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Activists face massive fines for protesting against Spain's 'gag law'

Activists face massive fines for protesting against Spain's 'gag law'

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Maja Kozłowska,
22.02.2024 13:30

The Spanish branch of Extinction Rebellion organised a protest defending freedom of expression and action, presenting alarming data.

Activism can take many forms, and the Extinction Rebellion group is one of the most radical. However, there are plenty of similar organisations around the world, such as Just Stop Oil, Letzte Generation, and Riposte Alimentaire, all known for their controversial actions. These groups have staged protests in various ways, such as blocking airport runways, paralysing traffic, dropping fluorescent paint into rivers, or splashing liquid on a centuries-old painting. The activists aim to draw attention to issues such as access to food, excessive CO2 emissions, or microplastics in the oceans.

Unfortunately, their extreme tactics often cause people to miss the point of their message. The media focus on the effects of the protests, such as destroyed artwork or hours-long traffic jams, rather than the underlying issues. This communication style is not appealing to those uninvolved in activism and can even be seen as outrageous.

Extinction Rebellion activists fed up with "gag laws"

The laws governing public assemblies in Spain are much stricter than those in Poland. Many citizens refer to them as a "gag law" because they believe it is a way for the government to silence dissenting opinions and restrict freedom of expression. This law curtails fundamental rights and opens up the possibility for abuse of power.

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In Spain, there are frequent protests against the Public Security Act, with citizens making compelling arguments, such as the fact that peaceful demonstrations are guaranteed freedom under European human rights standards. They argue that the state should legitimise peaceful assemblies instead of imposing fines and that gag laws can be abused and lead to police brutality, thereby limiting free speech.

Recently, activists from Extinction Rebellion joined forces with other groups in Madrid to resist this unjust law. They remained silent with their mouths taped shut and conveyed their message through banners displaying alarming statistics.

Fighting to defend our rights is not a crime. Yesterday, we gathered with many other movements in Madrid to demand the abolition of the "gag law"

- reports the Spanish branch of Extinction Rebellion.

The group has admitted in an Instagram message that its activists were fined €14,000 for protesting alongside members of environmental organisations Salvemos el Parque de la Cornisa and Salvemos La Arboleda.

They also shared more information regarding the fines, mentioning an additional €3,000 in fines and a total of 26 years of imprisonment for members of Rebelión Científica, a scientific association fighting against political inaction in the face of the climate and environmental crisis.

The activists believe that "protest is not a crime" and encourage people to join the movement against the Spanish regime.

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