Spain’s forceful crackdown on critics: it’s not new


Spain's forceful crackdown on critics: it's not new

Punch and Judy puppets. Credit: Sid Williams / Flickr

Thousands of protesters spilt onto the streets of Barcelona, Spain, yesterday as news of the prison sentences for Catalonia’s separatist leaders spread.

But for those who have been watching Spain’s responses to those who critic or protest against the government over the past few years, the harsh prison sentences will have been less of a surprise.

Strange things have been happening in Spain and few outsiders have been taking notice.

There was the case of the Spanish comedian Dani Mateo who described a monument to former dictator General Francisco Franco as “shit” on a satirical television show and then was accused of “hurting religious feelings” and called before a judge to explain.

Then there were the two puppeteers who were charged after one of the puppets in their Punch and Judy show carried a sign for a made-up terrorist group. The puppeteers were unable to leave the country for weeks, receiving anonymous threats and having to report regularly to the police.

There’s Facu Díaz, who was prosecuted for posting jokes on social media; Cassandra Vera, who was sentenced to a year in prison for making jokes about a former Spanish president; and three women who were accused of a religious hate crime for mocking a traditional Easter procession.

Many of these charges relate to the citizen security law, passed in 2015, which allows the prosecution of journalists for reporting police interventions. Here we have an attack on the right of the public to know what is happening in their own country. That law was passed in parliament with the votes of the conservative Partido Popular, but with no support from other parties.

The 2015 reforms created a range of terrorism offences, but have also been used in the way of security laws throughout the ages to prosecute people that the government didn’t want to speak.

In a piece published in Index on Censorship magazine, Virginia Álvarez of Amnesty International said: “This is not preventing terrorism crimes but allowing the state to act against humorous comments,” she said. “Governments are using the insecurity caused by terrorism to curb freedoms and deactivate social movements.”

For more on how Spain has been cracking down on protest, also read No laughing matter by Silvia Nortes for Index.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1571135437802-698a9fdb-98b9-9″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Contents: The big squeeze

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The spring issue of Index on Censorship magazine looks at how pressures on free speech are currently coming from many different angles, not just one. Richard Sambrook, former director of global news at the BBC, shows how journalists are in a bind, caught between what advertisers want and what readers want. Also looking at journalists, Duncan Tucker casts his eye on the grave situation in Mexico, where getting to the truth involves working against the government, violent cartels and even coworkers.

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Meanwhile, in the Maldives Zaheena Rasheed shows how a mix of forces conspire against those who want to write anything beyond the usual tourist sale pitch.

But the squeezes on free expression don’t just concern journalists. Annemarie Luck reports from Japan, where penis festivals are popular, but women struggle to discuss their own bodies. Can they find a voice through art and manga? For musician Smockey from Burkina Faso, art should indeed be a way to confront truth and yet that’s not always the case. Expectations run high for him to not be “too political” in his lyrics.

Universities, normally the cradle of free expression, aren’t faring too well either, as two articles show. Jan Fox reports from the USA, where bias response teams are becoming a staple of US collegiate life. In South Africa Fees Must Fall has created a divide between right and left, writes Natasha Joseph, with neither side talking to each other and those in the middle being silenced altogether.

Outside of our special report, Roger Law, creator of the iconic TV satire Spitting Image, talks about the great fun he had with the series back in the day and questions whether the show would be able to air today. Alfonso Lázaro de la Fuente might say no. He was one of the Spanish puppeteers arrested last year for a show that referenced Basque-separatist organisation ETA. In an Index exclusive, he explains what the charges have meant for his personal and professional life.

Want to know how to spot fake news? Then read Reel-time news in which Index’s team of experienced global reporters offer tips on how to spot fake news from a mile/screen away. And don’t miss Martin Rowson‘s fake o’clock news, a hilarious – and sinister – take on what a future of alternative facts would look like.

Index also publish an interview with Turkish journalist Canan Coşkun, whose coworkers are currently in jail, and a pair of writers discuss the situation of free speech in Poland, which is tumbling down global charts following the election of the Law and Justice party. And in the UK, former attorney general Dominic Grieve reveals that MPs are avoiding hard talk in parliament.

Finally, the culture section includes a short story from award-winning French writer Karim Miské and original work from Vyacheslav Huk, a Crimean novelist who is unable to publish work in his mother tongue.

