All posts by charlie_nurse_c_catalan

Promise Kept: 654,000 case-files included in the Database!

At the end of November 2017 Innovation and Human Rights held the official presentation of its centralised database of victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco Dictatorship in the Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona – CCCB). During that event, entitled Defending the Right to Know: Data Journalism and the Spanish Civil War,  we explained that we had entered the first 220,000 case-files into the database and we made the commitment to increase this to reach a total of 500,000 case-files within a year. You can find a summary of what was included in the database at that stage by reading the article Data for the Collective Historical Memory.

Today we are able to announce that not only have we reached this target of half a million case files, but that we have exceeded it. The database now contains 654,000 case files, all of which are supported by references to archives and historical research.

Now is the time to consult the database again.

Meanwhile the team at IHR are working to increase further the number of case-files in the database with the following three aims:

  • To assist the relatives of the victims and people who were repressed
  • To spread knowledge about the archives
  • To contribute to historical research

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Access to the names of victims of enforced disappearance denied

On 6 October 2017 Innovación y Derechos Humanos submitted a request to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations & Transparency (Departament d’Afers i Relacions Institucionals i Exteriors i Transparència – DRAEIT) asking for a copy of the Catalan Government’s census of people forcibly disappeared during the Spanish Civil War in order to include them in the central database which we are compiling of victims of the Civil War & the Franco Regime.

The Comission for the Rights of Access to Public Information (Comissió de Garantia del Dret d’Accés a la Informació Pública) which is the highest Catalan authority for access rights to information, has denied ihr.world access to the names of the people listed on the Generalitat de Catalunya’s census as having been forcibly “disappeared” during the Civil War.

The census data which the Generalitat is refusing to release was initiated by the Catalan Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory  (Asociación de Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica de Cataluña) and was then granted to the Generalitat. The Association still publishes on its website petitions from the relatives of victims of forced disappearance.

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights requested three years ago that the Spanish state should establish a centralized database of the victims of forced disappearance  (further information aquí ) CHECK LINK.

From our point of view, in this particular case, the public interest in this information and the assistance that this may be to the families of the disappeared overrides the protection of personal data, especially since, in these cases, the majority disappeared between 1936 and 1939. This means that, for example, someone aged 16 in 1939 would now be 95 years old.   

Moreover, there is a serious and absurd contradiction between, on the one hand, the Generalitat’s  release to the public of the  llista de reparació jurídica de víctimes del franquisme (a list of people granted judicial reparation by the Catalan government for sentences incurred under the Franco regime – which is included in our database), which lists the full names of people and covers the years 1939-1975 (the release of which, the Generalitat argues, is permitted by law) and, on the other hand, its refusal to make public the names listed in the census of victims who disappeared.

In November 2017, DRAEIT informed us that our request had been accepted and that the data had been published and could be downloaded via the open data gateway of the Generalitat. Even then, the data giving the first names and surnames of the disappeared had been replaced by their initials  so that they could be used for research purposes in history, statistics, science and gender studies while respecting the rights of the families by not publishing sensitive information about their forebears.

Faced with this response, we petitioned the  GAIP (the commission which guarantees the right of access to public information) asking why the data supplied did not match that requested – in other words, why the first names and surnames of the people listed had been replaced by their initials.

GAIP asked for a report on our request from the Catalan Authority on Data Protection (Autoritat Catalana de Protecció de Dades or APDCAT)

The conclusion which was reached by the report by APDCAT (see the report (12 pages, single spaced) is that the Regulations do not prevent access to information about those people who have disappeared in cases where a judicial declaration of their death is also included in the case file of the Generalitat.  However, in the cases of those disappeared people for whom there is no judicial declaration of death, the rules on data protection permit access only to the data disclosed, provided that this information does not permit their identification. 

In the first place, according to APDCAT, access to the details of the identity of these disappeared victims is information which should be of interest to their families only. “The objective of locating and identifying these people is based on the need to recognize their dignity and on the rights of their families to obtain information about their fate”.  APDCAT points out that the association has no connection with the families but requests access to the information about all of the people included in the database in line with the legislation on transparency. 

