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I stand by the enemy

This is an article I wrote back in February 2012, and I must admit I was pretty angry when I wrote it. This was when, after some demonstrations by 14 and 15-year-old students in Valencia, the police charged quite unnecessarily. Later on, the chief of police, in a press conference, referred to the students -14 and 15 year olds, I insist- as “the enemy”.

Here are a few paragraphs from the article:

Because the crux of the matter is just there. In the blatant disproportion. Anti-riot police, armed to the teeth against youngsters, -I repeat that many of them were minors- with their backpacks full of books, notes, pencils and compasses, and repress them with truncheon blows is disproportionate both here and in Ouagadougou. 


The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials say very clearly that the use of force is to be proportional and legitimate and that it is to be the minimum use required by the situation. In this case, news footage clearly show that minimum use of force was not the case. Article 20 of these principles urges law enforcement officials to seek a pacific solution to conflicts and to use persuasion, negotiation and mediation techniques. This was all the contrary. I have seen in television that the ones using -quite in vain unfortunately- techniques of persuasion, negotiation and mediation were the students who were protesting, as well as other protesters and some bystanders.

Law enforcement is not an easy job. Nobody said it would be. Policing can be very disagreeable and more so if they do not scrupulously follow international standards, because the result is they generate mistrust in the society they are supposed to serve. As a matter of conviction, I strongly believe they should be the front-line human rights defenders, but footage like what we have seen makes one think all the contrary. And it is not the media’s fault. Those who do not respect the principle of proportionality in the use of force -the police, their superiors or political decision-makers- are complicating their task all by themselves because they sow mistrust in society.

And the worst is we are appealed not to provide an image of “street fighting” and we are asked to recover “social peace”. But who was it that put violence in the streets in the first place in this case? After the Chief of Police in Valencia said he could not reveal details of his force “to the enemy”, I cannot help asking myself who it was he was considering “the enemy”. Because if the enemy is whoever questions this type of action, then I stand by the enemy. I prefer young people demonstrating in the street, pacifically questioning this type of things, rather than passive lambs watching Big Brother on the telly. As I said, I stand by the enemy”.

It is my intention to translate all of my articles into English in due course. Once I get to translate this particular article, I will publish the full translation here. In the meantime, you can see the full article in Spanish in the link below.

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