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The Big Squeeze: Freedom of speech under pressure

Fact-filled future? by Rachael Jolley: Journalists need to step up, and produce more detailed news coverage. The public needs it

Between a rock and a hard place, by Duncan Tucker: Mexico’s journalists face threats from cartels, the government and each other

Reality rapped, by Smockey: An award-winning musician from Burkina Faso explains why he won’t water down his lyrics to avoid rocking the boat, despite pressure to do so

Talking a tightrope, by
 Kaya Genç: Despite the crackdown in Turkey, the post-Gezi spirit still survives among the determined

Taking the bait, by Richard Sambrook: The quest for instant gratification online is seriously compromising news reporting 

Dangerous minds, by Natasha Joseph: Rather than creating an alliance, Fees Must Fall is limiting free speech at South Africa’s universities, leaving some early supporters disheartened 

Japan’s Madonna complex, by Annemarie Luck: Japan’s contradictory attitudes include highly sexualised images of women and women not being allowed to talk about sex-related subjects

Squeezed in the closet, by Hannah Leung: Get married and be quiet are the messages China’s LGBT community is given 

Degrees of separation, by Jan Fox: The author investigates units appearing on US campuses suggesting students should report lecturers who they feel are biased

Dying to tell a story, by Sadaf Saaz: The list of what Bangladesh writers cannot talk about is getting longer, but that isn’t stopping some from writing

Trouble in paradise, by Zaheena Rasheed: Behind the image of palm-lined beaches is a side of the Maldives the government doesn’t want you to see

Your cover is shown, by Mark Frary: Tech giants and governments are out to get your data. Soon it might be impossible to remain anonymous 

Stripsearch cartoon, by Martin Rowson: Tune in to the fake o’clock news

Composing battle lines, by Steven Borowiec: Why have South Korean pop stars found themselves caught in crossfire between their country and China?

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We have no time for fear, by Canan Coşkun: A Turkish journalist on the perils of reporting in her country when fellow reporters are imprisoned 

Reel-time news, by Natasha Joseph, Kaya Genç, Jemimah Steinfeld, Duncan Tucker, Abraham T Zere, Raymond Joseph: As “fake news” dominates headlines, Index’s global team of experienced journalists offers tips on how to spot falsehoods before you click and share

Singing from the same hymn sheet, by Suhrith Parthasarathy: Rising Indian nationalism is creating a repressive state where non-conformity is deemed unpatriotic  

Poland: Special Focus, by Wojciech Przybylski, Marcin Król: Poland has gone from free speech hero to villain almost overnight. Two writers discuss the shift and why history is being rewritten 

Shooting from the hip, by Irene Caselli: A new mayor in a Mexican border city believes he will make it less dangerous for journalists  

Silence in the house, by Dominic Grieve: The former UK attorney general says MPs are shying away from tough topics in parliament

Puppet masters, by Roger Law: The creator of iconic TV satire Spitting Image on whether we still have our sense of humour

Drawing the line, by John Power: Australia is debating free speech, one cartoon at a time. Cartoonist Bill Leak interviewed just before he died

Puppet state, by Alfonso Lázaro de la Fuente: A Spanish puppeteer, arrested after terrorism charges related to a show, discusses the impact on his life

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Novel take on terror, by
 Karim Miské: The award-winning crime writer on why fiction and reality overlap. Plus his short story featuring a future where tech rules supreme. Interview by Sally Gimson

The war of the words, by Amira Hanafi: Translated extracts from an American-Egyptian writer’s project to capture the shifting linguistic landscape in Egypt since 2011. Interview by Sally Gimson

Crimean closedown, by Vyacheslav Huk: The Crimean novelist on being unable to publish in his mother tongue and a story of the narrator’s memories. Introduced and translated by Steve Komarnyckyj

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Index around the world, by
 Kieran Etoria-King: What to look out for at Index’s Freedom of Expression Awards 2017, alongside news of other projects that Index has been working on in the last few months 

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”END NOTE” css=”.vc_custom_1481880278935{margin-right: 0px !important;margin-left: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 1px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;border-bottom-color: #455560 !important;border-bottom-style: solid !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Getting print out, by Jemimah Steinfeld: Self-publishing may be a new solution to censorship in China and other countries 

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”SUBSCRIBE” css=”.vc_custom_1481736449684{margin-right: 0px !important;margin-left: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 1px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;border-bottom-color: #455560 !important;border-bottom-style: solid !important;}”][vc_column_text]Index on Censorship magazine was started in 1972 and remains the only global magazine dedicated to free expression. Past contributors include Samuel Beckett, Gabriel García Marquéz, Nadine Gordimer, Arthur Miller, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, and many more.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”76572″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]In print or online. Order a print edition here or take out a digital subscription via Exact Editions.

Copies are also available at the BFI, the Serpentine Gallery, MagCulture, (London), News from Nowhere (Liverpool), Home (Manchester), Calton Books (Glasgow) and on Amazon. Each magazine sale helps Index on Censorship continue its fight for free expression worldwide.

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Africa's puppet governments

This is a guest post by Jenni Hulse

xyz show

In Africa, where media repression is widespread and state-controlled broadcasters the norm, the success of a familiar form of televised political satire offers new hope for freedom of speech. South Africa’s ZA News and Kenya’s The XYZ Show are recognisable descendents of the UK’s Spitting Image and France’s Les Guignols, using latex puppets to ridicule major politicians and celebrities. Like their European predecessors, both shows are huge hits in their native countries, controversial in their content and provoke mixed reactions from the politicians they lampoon.

It is no coincidence that The XYZ Show and ZA News were both masterminded by political cartoonists. Print media in Kenya and South Africa enjoy relatively high levels of freedom and satirical cartoons, published in major dailies, are an important and popular form of political criticism.