In the context of the investigation of the disappeared victims it is not possible to deny the interest of society in discovering the number of the disappeared, their origins and the circumstances in which they disappeared. This data is available to the general public via the open data portal and, according to APDCAT, should be sufficient “without unjustifiably sacrificing the privacy of the people who could be affected”.

On the other hand, the report is also based on the principal of the minimal presentation of data outlined in General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 of the European Parliament and European Council, which requires that “any required data processing, should be restricted to the minimum data necessary for the purpose”  

Secondly, with reference to the case for providing access for relatives to this information, the DRAEIT has responded by arguing that relatives already have access to the data base. “It is clear that access to the information requested does not appear justified in order for the victims’ families to obtain information which they already have or which they may obtain by means of channels expressly provided for them to access information held by the Administration.”    

Finally APDCAT states that it does not recognize  ihr.world as researchers and considers that access to this data cannot be provided wholesale and that its release should be evaluated on a case by case basis. “It is necessary to take into account that information relating to the circumstances of the disappearance of people during the Civil War and the ensuing period of Francoist repression is information of a sensitive character and divulging the identities of those affected implies interference not only in the privacy of the disappeared person him or herself but also in that of their family descendents”.  ¡This argument is precisely why it was necessary to pass a law in order to facilitate the release of the list of  llista de reparació jurídica de víctimes del franquisme! (see above for details)

As a result of the report from APDCAT of March 2018, GAIP (which, you may recall, is the commission for the rights of access to public information, with all of the responsibilities which this involves)  issued a report (15 pages single spaced) in which they refuse to allow access to the information requested.

The People Buried in the Valle de los Caídos: Where did they die?

This entry served as the basis for the article Estos son los otros muertos del Valle de los Caídos published by Juan Miguel Baquero  in eldiario.es on 1 September 2018.

The so-called “Valle de los Caídos” (Valley of the Fallen), built to commemorate the Spanish Civil War and opened to the public on 1 April 1959, the twentieth anniversary of Franco’s Victory in the War, is largest mass grave in Spain. It contains not only the remains of Francisco Franco but also those of over 33,000 other people; in many cases the remains of the victims were transferred without the consent or even the knowledge of their families. While this was the case with victims from both sides in the conflict, it particularly affected republicans, as pointed out earlier in Who else is buried in the “Valle de los Caídos”?

Innovation and Human Rights has now analysed data on the origins of 20,324 identified people whose corpses were transferred to the Valle de los Caídos, whose details have recently been added to our Central Database of the Victims of the Civil War & the Franco Regime – which now includes a total of some 252,000 case-files (*). Of those people identified only 157 are women.

Of the 20,324 corpses, 4,083 came from Madrid, a number which is the equivalent of seventy coachloads of people; another 3,902 came from Tarragona. What is really noteworthy is the unequal distribution of victims between different areas of Spanish territory. Nearly 70% of those transferred whose remains have been identified came from only four provinces: Madrid (20%), Tarragona (19%), Zaragoza (18%) and Teruel (12%).

There are three other provinces – Asturias, Lleida and Castellón – from which over 1,000 identified corpes were transferred. By contrast, according to these lists, there are no identified corpses registered from the provinces of Orense, Pontevedra or Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

This analysis corresponds to the dataset in our central database Víctimas enterradas en el Valle de los Caídos. This contains the case-files of over 20,000 people whose names were documented in the Libros registros de la Abadía de la Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos, which is a record of victims whose remains were received between 17 March 1959 and 3 July 1983. It should be noted that the website of the Abadia admits to not knowing the exact number of victims whose remains were transferred.

Years later nomesevoces.net , an inter-university research project on the Civil War and the Francoist repression in Galicia, obtained this list by analysing the map of mass graves published by the Ministry of Justice (see  Mapa de Fosas del Ministerio de Justicia.)

Innovation and Human Rights is working to establish access to all of the documentation which exists on the Civil War and the Franco Dictatorship. It currently has signed agreements with the following organisations: the Associació d’Arxivers i Gestors Documentals de Catalunya; the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (in respect of nomesevoces.net ) and the CRAI- Biblioteca Pavelló de la República. It is also a member of the Coalición Pro-Acceso.

