Break the silence regarding what is happening in Spain

2014-01-08 | Astrid Menasanch Tobieson padlock


“Start covering the development that Spain is moving towards an authoritarian democracy” writes the dramatist and director Astrid Menasanch Tobleson in an open letter to Swedish journalists published Wednesday 18th of December. Since then it has had an effect on the Swedish (and Spanish) media and social networks.


Rompere il silenzio su ciò che sta accadendo in Spagna

Rompamos el silencio sobre lo que sucede en España

Vem täcker vem?

I write to you with a sense of shock and indignation. I write to you because I love many people who find themselves in a specific geographic place, Spain, which within a few days will begin the move from an open democracy towards a (pseudo) fascist and authoritarian democracy.

I write because of what happened in Kärrtorp, Stockholm (where, a few days ago, a group of shock fascists attacked a peaceful anti-racism demonstration) and what is happening now in Spain, I see it as one and the same thing: the advance of fascism and the indifference of society in the face of what is happening.

This Friday (20th of December) the Spanish government will pass a law the aim of which is to end protests and demonstrations. The method: achieve silence through fear. I ask now for your help, I ask you to cover this.

This past Saturday in Madrid a demonstration was organized, one of the 6000 demonstrations seen in Spain this year. I repeat: one of six thousand. In the last two years the social protection network in Spain has been dismantled. Attempts to privatize hospitals, labour rights transformed from the very ground up, a large amount of people have been fired from their jobs, many families have been dispossessed of their homes, theatres have been privatized and in schools public education has been disrupted.

This Friday (20th of December) the government will also pass the new (anti) abortion law. What has been called an economic crisis is, and from the start has been, more than anything else a democratic crisis in which repression is, has been and, with the help of the law, will be the primary tool to stifle freedom of expression. Media coverage of the situation has been scant in Sweden and analysis from a social point of view has been nonexistent. As if one wasn’t connected to the other. But they are.

The demonstration this past Saturday was organized in front of the Madrid Congress, with the aim of protesting against a new proposed law, the public safety law. This law contains 55 articles with reprisals against demonstrations according to a clear scale where a member of the public will be penalized with fines from 100 to 600,000 euros for 55 different acts. A third of which are considered very grave breaches, half grave and the rest light breaches. The infractions? To begin with, all demonstrations not held in front of the congress or other state building, like the one held this Saturday in Madrid, will be banned and penalized by up to 30000 euros per participant. This will be applicable when various people in one place consider themselves to be a group.

The prohibition against this type of demonstrations will also apply to social networks. Coming together as a group on the internet with common opinion will be sanctioned with a 30,000 euro fine. Convene a group, on social networks or in another public place, with symbols and flags, 30,000 euros fine. Participation in a demonstration with the head or face covered, 30,000 euros. Refusal to identify yourself to a police officer, 30,000 euros. Prevent a police officer from carrying out his job, 30,000 euros, which in practice means that the sit-in demonstrations that started the 15-M movement in Spain would be strictly prohibited. Dishonoring the Spanish flag, 30,000 euros. I repeat, 30,000 euros.

Make a satiric drawing, for example with a politician as subject, will be prohibited as lack of respect. Using signs with criticisms of the Spanish nation, 30,000 euros. Film or photograph a police officer in service, 30,000 euros. And there are many more like this. Across the board the testimony of a police officer or security agent will be sufficient cause to issue a fine, without any juridical process.

One can ask oneself then, is Spain facing a movement of violent protests? Well no. The chief of police Ignacio Casido commented on the Public Safety Law, saying clearly that the 6000 demonstrations have been part of one of the most peaceful protest movements in the history of Spain (El Pais).

So who is receiving the supposed protection that the new law proposes? Hardly those who are protesting against repression. Not so long ago Spain was a dictatorship. Not that long ago there was a civil war. All debates are political. Giving space to an event is a political act. Not doing so, not covering it, is a political act. Silence is, at the highest level, a political act. The decision to stay silent stays in the body in the memories in generations. This neofascist law, which from Friday will be passed, is not unconnected to the growing fascism in Sweden. Nor are we, as human beings, disconnected from each other.

I address, above all, the journalist, columnists and editorials in Sweden. You have the media space. I ask you, from the deepest part of my soul, to break the silence about the regimen that is growing in Spain. I ask you to start informing. I ask you to cover the right to freedom of expression in societies where fascism, through fear, seizes power, space and the ability to define problems. As much in Spain as in Kärrtorp (Sweden). I ask you to help us with your texts, information and contributions to the debate, I ask that they contain sharp and deep analysis. Cover it! Cover it all!


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