Manifesto against the criminalization of the PAH (Platform of People Affected by Mortgages)

The Defense Commission of the Barcelona Bar Association and the Human Rights Commission of the Girona Bar Association, along with the Observatorio de Derechos Económicos Sociales y Culturales de Barcelona (Barcelona Observatory for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, DESC), Justicia y Paz (Justice and Peace), the Federación de Asociaciones de Vecinos de Barcelona (Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Barcelona, FAVB), the Observatorio de los Sistemas Penales de la Universidad de Barcelona (Observatory on the Penal System at the University of Barcelona), the Instituto de Derechos Humanos de Cataluña (Catalonian Institute of Human Rights), and the Asociación catalana de defense de los derechos humanos (Catalonian Association of Human Rights Defense, ACDDH) have been informed through media reports that the Spanish government Delegate in Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, has linked the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages (PAH) and its spokesperson, Ada Colau, with “pro-ETA groups” (armed Basque separatist groups).

These remarks have been made in a context in which some members of this citizens’ platform have been subject to slander, humiliation, insults and even death threats that clearly surpass the right to criticize and to freedom of speech as recognized in Article 20 of the Constitution, in particular regarding cases like this which are widely published by certain media outlets or through social networks.

The above-mentioned entities consider that these actions constitute an infringement on the affected people’s right to honor and to maintain a good reputation, as recognized in Article 18.1 of the Constitution. In addition, these actions represent a manifestation of contempt and discredit which are absolutely contrary to the Spanish legal order, and they aim to impede citizens from exercising their legitimate right to protest free from duress.

The above-mentioned entities also understand that the act of affiliating human rights activists and people affected by mortgages with terrorists groups is used to disqualify their actions and represents a frivolous and dangerous attitude. Firstly, this position trivializes a phenomenon that has caused great suffering in society as a whole and especially among its direct victims. Secondly, it is being used against people that have clearly rejected ETA positions and that have given public proof of their pacifism and non-violent behavior. Finally, this position negates the dramatic situation of thousands of families who have been evicted or are threatened with imminent eviction, victims of abuses already condemned by the European Courts that have yet to receive any concrete response from public institutions in Spain.
Given this situation, the above-mentioned entities consider that it is absolutely necessary to immediately stop the indiscriminate attacks against the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages (PAH) and its spokesperson, Ada Colau. If they fail to do so, the authorities will be accepting a very dangerous path that, in a time of crisis and serious economic adjustments, represents the preventable and unacceptable criminalization of civil protest and the denaturalization of fundamental rights in a democratic society.

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Organizations that have signed the Manifesto:

ATTAC: Spain, Castile and León, and Mallorca
CCOO Catalunya
CJV (Consell de la Joventut de València)
CCB- Espinardo (Comunidad Cristiana de Base de Espinardo- Murcia)
Comité Pro-Huelga Palmillera para el 15 de Mayo
Comunidades Cristianas de Base de la Región de Murcia
CONFAVB (Confederació d’Associacions Veïnals de Barcelona)
Constitucionalistas por la democracia (Asociación de Profesores de Derecho Constitucional)
Cordada (associació Ecologista i Excursionista)
Ecologistes en Acció
FAVB (federación de Asociaciones de Vecinos de Barcelona)
Federació Catalana d’ONG per la Pau, els Drets Humans i el Desenvolupament
Frente Cívico Somos Mayoría Estatal
Fundació Nous Horitzons 
Genera (Associació de defensa dels drets de les dones)
HIC (Habitat International Coalition)
Intersindical Illes Balears
JARIT – Associació Civil
Oficina Prekaria de Er Banco Güeno
Punt de trobada d’afectats per la crisi (St Andreu, Barcelona)
SICOM (Solidaritat i Comunicació)
UGT Catalanya
XES (Xarxa d’Economia Solidària)
AITEC – Association Internationale des Techniciens Experts et Chercheurs, France
IPAM – Initiative Pour un Autre Monde, France