Misc 31/10/2017

The call for peaceful resistance: a "euphemism" for "violent uprising"

Spain’s public prosecutor refers to the precedent set by the Supreme Court’s ruling on the 1981 coup to justify charges of rebellion

Ot Serra
2 min
Imatge de la resistència a l'Escola Ramon Llull de Barcelona el dia 1 d'octubre

MadridThe Spanish Attorney General’s charges filed against members of the Catalan government dismissed by Mariano Rajoy consists of a document which runs to 118 pages. The entire government, along with the pro-independence members of the Parliamentary Bureau, stand accused of the crime of rebellion, for which they face up to 30 years in prison. According to Spain’s Criminal Code, the crime consists of a "violent public uprising" in an attempt to "repeal, suspend or modify the Constitution whether totally or partially", or "declare the independence of a part of the national territory". The key term is 'violence'. How can such an indictment be justified, therefore?

In bringing the charge of rebellion, the prosecution mentions the crime of military rebellion from the now-abolished Code of Military Justice, and is based on the Supreme Court’s ruling of the failed coup of 23 February 1981 [known as 23-F]. It stipulates that "violence does not necessarily require the use of weapons, engaging in combat, or the use of serious violence against individuals". According to the Court’s ruling, "what is intended so as not to shed blood, turns violent and bellicose when resistance is offered to the rebels’ plans". In other words, the situation may become violent when the forces of law and order intervene.

In addition, the ruling adds that "the rebels are unable to declare with certainty that their uprising will be bloodless, without victims and bloodshed." It goes on to say that "the use of physical violence may not be implicit in the uprising, but due to its characteristics and the indeterminate number of people involved, it may be of such dimensions that it is sufficient to deter the possible intervention of law enforcement officers, who are aware that any opposition to the rebels’ plans will result in the uprising becoming violent and belligerent".

According to the public prosecutor, José Manuel Maza, the calls for peaceful resistance on 1 October [1-O] were an "incitement" to the pro-independence parties to resist the police’s actions. Maza went on to declare that the days "before and after" 1-O constituted "insurrection, a violent uprising encouraged by the plaintiffs, in which those members of the public who are in favour of secession, encouraged by their leaders, publicly disobeyed and showed collective resistance to the legitimate authority of the State". With reference to different episodes over the last two years, José Manuel Maza considers the rallies to have had, as their ultimate objective, the declaration of independence. He made it clear that the Catalan government, as the entity ultimately in charge of the movement, called on the public to take part in a violent uprising.