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Catalan referendum: police operation sought to "generate panic amongst the civil population"
18.10.17
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A report by Barcelona city council has denounced the police operation undertaken by the Policia Nacional and the Guardia Civil on 1 October that attempted to halt the vote on Catalan independence, saying it involved "generalised institutional violence" that was "indiscriminate", "disproportonate" and sought to "generate panic amongst the civil population".

A summary of the report posted on the council's website states that half of the 893 people injured across Catalonia on 1 October were in Barcelona and that a special service set up by the council to offer legal and psychological to those affected has so far been used by 105 people.

Most of those affected suffered minor injuries caused by pushing and pulling, batons, punches, slaps and kicks causing bruising, cuts, grazes and dislocations.

Two sexual assaults have been registered and two injuries caused by rubber bullets have been documented. One man has reportedly lost an eye after being struck by a rubber bullet, whose use in Catalonia was banned by the regional parliament in 2014.

Those affected were spread across 15 different schools and other buildings across the city designated as polling stations.

The council has also hosted seven workshops in schools across the city that were subject to interventions by the police, which 154 people have attended.

The report was presented at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid (Spain's lower house of parliament) alongside another, by the collective of human rights groups Som Defensores, that will be published on Thursday.

Jaume Asens, the vice-mayor of Barcelona, presented the council's report and called upon the Spanish parliament to ban the use of rubber bullets nationwide, as the campaign Stop Bales de Goma has long demanded.

German MP and member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Andrej Hunko, is calling for rubber bullets to be outlawed across Europe. A report by the Research Services of the German Bundestag (pdf) shows the situation regarding the use of the ammunition in countries across Europe.

Human Rights Watch has also denounced the use of "excessive force" by police in Catalonia in 1 October:

"Spanish police engaged in excessive force when confronting demonstrators in Catalonia during a disputed referendum, using batons to hit non-threatening protesters and causing multiple injuries, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch received many allegations of unjustified police use of force on October 1, 2017, and carried out on-site investigations after the poll to document specific incidents.

Human Rights Watch spoke to victims and witnesses and reviewed video, photographic, and medical evidence from the city of Girona and two villages in Girona and Barcelona provinces. Human Rights Watch found that the Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) or National Police Corps (Cuerpo Nacional de Policia) at times used excessive force in all three locations on October 1 as they sought to execute court orders to prevent the poll.

“Our detailed investigation into three cases found that national police and Civil Guard officers used excessive force on October 1 in Catalonia,” said Kartik Raj, Western Europe Researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The police may well have had the law on their side to enforce a court order but it didn’t give them the right to use violence against peaceful protesters.”"

Sources

Els serveis municipals atenen més de cent persones per les càrregues policials de l’1 d’octubre (Ajuntament de Barcelona, 17 October 2017)

El Ayuntamiento de Barcelona denuncia que la actuación policial del 1-O buscaba "generar el pánico entre la población civil" (El Diario, 17 October 2017)

Spain: Police Used Excessive Force in Catalonia: Hold Independent Investigation into Violence During Referendum (Human Rights Watch, 12 October 2017)

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