dimecres, 15 d’abril de 2009

18th March: Personal Testimony of the Eviction from the Historic Building University Occupation

The Mossos (military-trained police) have published an edited video for the press which presents the eviction of 53 students from the University of Barcelona as a peaceful affair:

>> See Video

We know otherwise. Here follows a personal testimony of the events from a student who suffered it.



It was almost 5.30am and I was sleeping peacefully under my blankets when suddenly a shout woke me up- “Mossos, mossos!”. I was still in bed without really understanding what was happening, waiting for a signal that this was false alarm. “You've got two minutes! shouted a low voice at the end of the corridor and I quickly recognised the boots, the helmet, the truncheon and the echoing noise of large steps coming closer to me... I jumped out of bed to search for clothes to put on. “Leave your mobiles!” shouted the mossos, but the darkness and my nerves stopped me from doing anything but tremble. I could hear voices shouting that we had to get going. I grabbed my clothes and decided to leave before the warnings turned into whacks of truncheons.

I could see my friends sat on the stairs together watched over by dozens of Mossos. They looked defeated and resigned. But once we were all together, we decided to make a human chain by linking arms and sitting on the floor in order to peacefully resist removal. “Call the media! Warn our friends!” we whispered between our teeth and we tried to send messages for help.

“Whosoever leaves now by themselves won't have any problem. Those of you who resist will be arrested” shouted one of the Mossos. In that moment you could have cut the tension with a knife. One person decided to leave and the rest of us (approximately 52) prepared ourselves for the consequences. “Now whoever wants, will have to get up and take whatever personal objects that are impossible to live without. After that, anything left will become the property of the university” barked one of the Mossos. “I've got a computer here”said a friend who got to his feet but was stopped by a mosso, “you said we could get our things!” my friend replied. But we received no reply. Then the mossos started to grab him. He shouted “my computer!” but three more Mossos started hitting him and one pressed his knee into his face, pinning him to the ground. Everyone watched open-mouthed and shouted at them to stop. Today, that same friend has a fissured patella (knee bone) and multiple contusions, not to mention a plaster cast over his leg.

A camera appeared. It had a strong white light which made it difficult for us to see and it recorded each of our faces. When the camera left, the mossos continued their work. They bent back our wrists until we could stand the pain no more and separated us from each other. They dragged some of my friends by the nostrils and the arms down the steps. I lost sight of my friends and heard their cries, my stomach turned. When the camera started filming, the mossos simply remained still and silent, waiting. But when we were being hit, the camera was nowhere to be seen. “Someone take photos!” we murmured.

A young man came up the stairs, he wore a hood and a scarf that covered his face so that you could only see his eyes. He was dressed for the street but he spoke with the “chiefs” and walked around the entire premises. Sincerely, that situation exceeded any conspiracy theory we'd been able to come up with during our nights in the rectorate.

Given the silent panic that had overcome us, someone decided to start cracking jokes as we tried to release our fear with nervous laughter. A way to escape from the situation which none of us had ever expected to experience.

The laughter couldn't last much longer as the sun started to rise outside and their methods became more and more brutal. They picked up a friend who resisted, he shouted incessantly but then his voice became a gargle, without fully believing it, we realised that the mossos were pressing into his neck, strangling him so that he would become separated from the group. He tried to speak but his words were suffocated. We could only hopelessly protest and swallow the laughter that previously cut through the tension.

People were dragged down the stairs. We became fewer and fewer. One of our most vocal friends, who we will call “Ricardo” tried to keep us calm by saying things like “nothing will happen to us”, “we mustn't do anything to put ourselves at more risk than we already are”, “the only thing to do now is resist”. He was left until last by the mossos. The mossos looked at him and spoke into each others' ears. We knew that things would not go well.

I could hear friends outside shouting slogans and they had warned us stealthily that all the press were outside. Good – I thought – at least the mossos won't have impunity. My turn eventually came. A hand came over my face to stop me from breathing. However, on realising that this technique was too visual the mosso put his fingers in my nose and mouth. I was in agony, shouting at them to release me. In a reflex action (and I say “reflex” because it was like this and it wouldn't shame me to recognise that it was otherwise, had it been intentional) I closed my mouth and bit his finger. But then I felt the hands of the mosso behind me encircle my neck and start to press harder and harder. I shouted so that my friends would realise what was happening, but nothing came out of my throat and the oxygen ran out. I was dragged by my arms and left out on the landing. I felt an overwhelming urge to vomit and the retching continued. A mosso stood over me and looked at me out of the corners of his eyes without moving and all I could think was this was one of the most degrading moments of my life. At that moment I realised that they would never understand that I was simply trying to peacefully demonstrate for something I believed in. Did they even know why they were there? Or what the protest was about... I had never harmed a hair on their heads, I didn't deserve what they doing to me. I realised that it was useless to try and defend myself as any action I took would be turned back on me three-fold. The only thing I could do was weather the storm.