(*) When we published this article on 25 September 2018 we had 252,000 case-files.

Who else is buried in the “Valle de los Caídos”?

If the current plans are implemented, the remains of the Dictator Francisco Franco will soon be exhumed from the so-called “Valle de los Caídos” or “Valley of the Fallen.” The mausoleum, erected to commemorate the Spanish Civil War,  is the largest mass-grave in Spain. It opened to the public on 1 April 1959, on  the 20th anniversary of Franco’s victory in this war. It contains not only the remains of Franco but also those of more than 33,000 other people who had been killed during the Civil War. In many cases these were transferred without the consent or even the knowledge of the victims’ families; this affected victims and their families on both sides of the Civil War, but especially for those who had supported the Republicans.

Even today, there are families which have throughout their lives taken flowers to graves without knowing whether they were empty or not. To help them, we have included the dataset Víctimas enterradas en el Valle de los Caídos (Victims Buried in the Valley of the Fallen) in the ihr.world  database – which now contains more than 700.000 personal records (*).

This dataset contains the personal records of more than 20,000 people whose names are documented in the Registers of the Abbey of Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos. These books contain the names of people whose remains were transferred to the mausoleum between 17 March 1959 and 3 July 1983. The Abbey’s website, however, admits that the exact number of people whose remains are buried here is unknown (admite desconocer el número exacto de restos). 

Work on the construction of the “Valley of the Fallen” began in 1940 and continued until 1959. The labour force included about 20,000 Republican prisoners who had been sentenced to forced labour. It was originally planned as a commemorative monument in honour of those who had been killed in the “glorious crusade”, as the victorious campaign by Franco’s forces during the Civil War was described. However it was later redesignated as a “symbol of reconciliation” and, as a result, the remains of victims from the Republican side were transferred to be reburied here.

The monument is characterised by the 150 metre-high stone cross, which is considered to be the “highest Christian cross in the world”. Visible from a distance of 40 kilometres, it is a similar height to, for example, the Mapfre Tower in Barcelona, the Picasso Tower in Madrid or the Iberdrola Tower in Bilbao. It belongs to the Patrimonio Nacional, which is part of the Ministry of Culture.

In her book, Els morts clandestins. Les fosses comunes de la Guerra Civil a Catalunya (1936-1939) [“The Clandestine Dead: The Mass-Graves of the Civil War in Catalonia”] the historian Queralt Solé has published the results of her research into the transfer of the mortal remains of Civil War victims, both supporters of the Republic and those who supported the military coup from mass-graves in Catalonia to the “Valley of the Fallen.” In addition the Catalan documentary  Avi et trauré d’aquí  [in English: “Grandfather I will get you out of here”] (Sense Ficció, CCMA, 2013) records the testimonies of families, the remains of whose relatives transferred without their permission or even their awareness.

The dataset “Victims Buried in the Valley of the Fallen” is taken from a list derived from the Mapa de Fosas del Ministerio de Justicia by nomesevoces.net , which is a joint-university research project on the Civil War and the Francoist repression in Galicia.

(*) When we published this article on 13 September 2018 we had 252.000 personal records.

A summer (Saint George’s Day) ‘de memoria’

During the summer months people usually have more time for reading. With this in mind we have decided to highlight this article which we originally published in Catalan on 22 April, just before International Book Day.

To mark this first Sant Jordi or St George’s Day since the publication of the centralised database (of victims of the Civil War and the Franco Regime by ihr.world, we wish to recommend a selection of some of the recently published books which we have come across.

Els catalans als camps nazis (Edicions 62) is a newly revised edition of the monumental work of the journalist and writer Montserrat Roig (Barcelona 1946-1991). This is based on her research over a period of three years to collect the names and reconstruct the histories of the people who, after fleeing from the repression of the Civil War, ended up in French concentration camps, from where, following the Nazi occupation of France, they were deported to Nazi extermination camps. Thirty-two years after its first publication this book is still relevant and of interest. This new edition includes a prologue by the historian Rosa Toran, of the association Amical de Mathausen.

