Human rights activist: “The trial’s outcome will have consequences here but also in Europe”


Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Jody Williams, denounces human rights violations in Spain at an event in Barcelona

Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Jody Williams, analysed the threats and the current and future challenges of our rights together with three civil society organisations from Catalonia that defend human rights: Òmnium Cultural, Oxfam Intermón and Fundació Per la Pau at the debate “Civil society facing regressions of human rights – Local struggles, global repercussions” at the CCCB in Barcelona this Thursday.

During the conversation with the Catalan journalist Ariadna Oltra, Jody Williams explained how the Spanish ambassador had tried to boycott Òmnium International’s event at the Council of Europe on Wednesday. “What right does he have to tell me that I cannot say what I have seen at the trial? Spain is afraid of listening, and especially to foreigners, who aren’t obliged to say what the State wants to hear,” she said. Williams furthermore, stated that the Spanish State scares her. “The trial’s outcome will have consequences here but also in Europe,” she added.

And she continued: “everything that is happening in Catalonia, this repression, has to do with the fundamental rights of everyone, not only of the political prisoners. If we are not able to defend them, what will happen when the State wants to condemn all of us?,” the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize laureate insisted. Jody Williams was initially called in by Jordi Cuiaxart’s defence to testify in the trial, but her testimony was rejected by the Spanish Supreme Court.

On the other hand, Òmnium’s vice-president, Marcel Mauri, denounced the fact that he was the one participating today in this debate. “It is a situation of abnormality,” he said. “Instead, Jordi Cuixart, a pacifist and an activist linked to the defence of the rights and freedoms of everyone should be the one participating,” he added.

Andrea Costafreda
from Oxfam Intermón pointed out that “states cut others off to defend their privileges and they are cutting back rights. Many countries coexist with impunity and stigmatization of democratic spaces: creating laws that cut back rights like the freedom of assembly, for example”. And Jordi Armadans from Fundació Per la Pau said that the number of refugees in the world has doubled throughout the past 20 years and that more and more money is spent on the military. “The right to life is in danger,” he insisted.

Furthermore, Òmnium Cultural’s vice-president said that the positive thing of today is the collective awareness of the violation of rights. “The ‘Gag Law’ has persecuted more than 20,000 people. This official number would most likely have been difficult to gather years ago. Now in Catalonia, there is an awareness”, he said emphasising that Òmnium always tries to create awareness campaigns like for example ‘Demà Pots Ser Tu’ [Tomorrow it could be you]. “Rights are defended by exercising them. And all this comes from a legacy of shared struggles in the past. That is why there is hope,” he concluded.

Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is here these days to follow the trial against the Catalan civil society and political leaders at the Spanish Supreme Court and to denounce the ongoing violations of human rights and repression in Spain and Catalonia after she was rejected as a witness in the trial. 

(Photos: Dani Codina)

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