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VIDEO: Rights group blast Barcelona police for 'unjustified' violence

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VIDEO: Rights group blast Barcelona police for 'unjustified' violence
A protester is hit by a police baton during a demonstration last week. Photo: AFP
15:46 CEST+02:00
Human rights groups have called on Spanish authorities to curb police brutality after the violent protests that flared in Barcelona and to protect the right to peaceful protest.

Once again the world has seen images of riot police in Barcelona charging protestors during the demonstrations mobilised after the Supreme Court sentenced 12 Catalan political leaders for sedition for their role in the independence movement.

Peaceful protests gave way to angry demonstrations that saw masked protesters taking to the streets intent on causing damage, throwing projectiles at police, torching cars and buring rubbish bins as crowds were mobilised through social media by anew mysterious organisation called "Democratic Tsunami". 

Authorities responded by sending in riot police armed with tear gas and rubber bullets to control the protests. 

Images shared on social media show police chasing down protesters and battering them with batons and two people have lost vision in one eye after being caught in the face by rubber bullets fired into the crowds during clashes with police last week.

 

 

Complaints have been made about the actions of both the National Police and the Catalan police force, Mossos d’Esquadra.

Amnesty International has called on authorities in Spain “to take every necessary measure to support peaceful assembly and allow all people to freely and safely express their beliefs.”

“The mobilizations have been exceptionally peaceful, and though there have been certain acts of violence that have put certain people at risk, security forces must act with moderation,” said Esteban Beltrán, Director of Amnesty International Spain.

“We are conscious of the challenges faced by security forces, but excessive use of force and the inappropriate use of anti-riot weaponry by the police is never justified.”

According to the regional health authorities by Friday, over the past week, nearly 600 people have been hurt, including dozens of police officers. 

“It is very concerning the way anti-riot munitions are being used during these demonstrations. It is essential that all security forces show total adherence to the principles of necessity and proportionality in the use of force so that they respond to acts of violence appropriately and so that they thereby allow peaceful protesters to continue to demonstrate,” said Marie Struthers, Director of Amnesty International Europe.

Police have been slammed for using the practice colloquially known as the “carousel,” which entails advancing police vans toward a crowd to disperse it. Images show several people being mown down by vehicles.

“Amnesty International considers this an extremely dangerous manoeuver that can harm bystanders and those who are peacefully demonstrating.”

Local human rights groups including Síndic de Greuges have also denouncing police action against journalists reporting on the demonstrations.

Press freedom watchdog MediaCat reported 58 incidents of journalists being attacked during the demonstrations, including at least a dozen incidents at the hands of police.

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A masked protester poses as flames leap from a Barcelona street. Photo: AFP

 
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