“The Spanish who were held in the Nazi concentration camps, for whom there exists documentary records, number 9,328” according to the expert Carlos Hernández-. Of those 5,185 died, 3,809 survived and 334 are listed as disappeared.

Papeles de Plomo. Los voluntarios uruguayos en la Guerra de España (Ed. Descontrol) is a collaborative work by three writers – the anthropologist Sergio Yanes, the archaeologist Carlos Marín and the historian María Cantabrana. Their research uncovers the stories of the 80 Uruguayan volunteers who fought in the Civil War. Although it is based mainly on archive work in Spain, Uruguay, Argentina, Russia and the Netherlands and on research in newspaper archives, it also includes about thirty interviews with descendants of those who fought. This volume is the result of a research project entitled “Los voluntarios uruguayos en la Guerra Civil española”, which was funded by the Fondo Concursable para la Cultura of the Uruguayan Ministry of Culture. One of the interesting features is that many of the descendants were traced by means of the establishment of a blog entitled La columna uruguaya, where you can find a biographies of all of the volunteers.

Barcelona al servei del Nuevo Estado (Eumo Editorial) is a study by the historian Marc Gil of the purging of the officials of the Ayuntamiento (Municipal Council) of Barcelona immediately after the end of the Civil War. The author has studied the collection of over 7,000 personal case-files from the purging process which is held in the Arxiu Municipal Contemporani in Barcelona and has assembled a database from the files of the 2.361 officials whose cases were opened by the investigating judges and which were carried through to the end of the purge process. He reveals details of the declarations required from officials, who were often incited to incriminate their own colleagues. He also draws some interesting conclusions, which are accompanied by tables and graphs.

Finally, Moriren dues vegades (Lleonard Muntaner Editor) is a reconstruction of the terrible story of five volunteer Red Cross nurses who accompanied the Republican forces led by Captain Alberto Bayo in their attempt in August 1936 to retake the island of Mallorca, which had fallen to the military rebels at the outbreak of the Civil War. In the face of the superior strength of the rebels, who had been recently reinforced by Italian troops, the Republicans were finally to abandon the island.

The five nurses were behind to face their own fates – they were captured, humiliated, tortured and executed. Two of them were members of a Catalan family and sisters, Daria y Mercè Buxadé, who had been born in Mexico and who had moved to Catalonia in 1920. The author, Antoni Tugores, reconstructs their stories from documentation contributed by their families and rescues their reputations which had been blackened by lies and thus also killed by Francoist accounts. The introduction is by Llorenç Capellà, the author of the Diccionari Vermell, which was published in Palma in 1989 and which contains the biographies of hundreds of people killed during the Civil War and the post-war period.

This book is of particular interest to us because we have been following reports of the disinterment of the mass-grave of Porrores via the association Memòria de Mallorca as well as the legislative changes in the Balearic Islands which have introduced fines for the offence of displaying Francoist symbols.

¡Feliz día de Sant Jordi (verano) de memoria!

The UN requests justice for 114.226 victims of enforced disappearance

The Working Group on Forced or Involuntary Disappearances of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has published a devastating report on Spain, which, in the space of 144 pages, denounces the failure to comply with the recommendations which it made in its report to the Spanish government in 2014. The most regrettable aspect of this is that this has gone largely unreported by most of the Spanish media.

Innovation and Human Rights contributed to this report. The full report may be consulted here. The section which deals specifically with Spain begins on page 120. Our contributions appear on pages 170, 172, 177, 181, 203, 209 and 211. Below we have reproduced some sections in Spanish.