The moment came when “Ricardo” came down and they placed him a metre away from me. My friend and I were dragged down but they held “Ricardo” by his arms with his head pressed into the ground. “Leave me be, please, I won't escape, you're hurting me” but they ignored his pleas. “Stop!” I cried, “Can't you see that you're not achieving anything? Stop!”. “Shut up!” - answered the mosso who had remained motionless, standing over me. “How are you going to shut me up? Leave him be and I'll shut up, really!”. At that moment, one of the mossos standing next to me hit me in the head. The force of the blow threw me against the wall.

When we saw the severity with which they were treating Ricardo, my friend and I, expecting the worst for ourselves, started to kick up a fuss so that he would be the first of us three to leave. They asked me “will you go down of your own accord, miss?” (I still ask myself what kind of person drags you down the stairs and then uses the polite form of “you”), “Do you think I can go down of my own accord after what you've done to me?” - I answered. Then they took me by my arms and t-shirt which pulled itself up over my head. But since it was a pyjama top it meant that I ended up completely naked from the waist up. Like this, I was dragged down the second part of the stairs, with about 20 mossos standing around me witnessing the scene. Only when they had dragged me down the stairs did someone cover me up. I don't know if it was what people call “shock” but, something happened to me that prevented me from standing up, I was completely immobile. I couldn't believe what was happening to me.

A hand took hold of me. I looked up to see my friend just staring at the floor with his eyes wide open. I suppose he hadn't managed to understand what was happening either. We were taken away one by one whilst we tried to explain to them that the occupation was for a reason and that they couldn't keep ignoring our cause. We had no choice but to make passive resistance. Whilst we waited, two mossos to my left were jesting in Spanish (the Mossos are the Catalan Autonomous police force) “Ha ha... you see that one, when we get him alone, he's going to get it!” and they laughed again. I was about to say something when my friend calmed me down “they're only trying to provoke us... don't take any notice of them”, so I nodded and turned my back on them so that I wouldn't see any more of their gestures or bragging.

When I was finally alone I silently wondered if it was worth trying to reason with them or let my rage loose now that there were no more friends to stop me. But, then the “chief” began to say something and we all looked in his direction. This caught me unawares. Taking advantage of the situation, the mosso behind me, the one who had been trying to provoke me, took advantage of the situation to catch me and kick my back to which I responded by screaming. The rest of the mossos who hadn't seen what had happened turned round, alarmed by my screams. They came over to me and put their hands over my face, to try and make my breathing difficult. They pressed down on my pressure points so as to cause maximum pain without leaving a mark. Then they took me to the front desk and took down my identification details. I tried to produce my documentation but my hands were shaking and I was crying; which made me feel really stupid. Then the “person” (a female police officer) who had spent the night behind the security desk in the university and knew nothing about what had just happened, looked at my I.D. and tried to console me: “Come on, don't cry...” as two mossos forced my wrists back. I answered “If you were in this situation, wouldn't you cry too?”. She looked down at the ground. I don't know if she did this through empathy or indifference, the point is that it mattered very little to me at that moment as the mossos started shouting for reinforcements to help drag me out. whilst I counted down till the moment my wrist would be definitely dislocated. In this way I left and the local newspaper reporters from “La Vanguardia” captured on film the moment I was removed from the building. This was to be the pubic portrayal starting a week of stress in which people talk of nothing else except the eviction.


When people condemn the act of “kicking us out” as a treason to dialogue and democracy, I ask ¨would their convictions be given more strength if they also knew how the police had treated us inside the building?¨. If now, like us, they couldn't hug their friends because they are covered in bruises. What if they too had been strangled, hit and dragged half-naked down some stairs. Where would this leave the “the Bologna Process” and “the fight for a public university”. Where would this leave Mr. Dídac Ramírez, Mr. Joan Josep Moreso, Mr. Lluís Ferrer and their attempts to eradicate the “anti-bolonya” movement.

And through all this, I am resigned to knowing that my word will never be worth more than that of a Mosso d'Esquadra.

Today Mr. Saura (Catalan Minister of the Interior, responsible for the actions of the Mossos d'Esquadra police force) admitted possible “errors” and I make a call now to question ourselves if maybe the aggression was a mistake when we talk from a repressive-logic point of view, and, if it’s not, the degree of violence is dependant on the strength with which the objective is desired. And I recognise a possible “excess” of forcefulness on behalf of his agents.

I ask why do they continue to carry guns? To kill their own citizens? And where is the red line which, according to Mr Ramirez, the students supposedly crossed? The official reason for our eviction being that we had crossed a red line of violence.

We, who are many, believe that another kind of education is possible, a true pedagogic revolution, a critical education which produces thinkers not just workers; where knowledge is not a tool to serve the interests of a minority corporate elite but a catalyst for social and personal revolution.

Finally, I implore you not to treat this personal account simply as a chronology of events but as a call to take a stand and become reconnected with each other and our world. There is a situation, it is important, and we need to take sides within it. Injustice has a name and address, and those responsible must be held accountable.

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