Category Archives: post-en

blog posts not directly related to new datasets included in our database – en

Some Recommendations for Summer Reading

Top of the list of summer reading recommended by Innovation & Human Rights this year is La vall de la matança (Cossetània Edicions, 2012), by Josep Masanés, a writer from Barcelona now based in Menorca. This novel won the award for Narrative Fiction at the 29th  Ribera d’Ebre Book Fair. It tells the story of the Civil War struggle by Republican troops led by Captain Creus and Second-lieutenant Ciurana during an attack on Francoist defensive positions held by the fearsome Major Marín. Although this attack resulted in victory, the Republican armies were forced to continued retreating.  Summoned in front of the General Staff, Creus and Ciurana were entrusted with a difficult mission. As they carry this out we meet the other men chosen for the mission including Ulldevidre, Reimann and Homs.  By the end of the Civil War we have learnt about their fears, their desires and their loves, along with the enemies who pursue them, personified by the diabolical Major Marín. Josep Masanés has paid tribute to the influence of the American writer, Cormac McCarthy.

Our second recommendation is La memòria de l’Oracle (Edicions del 1984, published in 2018), the third novel of Pere Joan Martorell, which won the Premio Mallorca de Narrativa 2017.  In this the author reflects on the human condition in a harrrowing tale set in the brutal atmosphere of the Civil War on the island of Mallorca. The story follows the search for their father by Jacob and his family: his mother, his aunt and his uncle. Jacob himself is the omniscient narrator who begins his account from within his mother’s womb. The novel offers a double perspective: it takes place both at the time of the conflict and during the post-war years. It is neither a historical novel nor a documentary.  The author details the barbarity and the dark times of the Fascist period in Mallorca. Martorell’s language is both rich and poetic.

While we are on the subject of the Balearic Islands, we cannot fail to recommend Llibre d’Exilis (2018), by Josep Portella, a biographical dictionary of Menorcan exile. This is a work which took over seven years of research, documenting the lives of Menorcans who were driven into exile by the Civil War and the Franco Regime. It is a volume of great documentary value: extending to over 700 pages and  including over 1,000 photographs, it is a major contribution to the recovery of historical memory in Menorca. It was published in collaboration with the local council (Consell Insular de Menorca).

Another book which is highly recommended is Las heridas (Editorial Pepitas de Calabaza, 2012), by  Norman Bethune, translated from English by Natalia Fernández. Norman Bethune, the Canadian doctor is famous for the role played by his medical units during the Spanish Civil War and, later, with the Chinese armies during the Second Sino-Japanese War. He is considered to have developed the first mobile blood transfusion service in Spain in 1936. This small but interesting volume is a compilation of his fundamental writings. In the first part, Bethune defends the idea of universal medical attention. In the second, he narrates the events which he witnessed as a doctor during the flight of the population of the city of Málaga along the road towards Almería in February 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The third part describes the privations of life in China and his work for the cause of medicine there.  

Finally, since it has been topical recently, we take this opportunity to recommend Los Girasoles Ciegos (Editorial Anagrama, 2004, published in English as Blind Sunflowers, Arcadia Books, 2008). This, the only published work of Alberto Méndez, consists of four connected tales:  “If the heart could think it would cease to beat”,; “Manuscript found in oblivion”; “The language of the dead”; “Blind sunflowers” .  This is in many ways a grim book, reflecting the atmosphere of the Civil War and the post-war Francoist repression.  A Spanish-language film version of the novel was released in 2008.

La Barranca: 40th Anniversary

There were few armed confrontations in La Rioja during the Spanish Civil War. The troops of General Mola entered Logroño, the provincial capital, on 19 July 1936 and the repression was ferocious, as the researcher Jesús Vicente Aguirre explains in Aquí nunca pasó nada (2007). When there was no space to bury the dead left in the city cemetery, the firing squads chose the location of La Barranca, eight kilometres south of Logroño. The political prisoners were forced to dig the pits at the edges of which the nightly shootings were carried out.

In the Dehesa Almida, the ravine of Barriguelo, in the district of Lardero, near Logroño, in the heart of La Rioja, over 400 people were murdered between the months of September and December of 1936: workers, farmers and day-labourers, tailors, barbers, builders, carpenters, teachers, government officials, mayors and councillors, political militants, union members, people of good will.

In the early years following the end of the Civil War, mothers and widows used to go on foot from the neighbouring villages to spend the day in La Barranca, where you can still see the mounds of earth which indicate the two large mass graves and the beginnings of a third one. In secret, they did this, year after year.

In this place, the “women in black” ( las mujeres vestidas de negro ) were the people who, by their presence, would finally write the most terrible and the most beautiful page in the historical memory of La Rioja. As a result of their efforts, on 1 May 1979 La Barranca was converted into a Civil Cemetery.

Today, 40 years later, the anniversary is being celebrated, 83 years after those brutal murders. Innovación y Derechos Humanos also wishes to use this anniversary to remember all of these innocent victims. For more information follow this link to view a video . At La Barranca you can also see the “Map of the Prisoners” (“mapa de los presos”), which was recovered from the concentration camp which operated in the bull-ring (“plaza de toros”) of Manzanera in Logroño. For the history of this map follow this link to an article which is on the website of the La Barranca Association , where there is also a poem by Máximo Sicilia which we will use to close:

You are not alone;

You are not alone or forgotten

There are still a few of us

Of those who are living, of those who feel,

And who bear witness your murders,

We come here, to remember you,

And so that people never forget

The holocaust.