Especialmente preocupante resulta el constatar que la mayoría de las recomendaciones fundamentales para que los familiares de personas desaparecidas durante la Guerra Civil y la dictadura puedan investigar la suerte y el paradero de sus seres queridos, tener acceso a la verdad, a la justicia y a reparaciones no han sido plenamente implementadas, y que hasta la fecha los familiares están librados a su propia suerte. Estas observaciones resultan aún más alarmantes dado el transcurso del tiempo desde que la mayor parte de las desapariciones forzadas comenzaron a ejecutarse y la edad muy avanzada de muchos testigos y familiares. Hasta la fecha el Estado español no ha actuado con la debida urgencia y celeridad en materia de desapariciones forzadas ni ha asumido un rol de liderazgo para asegurar una política de Estado en este tema como se había recomendado en el informe de visita. [punto 33]

El Grupo de Trabajo vuelve a insistir en la importancia de que el Estado tome un rol activo en materia de exhumación y procesos de identificación de los restos para que éstos no dependan exclusivamente de algunas comunidades autónomas, así como de particulares o asociaciones privadas. [punto 38]

El Grupo de Trabajo lamenta la respuesta del Gobierno que entendería la creación de una Comisión de la verdad como una nvestigación histórica. El Grupo de Trabajo, en su comentario general sobre el derecho a la verdad en relación con las desapariciones forzadas, señaló que este derecho se refiere “al derecho a conocer los progresos y resultados de una investigación, la suerte y el paradero de las personas desaparecidas y las circunstancias de la desaparición, así como la identidad del autor o los autores de la desaparición” (A/HRC/16/48, párr. 39). Las familias de los desaparecidos en España quieren conocer la verdad sobre la suerte o el paradero de sus seres queridos. Este es un derecho absoluto de acuerdo a la Declaración y una obligación que el Estado español debería satisfacer de acuerdo al derecho internacional. [punto 41]

El Grupo de Trabajo lamenta igualmente la falta de información proveída sobre la recomendación de promover que las asociaciones de víctimas faciliten la recolección de muestras de los familiares por parte del Banco Nacional de ADN y recuerda la centralidad de éstas para la elaboración de bases de datos que sean eficaces en la búsqueda de los desaparecidos, en particular en contextos de desapariciones masivas. [punto 42]

El Grupo de Trabajo permanece preocupado frente a la falta de información suministrada luego del informe acerca de la promulgación de una ley de acceso a la información y de un marco legislativo apropiado sobre archivos para garantizar el acceso público a los mismos. En efecto, entonces se había alertado que los obstáculos presentes en el acceso a la información y a los archivos constituyen un verdadero problema para las víctimas en el proceso de obtención de la verdad. [punto 43]

El Grupo de Trabajo sigue consternado por el hecho de que hasta la fecha no se haya velado por garantizar el ejercicio de la jurisdicción de los tribunales españoles sobre los delitos de desaparición forzada ocurridos durante la Guerra Civil y la dictadura. Se observa
con preocupación la permanencia de un patrón de impunidad basado en una serie de factores y argumentos contrarios a los principios que emergen de las obligaciones internacionales de España, incluida la Declaración para la protección de todas las personas contra las desapariciones forzadas. [punto 44]

Considerando los impedimentos para llevar a la justicia casos de desapariciones forzadas cometidos durante la Guerra Civil y el franquismo en España, el Grupo de Trabajo permanece preocupado por la información sobre constantes obstrucciones al procedimiento judicial excepcional llevado a cabo por la justicia argentina (Juzgado Nacional en lo Criminal y Correccional Federal nº1 de la República Argentina). La apertura reciente de una investigación en México por un caso de desaparición forzada cometido en España durante el franquismo representa otra oportunidad para que España preste y fortalezca el auxilio judicial, incluyendo el suministro de todas las pruebas que obren en su poder, en lo que respecta a cualquier procedimiento penal relativo a delitos de desaparición forzada que se lleve a cabo en cualquier país por casos de desapariciones forzadas en España. [punto 45]

Igualmente, la Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos (AEDIDH) destaca:

El Gobierno español rechaza asumir sus obligaciones internacionales en materia de búsqueda de personas desaparecidas, incluso cuando media denuncia de familiares de la víctima. Los familiares cuentan únicamente con la solidaridad de las asociaciones para la recuperación de la memoria histórica, que funcionan con los recursos de los propios familiares, ya que no reciben ningún apoyo estatal en la búsqueda de personas desaparecidas. Estimamos que hay 150.000 personas desaparecidas durante la guerra civil y posterior represión franquista (incluidos 30.000 bebés o menores cuya identidad fue alterada y que fueron vendidos o dados en adopción a familias adictas al régimen franquista, para proceder a su reeducación). Excepcionalmente las familiares de las victimas reciben apoyo de instituciones locales y regionales (ayuntamientos, gobiernos de Comunidades autónomas) que no esté controladas por el Partido Popular. Ej.: ciudades como Madrid, Barcelona, Vitoria, Valencia. Y Comunidades autónomas como País Vasco, Navarra, Cataluña y Andalucía.)

