largely outnumber all those implemented since Franco’s death, back in 1975.

By the looks of it, the Spanish Government want to give foreign lenders and investors the message that our laws will give them a beneficial position (see  https://escritodesdelastripas.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/message-in-a-bottle-spain-watch-more-on-a-dwindling-state-of-law/) and that their interests will be “fiercely” – a truer word was never said – protected.

Probably, international human rights organizations should consider closely monitoring further developments in Spain, before it is too late.

PD: I’m not a native English speaker. Comments on anything jarring in this or any of my articles in English will also be most welcome.

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4 Responses to “MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE (Spain Watch): No photographs, “please”.”


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