By A.C. Originally published in Spanish on Feb. 27, 2015. Translated to English by Greg Butterfield and published on his blog ‘Red Star Over Donbass’ on March 3. See further below an interview with one of the Spanish anti-fascist volunteers arrested in the early hours of Feb. 27, 2015.
Madrid, February 27, 2015–Less than 24 hours after the Spanish National Police detained eight Spaniards for their involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine [news reports of that here], the Madrid Committee to Support Antifascists in Ukraine confirmed it is sending a new internationalist brigade to the Donbass. It has posted a video on YouTube calling for participation, either physically or through collaboration.
The activists will form part of the second Antifascist Caravan of the Italian ska-punk band Banda Bassotti, as they did on the first one, which was in Ukrainian lands last September. They will travel to the Donbass for humanitarian work in May.
The goal, organizers explained, is “to bring our solidarity to the people of Donbass who heroically resist the fascist onslaught” and deliver basic necessities, but also to denounce “media manipulation” and the role of the U.S. and NATO in the political conflict.
The caravan, which is scheduled to arrive on May 9 — a symbolic date which coincides with the 70th anniversary of Victory Day over Nazi Germany – has at least a dozen volunteers from the Spanish state comprising the “Rubén Ruiz Ibárruri Brigade,” in homage to the Spanish partisan, son of “La Pasionaria.”
Some of them also traveled to eastern Ukraine during last summer, including Ramiro who, in an interview with DISOpress on his return, recounted his experience in Lugansk and described the situation in Ukraine as “an authentic medieval warfare.”
Eight arrested for fighting in Ukraine, accused of murder, sedition and attacking the interests of Spain
The detainees are eight citizens from Asturias, Catalonia, Extremadura, Madrid, Murcia and Navarre who allegedly fought with the Donbass people’s militias and are now accused of murder, possession of weapons and explosives, and attacking Spain’s interests abroad, among other charges.
Although many details of the case are still unknown, it appears that the first of the offenses could be based on their collaboration with groups that have participated in combat, while the second would be based on pictures and videos posted by defendants on their own social networks showing them armed.
It is, in any case, difficult behavior to try as a crime under Spanish law that, in principle, does not provide civil or criminal punishment for voluntary participation in a foreign war. Proof of this is the recruitment of Spaniards by private security companies operating in conflict zones and using heavy weaponry, a common practice in Spain and widely known by the government.
Neither is it clear that it can be considered a criminal offense for the Spanish volunteers to have participated in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of so-called “pro-Russian separatists,” because none of the militias on this side are considered terrorist organizations by the United Nations.
‘Solidarity is not a crime’
“Solidarity is not a crime.” These words closed the press conference held by the Madrid Support Committee for Antifascists in Ukraine this afternoon to show their support and solidarity with the eight detained volunteers and demand their immediate release without charge.
“Contrary to the lies and accusations by some media,” the Support Committee for Antifascists in Ukraine “is not, nor is it intended to be, any sort of recruiting office,” said their statement, which also defended the actions of the Committee and the brigades which, they say, “are based on solidarity” and “seek to provide humanitarian aid.”
The Committee also used the event to denounce “the hypocrisy of the media,” to whom “the genocide of civilians in eastern Ukraine does not seem relevant,” and the “cynicism” of the Spanish government to “speak of neutrality, while directly and publicly working with the illegal Ukrainian government.”
The eight arrested yesterday morning were released with charges in late afternoon.
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Call by the Madrid Committee to Support Antifascists in Ukraine for participation in the second antifascist solidarity caravan to Donbas:
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Interview with arrested Spanish volunteer: ‘The terrorists are governments that arm Ukrainian Nazi battalions’
Interview by Ibai Trebiño for Argia. Originally published in Basque language on March 2, 2015. Translated from Spanish to English by Greg Butterfield and published on his blog ‘Red Star Over Donbass’.
Eight youths were arrested and accused of terrorism in a police operation ordered by Judge Santiago Pedraz, which took place Friday [Feb. 27, 2015] in the provinces of Asturias, Catalonia, Extremadura, Madrid, Murcia and Navarra. They were released the same day. One of them is Madrid’s Sergio Becerra. We spoke with him by phone to learn the circumstances in which the operation occurred.
How were you arrested?
I was arrested at home on Friday morning, around 6:30. Hooded and armed policemen came into my home and arrested me at gunpoint. I was told that I had been arrested for “fighting for the terrorists.” I was surprised. In Madrid it is unusual to see hooded police.
They took me to the police station and afterward they searched my home, took my phone and other things. We went back to the police station and in the afternoon they let me go, but facing charges. So far they have not taken special measures against any of the detainees.
How was the treatment at the police station?
We were held incommunicado. Although we were not allowed to talk to our relatives, the treatment was okay.
What are you accused of specifically?
Possession of weapons and explosives, murder, participating in an armed conflict “against the interests of the Kingdom of Spain,” violating the neutrality of Spain, and terrorism. All the charges are false.
You are accused as terrorists because you have been in the Donbass war.
We are not terrorists. We went to Donbass to defend the civilian population and are proud of it. The governments arming and supporting Ukrainian Nazis, like Spain, are the terrorists. Those who came into our homes and took us at gunpoint are terrorists. They say that we have violated the neutrality of Spain. It is stunning. They have violated neutrality by supporting NATO and financing the Ukrainian Nazi battalions.
Among the images of the arrests, I was surprised to see a gun. Do you have weapons at home?
I have not seen the TV, but you’ve left me surprised. I have no gun at home and don’t think the others had them. We did not bring any weapons from Donbass. A friend told me that the attitude of the Spanish media has been very sad. In my case, the newspaper El Pais published [information about] my workplace. We did not deserve that, our privacy has not been respected.
Do you think this operation aims to criminalize internationalist unity?
No doubt, but we will continue our internationalist work. The people of Donbass need our help now more than ever.
Internationalist volunteers in Novorossiya say: Free the Spanish 8!, Feb. 27, 2015
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