Y así lo explica también en el artículo  La ONU censura a España por no cumplir con sus recomendaciones en materia de desapariciones forzadas

La cifra de 114.226 víctimas proviene de la Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica (ARMH), que en el informe dice:

“Desde el año 2011, concretamente, en la Orden PRE/809/2011, de 4 de abril de 2011, el Gobierno Español no ha destinado partida presupuestaria alguna para actividades relacionadas con la recuperación de la Memoria Histórica y por ende a la búsqueda de personas desaparecidas durante la dictadura franquista.”

También participa Marc Antoni Malagarriga, uno de los impulsores del Banco de ADN en Catalunya para que familiares de víctimas de desaparición forzada puedan depositar muestras que faciliten la identificación de restos encontrados en fosas, creado en 2011 y ahora cedido a la Generalitat. Podéis consultar este post para saber más. En este informe del Grupo de Trabajo sobre desapariciones forzadas o involuntarias del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas por los Derechos Humanos, Malagarriga denuncia:

“La principal prueba que demuestra la dejadez en la prioridad y urgencia de identificar a los desaparecidos, consiste en ver que las muestras de los donantes genéticos del Banco de ADN en Catalunya (en junio de 2011 se tomaron las primeras muestras), no han sido utilizadas aún para ningún cotejo de datos con los restos ya exhumados en este territorio. Hay un mínimo de 150 cuerpos de víctimas exhumadas que tendrían que ser comparadas exhaustivamente con las más de 500 muestras que ahora mismo ya existen sumando los dos bancos públicos catalanes (UB+VHIR). Nótese que más del 90% de las familias de los desaparecidos de este territorio, no sabemos por donde debemos empezar a buscar.”

Foto Exhumación de la ARMH by FCPB CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Francoist Reprisals against Minorcans

On 30 July we published an article in the Minorca daily newspaper ‘Menorca’ under the title Minorcan Victims of Reprisals, with a list of names (follow the link en castellano)

This was based on the open data provided by the National Archive of Catalonia, which was discussed in the previous article ‘Victims of Francoism en Catalonia finally available on #opendata’.

Minorca remained loyal to the Republic throughout the Civil War. It was the site of one of the last battles of the war, between 4th and 9th February 1939. Hundreds of Republicans were able to escape to Marseilles in the British cruiser HMS Devonshire following British mediation and another 75 left for Algeria in the yacht Carmen Pico. However many more waited in vain in Maó for a ship which never arrived. Antoni Pons Melià has compiled a list of those killed in the repression in Minorca in his book Victimes del silenci while stories of the reprisals on the island have been collected by Bartolomeu Pons Sintes in Memorias de un preso político.

The people listed in the article in ‘Menorca’ were not the only victims during the Civil War and the Francoist period. It is also clear that the repression was not limited to these judicial procedures. The data published by the National Archives of Catalonia are based on the archives of the Military Tribunals of Region Three [Tribunal Militar Territorial Tercero] but are not exhaustive. As a result the Innovation and Human Rights continues to work for the establishment of a central database which includes all the victims.

Photo: Trench and artillery post in Cavalleria, Minorca [C. Catalan]

Victims of Francoism in Catalonia, finally available on #opendata

This week the National Archives of Catalonia have published a list of 69.769 files of people who were victims of repression during the Civil War and during the Franco Regime in a reusable format #opendata.

