Target: Ms. Ana Botella, Mayor of Madrid
Goal: Condemn civil liberties abuses in Spain
The March for Dignity protest in Madrid Spain was a meant to be a peaceful one. Hundreds of people flooded the city streets to protest a variety of government policies including austerity measures, restriction of abortion rights, and corruption. Unfortunately, isolated episodes of violence did occur, causing minor injuries and 29 arrests. However, the response from the Madrid municipal government has been outsized, and if proposed new regulations were passed, would pose a threat to the citizens of Madrid and their right to peacefully assemble. Call on mayor Ana Botella to dial back the reactionary measures and to preserve the rights of those living in Madrid.
The Spanish Constitution ensures the right of citizens to peacefully assemble and includes strict protections of those rights. Although the right to protest cannot be completely unchecked, in order to ensure security and order, limitations on this right must be carefully monitored. According to Human Rights Watch, international law places a high bar on what can be grounds for punishment during a public demonstration. Peaceful protests must be kept legitimate, despite any frustration or offense they may cause. The Spanish Constitutional Court has also stated in previous rulings that “in a democratic society, the urban space is not only an area for circulation, but also for participation.”
While there were isolated incidents of violence during this protest, it is unacceptable to block off the city to future protests without due consideration. Police should absolutely respond to any violations of the law during protests. However, the violence of a few is no excuse to limit the rights of citizens in the future. Call on Madrid mayor Ana Botella to respect these rights and revise any policies that would violate these rights.
Dear Mayor Ana Botella,
Any public protest carries with it a small degree of risk and disruption. The events that transpired after the March for Dignity in Madrid were regrettable and the instigators should be punished. However, there is no justification for the denial of civil liberties for all citizens based on the actions of a few.
I am writing today to urge you to dial back the reactionary measures your municipal government has taken to make most communal parts of the city off limits to protestors. I am asking that you uphold the right to peaceful protest ensured by the constitution of Spain and upheld by the Spanish Constitutional Court.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Fotograccion via wikimedia commons