Freedom for the Zaragoza 6!

In January 2019, authorities arrested six young people in Zaragoza, Spain, after they demonstrated against hate speech promoted by the far right. Despite a lack of incriminating evidence, the courts sentenced the protesters to prison terms and fines, which raised concerns about the Spanish government's criminalisation of protest and the impact of the "Gag Rule" on democratic rights.

 

On 17 January 2019, a demonstration was called in Zaragoza in rejection of the hate speech promoted by the far right. After several police charges and the order to dissolve the demonstration, hours later, 6 young people were randomly arrested at different points in the surrounding area. Four adults and two minors. These arrests took place at another time and place than the demonstration, their arrest being based on aesthetic prejudices.

The Provincial Court of Zaragoza tried these 6 young people, accused of a crime of public disorder and attack on authority. In January 2021, it handed down a sentence of 6 years in prison for the 4 adults and a fine of 11,000 euros as well as one year of probation for the 2 minors. However, this trial was determined by several factors going against the minimum guarantees of the accused:

The recordings of the security cameras at the scene of the incidents could not prove at any time the presence of the 6 young people in the altercations of which they are accused. However, the judge did not admit them as evidence.

The witnesses provided by the defense of the young men, who proved their innocence, were ignored.

And the only incriminating evidence with which the sentence was handed down was the testimony of the police officers involved, who incurred contradictions in their judicial statements.

As stated by the “Platform of Mothers and Fathers for the Absolution of the Zaragoza Six”:

“No incriminating evidence was provided in the trial so that in fact it was the very right to protest on which any full democracy is based that was being judged”

This concern has been backed by the multiple accusations and sentences of international organizations that denounce the impact on human rights and the repressive potential of the Spanish government’s “Gag Rule” (Ley Mordaza), especially because of the power conferred on the police. Amnesty International points to the case of the Zaragoza 6 as an example of the weakening of the right to protest.

In October 2021, the High Court of Justice of Aragon toughened the sentences, raising the prison sentence of the 4 young men to 7 years. This ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, as it was considered disproportionate and unjust. Finally, in February 2024, the Supreme Court handed down a sentence of 4 years and 9 months in prison for the four young men, along with sentences of financial fines.

This is a condemnation of all of us who organize politically in defense of democratic rights, equality, and freedom. The arrests of the Zaragoza 6 reflect the political decision to systematically criminalize protest, seeking to punish them to instill fear. It reinforces the political power of the police and judicial apparatuses, over and above the democratic rights won through centuries of struggle.

For these reasons, multiple relatives, friends, collectives and political and social organizations have been involved in supporting the Zaragoza 6, defending their innocence and preventing their entry into prison. During these years we have promoted multiple actions, such as:

  • rallies and demonstrations
  • events throughout the Spanish State explaining this case
  • expressions of support from the world of culture
  • selling T-shirts to pay for fines
  • collection of signatures and endorsements
  • media presence
  • speeches in the Cortes de Aragón, the Congress of Deputies, and the European Parliament

In addition to prison sentences, the four young men face heavy financial fines. Prison sentences are just as unfair as financial sentences. Fines are another way to convict these working-class youth, their family and friends. That is why, in addition to requesting a pardon, we want to help cover these fines in solidarity. If you also consider that demonstrating against the extreme right is not a crime, we encourage you to collaborate financially in this crowdfunding.

Visit the site Freedom for the Zaragoza 6


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