This followed the release of a pdf version, (ie not reusable) a few days earlier, as a result of the publication in the Diari Oficial de la Generalitat de Catalunya (DOGC) the official register of Generalitat de Catalunya, of Llei 11/2017 de reparació jurídica de las víctimes del franquisme, which provides for judicial restitution of the victims of Francoism. This law declares that the military tribunals of the Franco regime were illegal and symbolically annuls those sentences and rulings which were politically inspired.

We welcome the fact that Catalonia has now joined Galicia and the Basque Country by publishing a list of the victims of the Franco regime. It is, however, important to add two important points:

1- The database which is being released has existed since 2015. Part of the list had already been published on the Guia de la serie documental Procediments Judicials Militars (Sumarissims) 1939-1980, which  includes statistical data and the names of the 3,358 people executed were known, including 17 women (one of whom, Carme Claramunt appears in the photo at the beginning of this article).

The Guide was compiled by the National Archives of Catalonia as a result of archive work lasting ten years following an agreement with the Archives of the Tribunal Militar Territorial Tercero [TMT3] (the Military Tribunal of the Third Region) which provided complete access to its records. The TMT3 archives continue to hold all the documentation and requests for specific information should be directed there [Email:  archivotribunalmilitarbcn@oc.mde.es ; Postal address: Portal de la Pau, s/n – 08002 Barcelona ]

2-The data published help us to understand the dimensions of the repression which occurred but they are nowhere near exhaustive. There are a total of 28 military archives in Spain and many others with documentation from this period, covering prisons, Francoist concentration camps, military disciplinary labour battalions, workers battalions…

We are in the process of compiling this information but in Catalonia we are still awaiting the opening of the database of the Centre d’Història Contemporània with their reference to archives, as well as those of the Barcelona prisons (the collections of documentation of the male Presó Model and the female Presó de Les Corts by the National Archives of Catalonia, and many other records in numerous archives.

Publication of the victims’ names comes after extensive background work. On 15 September 2016 Guillermo Blasco and I had our first interview with Mireia Plana, Deputy Director of Memòria, Pau i Drets Humans, and Plàcid Garcia-Planas, of Memorial Democràtic, in which we explained the ihr.world project to assemble a central database on the Civil War. We offered to cooperate with them to put together the material already available in the different institutions of the Generalitat de Catalunya and we asked them to open up the database of the Cost Humà de la Guerra Civil, of the Centre d’Història Contemporània, whose records can only be accessed one at a time.

The idea of creating a central database listing the victims of the Civil War had been sown over a year before, while we were researching in the Barcelona Television (BTV) datalab for the publication of 800 days under bombardment: Barcelona during the Civil War (unfortunately this is now only available in an Italian-language version). Since the IV International Open Data Conference was due to be held in Madrid in the following October – the first time it was hosted in Europe – I decided to send suggestions and proposals. When, as a result, I was chosen to join the panel on Open Data and Humanitarian Causes, the proposal for #GuerraCivil #opendata became the seed for Innovation and Human Rights (ihr.world).

Since that first meeting on 15 September last year we have sent petitions for data to numerous organisations, both in Catalonia and in other parts of Spain. Locally we have been in contact with the Departament d’Afers i Relacions Institucionals i Exteriors i Transparència of the Generalitat, the Tribunal Militar Territorial Tercero (the Military Tribunal of the Third Region), and the National Archives of Catalonia, as well as other archives and private institutions, in addition to investigators, researchers and historians. Some of these requests have been more successful than others.

Finally we draw your attention to two relevant articles. In his article “Cuando la prensa se ausenta” (lamarea.com) Gervasio Sánchez rightly points to the importance of the lack of interest shown by the media over the past forty years in the human rights record of the Franco regime. Meanwhile in PuntAvui attention has been drawn to the current poor condition of the Campo de la Bota, which was the site of the executions in Barcelona during the Franco regime.

Photo: Carme Claramunt, executed by firing squad on 18 April 1939 in the Campo de la Bota [Courtesy of Emilio Ferrando, historian and author of ‘Executada’]

The Catalan Parliament Approves the Annulment of the Political Trials of the Franco Regime

A plenary session of the Catalan Parliament has approved the introduction of a bill which would provide legal restoration for the victims of the Franco regime.

