Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel -who barricaded himself inside the University of Lleida, defying a court order for his arrest- was finally kidnapped by Catalan police on 16th February 2021 and jailed on a nine-month sentence for “insulting the Spanish monarchy, insulting the Spanish army and police forces, and praising terrorism and banned groups” both in his statements on social media and the lyrics of his songs.
Almost two hours after officers from the Catalan police force went in early on Tuesday, Hasel was led away shouting “they will never silence us; death to the fascist state”.
Dozens of supporters had earlier built a barricade at the university in Lérida (Lleida in Catalan), 150km (90 miles) west of Barcelona. Pictures from the scene showed activists spraying fire extinguishers at police before he was arrested in the university rector’s building.
On Tuesday night protests broke out in cities across Spain. In Barcelona thousands gathered, waving placards reading “Free Pablo” before the protests turned ugly as police charged and demonstrators set barricades and rubbish bins on fire to protect themselves from the foam projectiles used by BRIMO (Catalonia’s infamous riot police).
After 12 days of demonstrations and riots, the state authorities were overwhelmed by the resistance and huge display of solidarity and decided enough was enough. We should also mention that Catalan police image has recently plummeted even further after they blinded a woman when she was shot in the face with a foam projectile, during the Pablo Hasel solidarity demos.
On February 27, police had decided to end all this by arresting 8 activists and accused them of belonging to an “organised criminal organisation”, attempted murder and public disorder.
Not only they have been made responsible for setting a police van on fire, the evidence supplied being the fact that they all “use the same type of cigarette lighter”, but have also been selected by the state and the press as the leaders of the riots. The 5 men and 3 women happen to be involved in different anarchist community and cultural centres in Catalonia, such as El Lokal in Barcelona and other groups in Canet de Mar and Mataro. Obviously the cops and the media made it also very clear that the majority were Italian, in
an attempt to criminalise them because of their nationality.They would have been already known to the Catalan police as infiltration and surveillance ance of libertarian and community-led spaces is a regular occurrence The press has since published their names and faces and consistently pointed out their anarchist political background. Prison without bail awaiting trial. No real evidence, no real connection to the events, but already sentenced by the police and the media.
It is sickening -but perhaps not surprising- that the state is still using the same techniques to destroy the mobilisation on the streets as in the case of the Haymarket martyrs, 135 years ago now… just to name one example of many. Anarchists are the perfect scapegoat, since we do not have much support from institutions or political parties. No politician is going to risk losing the precious vote by openly supporting a group of anarchists…So anarchists naturally don’t have many friends in positions of power, and can make us very vulnerable to the state. With these selected arrests, the police are sending a clear message to the rest of society.
Who wants to go next?
21 days later, one of the Barcelona8, the woman directly accused of setting the van on fire, has been released. After being named, insulted and threatened both on the press and on social media, no real evidence has been found of her connection to the events. After viewing of the video footage, the court realised she is nowhere to be seen… She remains under charges for now, but the fact is that this is good news for the remaining comrades, as their solicitors have followed the same procedure and expect everyone of them to be cleared of all charges. The case is to tumble down for the Catalan police. The whole thing is a big fat lie.
From the Derry Anarchist Collective, we demand the immediate release of all imprisoned comrades and an end to police harassment of anarchist spaces and individuals. Both Barcelona mayor Ada Colau and the Catalan government,as well as the media were screaming in unison against the horrible Italian anarchist terror group. One thing is for sure, they will not apologise.
We are facing a strong authoritarian drift of European governments that are taking the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to repress any dissent and open the doors to dictatorship. We will not tolerate being imprisoned for our ideas.
Freedom for the Barcelona 8!