dimecres, 11 de novembre de 2009

10th Nov: Anti-Repression Press Conference

This is a translation of the communiqué read out in a press conference held today outside the central University of Barcelona building (site of the 18th March eviction last year). This forms part of a week of general activities to highlight the court cases that will be held on the 18th and 26th November for those charged on the 18th March.

The movement's lawyer, Jaume Assens

On the 20th November it will have been a year since the occupation of the "rectorat" (grand entrance) of the University of Barcelona. However, it's already been years since students have been organising in order to paralyse the European Higher Education Area and create a space of debate regarding its implementation and the function of universities in society. A stronge and persistent students movement was formed as a response to an imposed market-orientated education reform. From the rectorat of the UB the conflict was visualised to society the movement gained strength. Students, in seeing that they wouldn't be given a voice, had decided to speak without permission.

During that time academic authorities, politicians and the commercial media practised an information-based counter-offensive taking two forms: on the one hand, they pettily badmouthed the student movement and discredited their arguments with cooked up information, on the other hand, they upped their attempts to sell the reforms. The UB tried for a PR victory, with the constant use of the word "dialogue", and a clean "police-free campus" image (painting itself as an exception amongst the other universities) to the point where members of the management claimed that "the day the police step foot in this university I'll resign".

On the 18th March this hypocrisy was made obvious to everyone.

The UB's good image, and the endangerment of "academic normality", which in reality don't amount to anything, were the arguments used by university president Dídac Ramírez for letting riot squads into the building. The repression that we lived through on the 18th March started inside the rectorat, without warning, in a violent eviction confronted with the students' passive resistence. During the morning, at midday and at night police brigades charged on protesters, journalists and passers-by brutally and indiscriminately.

The actions of the repressing forces ended with 6 detentions and hundreds injured, many of whom were hit in legally prohibited parts of their body (the head, the hands, etc.). Today there are more than 58 people charged.

It remains very clear that, behind the armed police officers who chased, harassed, threatened and humiliated so many people, there was a well defined repressive strategy being put in place by academic and political authorities. No kind of responsibility has been assumed for what happened that day, or for the effects that are still suffered to this day. Rather, in many cases the actions were justified by the authorities, who went so far as to call for harsher repression. The only action undertaken was to sack Rafael Olmos, then head of the police, only to later reinstate him a little later.

We must also take this opportunity to denounce the manipulation of information in the media over the following days, in which the number of injured police officers given was at one point greater than that of injured protesters.

Faced with the impunity which shields those responsible, it was necessary to gather the testimonies and documents to make a collective denunciation. We have united more than a hundred people to denounce the abuses committed.

We have decided to use a legal route to make the denunciation. On the 18th September a dispute against the police force was presented through the legal system, although we still don't know if this has been accepted or rejected. The fact that the police brigades didn't carry identification on their uniforms, makes this route difficult, but we hope it will go some way to save the events from being forgotten. Therefore we are making the dispute public today.

We are here to say that we haven't forgotten and we will continue to fight, even despite the political and mediatic silence, we won't just stand by. We are here to denounce and dismantle a judicial system thought out and orquestrated by those in power, a judicial system which is normalising repression against anyone who speaks out.

We demand to see those responsible brought to justice, not with words but with actions (resignations), In the Interior Department, in the police force, amongst the presidents of Catalan universities, in the "Innovation, Universities and Business" Department and in the Commission for Universities and Research.

We will rally against repression on the 12th at Plaça Universitat.

We will also rally at the courthouses on the days 18th and 26th in protest at the trials for those evicted and charged with public disorder.

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