The purpose of this bill is to remove the legality of all of the “summary courts martial and of the sentences passed by them” for political motives in Catalonia under the Francoist regime.
This decision was made during the week in which the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture was celebrated.

The bill was introduced into the Catalan parliament by the following parties: Junts pel Sí (JxS), Catalunya Sí que es Pot (CSP) y Candidatura d’Unitat Popular – Crida Constituent (CUP-CC) and the Business Committee of the Parliament gave approval for it to begin its legislative path on 24 May 2016. The text of the original draft is available on pages 2-4 of the following document:

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The two articles of the bill are as follows:

Article 1

It is hereby declared null and void any judicial ruling made by all of the summary courts martial and any sentences imposed as a consequence, where made for political purposes, in Catalonia by the Francoist regime under the following: the Proclamation of 28 July 1936; the Decree of 31 August 1936; Decree No. 55 of 1 November 1936; the Law of 2 March 1943; the Law of 18 April 1947; Decree 1794/60 of 21 September; and Decree Law 10/75, of 26 August.

Article 2

In accordance with this law, the Department of Justice of the Generalitat of Catalonia will issue a certificate confirming the annulment of the court procedure and any sentences resulting therefrom on request from those accused or from their families.

Once introduced, proposed bills go through a long procedure through the Catalan Parliament before becoming law.

 

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Victory for Ascensión Mendieta

In 2010 the Guadalajara branch of the  Izquierda Unida party published a list of the hundreds of victims of the Francoist repression in the province.The list included the names of 839 people who were shot. Of these 217 were executed in the city of Guadalajara itself: 69 of these were natives of the province and the remaining 148 came from other provinces.  Ihr.world aims to use documents such as this list, wherever possible supported by references to the archives, to create a central database of the victims of the Civil War and the subsequent Franco regime.

At the age of thirteen Ascensión Mendieta, the daughter of one of the men on this list, opened the door of her home because someone was knocking. A group of men took her father away and executed him. She never saw him again and has spent her life taking flowers to the city cemetery, knowing that her father’s body had been thrown into a mass grave there. Since 2013 she has been fighting to recover the remains of her father; her efforts have finally been successful.

Timoteo Mendieta, who worked as a butcher, was shot on 15 November 1939 after being tried by a court martial on charges of having belonged to the Socialist UGT trade union and of having been ‘an accomplice to rebellion’. He left behind a widow and seven children. Later a wall was built in the cemetery to prevent families such as the Mendietas gaining access to the mass grave. This wall was only demolished in 1979, four years after the death of Franco.

The Spanish justice system refused to allow Ascensión Mendieta to exhume her father’s corpse. Blocked in this way, she flew to Buenos Aires, celebrating her 88th birthday on the flight, to testify before the Argentine judge María Servini in what has become known as the  “Argentine lawsuit”.

As a result of this, Ascensión Mendieta has become the first descendent of a victim of execution by the Francoist state to gain the right to exhume the remains of one of their relatives. For the first time also the descendent of such a victim has been able prove before a judicial system (in this case an Argentine court under universal justice) using documentary evidence – as opposed to DNA evidence – what happened to him, that he was executed, thrown into a mass grave and that his relatives were prevented from gaining access to his remains. Such cases are not permitted in Spain as a result of the 1977 Amnesty Law. In the words of the lawyer Ana Messuti, interviewed on SER radio, the role of the courts in Guadalajara in accepting the ruling of the Argentine judge has been of fundamental importance.

Few Spanish media outlets have followed this story. Among those which have are the TV channel La Sexta and the newspapers, Público and eldiario.es:

For photos relating to this case go to flickr of the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) . The association financed the two exhumations in Guadalajara cemetery: in grave no. 1 in January 2016, which proved negative, and in grave no. 2, last May, which proved positive. There is also a photo of the chief Justice of Guadalajara greeting Ascensión Mendieta.

ARMH is a non-governmental organisation which receives no state support. The most important contribution for this exhumation was provided by an electricians’ union from Norway which since 2014 has donated 50,000 euros.