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GRAPO Prisoners Tortured

All too often we hear about the physical mistreatment and abuse of prisoners, political and social. The impression we are given by the mainstream media and the governments of the western industrialized countries is that such abuses only occur in places like the Middle East, South America, etc., and that such things are unheard of in the western countries that call themselves "democracies." As readers of PLN know, physical abuse and mistreatment at one level or another is the norm in the US.

The level of mistreatment and abuse of prisoners and social activists proportionally increases depending on the strength of the movements that are confronting or challenging the established political and economic order. The bigger the challenge the harsher the methods that will be used to crush it.

Spain has been a nominal "democracy" since 1975 when fascist dictator and loyal US ally, Francisco Franco, died. Spain has a large and active communist and anarchist left and labor movement. It also has several nationalities struggling for independence from the central government. The result of these struggles is that Spain has over 700 political prisoners (PPs). The majority, over 600, are affiliated with the Basque independence struggle. The next largest group, about 55 PPs, are members of the PCE(r) (Communist Party of Spain, reconstituted) and GRAPO (Anti Fascist Resistance Groups, First of October). The remainder are anarchists, labor activists and nationalists from the other liberation struggles being waged against the Spanish state.

Like all capitalist countries, the treatment of PPs in Spain ranges from bad to barbaric. Over the years PLN has briefly reported on the struggle for better conditions in the Spanish gulag. The last several months have seen a general crackdown on leftist and nationalist activists and groups. This includes the arrest of three members of AFAPP, an organization that supports the human rights of political prisoners in Spain. The family members arrested were accused of being members of the PCE(r). The "evidence" against them consists of address books and copies of the PCE(r)'s clandestine magazine.

After a shootout between Spanish police and a GRAPO commando in which some members of the commando escaped, Spanish police arrested Elvira Dieguez and Laureano Ortega. They were accused of "membership in an armed band." Dieguez had been released from prison in 1989 after serving 12 years for GRAPO activities. At her court appearance Dieguez showed obvious signs of torture and described the torture she had undergone at the hands of the Spanish police.

She states she was hooded with a plastic bag and blindfolded throughout her ordeal. Her clothes were forcibly ripped off her body and she was beaten. Her ordeal lasted for roughly five days and she was tortured in the city of Santander and Madrid. In Madrid, naked and in cold cells, she was beaten some more, her body wet down and she was shocked with cattleprods, the soles of her feet were beaten and she was raped with a broomstick. Throughout the experience she was being insulted and screamed at by Spanish police officials.

At his court appearance Ortega described a similar experience except he was not raped. Their lawyer vigorously denounced the torture and called a police doctor as a witness. The doctor testified that the prisoners injuries were consistent with their testimony of being tortured.

Despite the torture neither Dieguez nor Ortega made any incriminating statements and both were freed by the Spanish court that handles political cases for a lack of evidence. The judge said he would give further consideration as to what he would do about the prisoners being tortured. If past experience is any guide, nothing will be done. Torture of political dissidents in Spain, England, France, Turkey and other NATO countries is well documented. Some countries, including Spain and England, operate military and paramilitary death squads that routinely kill political dissidents. Yet again, nothing is done.

The most startling thing about these events is the deafening silence from the so-called human rights community. Where are the denunciations of the Spanish government for their arrest and torture of political dissidents? Some groups like Amnesty International claim to oppose the torture of all prisoners, regardless of political views, yet when communists are being raped and tortured in "democracies" nothing is said.

Whenever capitalist governments are challenged by groups and parties that question the status quo and seek meaningful political, economic and social change, they are ruthlessly crushed. The stronger the challenge the more brutal the means. That is a constant. The hypocrisy of the western governments who claim to support human rights needs to be continuously exposed for the sham it is.

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