So that your children and grandchildren

And those of your brothers and sisters,

Also remember it

And so that here in this place,

They will come, year after year;

Until the end of the world,

To remember it,

And I know that you can hear me, my mind can feel it,

What energy there is in the mind;

And that energy

Is in our minds

And, there, in space

They form stars,

Which get mixed with 

The other heavenly bodies,

And they send you a greeting

The greeting which you taught me

When I was a child,

Salud, Comrades, Salud

And until next year, when we will come back again.

Photograph:  Jesús Rocandio (archivo Casa de la Imagen,Logroño)

Happy World Book Day ‘de memoria’

Having been active for over two years, Innovation and Human Rights wishes to mark World Book Day,  as we did last year, by offering our recommendations of a selection of books relating to the Spanish Civil War and Francoism.  For last year’s selection follow this link.

These will appear in three sections, each dealing with a different theme.  We begin today with (1) New books. This will be followed by (2) Memoirs of the war and the postwar years by women and (3) Forced labour during the Franco period.  

New Books

  • Los campos de concentración de Franco– The author, journalist Carlos Hernández defines his research as a “collective work” but he deserves the praise for giving it a new perspective, by synthesising and then presenting in such a striking form the reality of the world of the Francoist concentration camps, particularly in the post-war period. This is achieved through a chronological narrative with horrifying testimonies by survivors across all parts of Spain. It is impossible to continue ignoring the tragic and hitherto silenced reality of cruelty, torture and murder experienced by the defeated.  In 2005 Javier Rodrigo listed 188 camps in his  pioneering work of historiographical research Cautivos: campos de concentración en la España franquista, 1936-1947 . Hernández has increased the number by listing almost 300 and has provided an accompanying website with links to interesting videos of testimonies and an interactive map on which the user may,  for example, locate the first concentration camp opened by the rebels on  19 July 1936: la Alcazaba de Zelouan in what was then Spanish Morocco  (today Kasbah de Selouane, twelve kilomtres south of Nador, en Morocco).   The names of over a thousand of the prisoners in this concentration camp taken  from documentation in the Archivo General Militar de Guadalajara, are included in our database.
  • Diccionario de Memoria Colectiva –  This is a collective work, compiled by the historian Ricard Vinyes, which contains 269 entries written by 187 authors. This is a book which the reader will want to approach at their own pace and which invites readers to reflect on concepts.  Under the entry, for example, of Víctima we find: “Some people prefer to avoid a concept which has not managed to avoid stigmatization, which reduces subjects to pain and suffering (…) Others defend the use of this term as a form of resistance and support its use as an engine of political action and of recognition of groups of people who have lived in oppressive situations.  Under Subtierro: “funeral space of those people defeated in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), especially those civilians executed in operations carried out behind the lines and thrown into mass graves (…) these mass graves sent an exemplary  signal warning of the potential destiny of dissidents and prevented mourning by family members or political supporters”.
  • El duelo revelado: la vida social de las fotografías familiares de las víctimas del franquismo – Jorge Moreno Andrés, a film-maker with a doctorate in anthropology, examines the universe of family pain through photographs of victims of forced disappearance during the  Civil War and under the Franco Regime and (re)constructs their histories. Who keeps photographs of the victims of repression? Where? How? What value do these photos have and how is this transmitted? The value of this work lies in explaining from a new perspective the reality of the silence imposed on the families of the defeated. For a summary by the author himself follow this link


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 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 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.

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, 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 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:


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.



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. 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

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.

Digital Journalism from the Archives

On Thursday 25 May we continued with our work with the archives. As users of new technology and digital platforms to widen access to historical documents, we attended a day-long workshop Els arxius històrics en l’entorn digital (Historical Archives in the Digital Age) which is being organised to celebrate the centenary of the Arxiu Histórico de Barcelona.

We participated in a session on the representation and visualization of data drawn from historical sources.

In addition to presenting our project of developing a centralised database listing the victims of the Spanish Civil War, on which we are currently working, we will be discussing Eight Hundred Days Under Bombardment, our project originally produced for Barcelona Televisió. This includes an audio-visual summary of the bombardment of Barcelona in 1937-1938 as well as an interactive map of air-raid shelters and of sites where bombs fell.

Captura de pantalla 2017-05-16 a la(s) 22.45.36

Following changes at Barcelona Televisió this is currently only available in an Italian version. Perhaps because, as they say in Spanish ‘nobody is a prophet in their own country,’ Eight Hundred Days Under Bombardment can therefore be viewed on the website of the exhibition Catalogna Bombardata, which has been shown in nearly 70 cities and towns in Italy, but not in its original Catalan version.

Here is the programme of the day:

The Forgotten Prison (Forgotten until when?)

During the research on the Spanish Civil War which Innovation and Human Rights has been carrying out for the last few months we have found interesting sources which we plan to share here. One of them is the major online work on Las Corts Prison (La Prisón de las Corts). This women’s prison which stood in Avenida Diagonal is marked only by a sad plaque on the facade of Diagonal branch El Corte Inglés.

Among the many women imprisoned here in the period after the Civil War was Tomasa Cuevas (1917-2007), author of several books on the experiences of women prisoners and on the anti-Franco resistance, who was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi by the Catalan government in 2004. At the moment the city of Barcelona has placed a plaque to her in a Civic Centre in the neighbourhood of Las Corts. If you follow the links below you can read

a summary of her life,

as well as her own testimony and

her obituary

These will enable you to draw your own conclusions as to whether you think the city should speed up the long-delayed process of providing a permanent monument as a more fitting tribute to her as demanded by ACME (Associació per la Cultura i la Memòria) and other organisations.