Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spain's Kaosenlared.net Under Attack

by Kristin Bricker

[Scroll down for English text of sign-on letter.]

Barcelona City Council member Assumpta Escarp has publicly threatened to begin legal action to close Spanish websites that she believes are "justifying violence," a crime under Spanish law. One of the sites she specifically mentions is Kaos en la Red, a website where I publish my articles in Spanish.

Escarp's statements come in the midst of a Spanish media campaign against Kaos en la Red. One recent television "news" report links Kaos en la Red to riots and "urban guerrilla warfare." The news report argued that Kaos en la Red and other websites help Europe's "anarchist triangle" (Spain, Italy, and Greece) coordinate and organize protests.

Kaos en la Red (kaosenlared.net) is an open-publishing independent media website that is managed by an editorial collective. Articles are filtered through three layers (main page, region/topic page, and open publishing newswire) based on popularity and content. Kaos en la Red argues that, like YouTube, it is an intermediary that allows users to publish content to the web. A Spanish court recently ruled that as an intermediary, YouTube is not legally required to vet and censor material before it is published. Both YouTube and Kaos en la Red remove content that users flag as potentially illegal.

Kaos en la Red is a vital source of information for Spanish speakers all over the world. Users publish news from Spain in both castellano (commonly known outside of Spain as "Spanish") and Catalan (another Spanish language). Kaos en la Red also carries news from the Basque Country in both Spanish languages and Euskara, the language spoken in Basque Country. Kaos en la Red is an important tool for Basques and Basque supporters to denounce the Spanish government's persistent human rights violations and use of torture in Basque Country, one of the many reasons the website is a particularly uncomfortable media outlet for the Spanish government.

Readers all over Latin America, particularly those in México, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Venezuela, turn to Kaos en la Red as one of their primary sources of news and analysis about issues that affect them and their fellow anti-capitalists. That is why I publish my Spanish articles in Kaos: when I ask Mexican activists where they get their news, they always mention Kaos en la Red.

Kaos en la Red is not a threat to the Spanish State because it is an "apologist for violence." Kaos en la Red is a threat because it is an important source of information for anti-capitalists all over the world. And it is precisely for this reason that we must defend it.

I, along with hundreds of other journalists, academics, workers, activists, and organizations, signed the letter below in support of Kaos en la Red, and I urge you to do the same. The letter will be presented at a press conference in Barcelona on October 14.


We are all kaosenlared! No to the criminalization of freedom of expression and opinion

Faced with the constant criminalization of communications media and alternative social movements, and following the Barcelona City Council's petition requesting that the public prosecutor's office evaluate the possibility of opening up a criminal investigation against Kaosenlared.net and other alternative media with the goal of investigating said websites' alleged justifications for violence, we the undersigned wish to express the following:

1. Kaosenlared.net has always maintained a strict posture without inciting any violence in its reporting of information, which has turned it into a communications media that is vital for the dissemination of information published by different authors through its Open Publishing system, as well as by members of its team of collaborators (well-known people from a range of leftist schools of thought from all over the world). This makes Kaosenlared.net an alternative, plural, free, and truthful communications media that never, under any circumstances, protects or promotes any form of violence.

2. In the era of information, Internet, informative globalization, and the proliferation of the so-called fourth generation war--the media war--, the dominant classes are once again trying to criminalize the popular classes' alternative information.

3. We believe that this action is part of a bigger campaign whose ultimate goal is to criminalize social movements--the social movements to whom alternative media gives a voice and a space which is denied to them by the norms of the communications media that are controlled by the lords of the world: capital and the bourgeoisie.

4. The silencing of alternative opinions and of the people who struggle for a better world is evident; one only needs to analyze how those media outlets report any alternative position. Or even how social movements' communiques aren't even published in those media outlets.

5. The communications media that are at the service of the popular and working classes demand peace. Peace which is indivisibly linked to social justice. The people's objectives have absolutely nothing to do with the monstrous pantomimes that we live every day, sustained over a socio-economic structure of submission and modern-day slavery.

6. The leftist anti-capitalist struggle, submerged in labor and social precarity and police and judicial harrassment, needs means of communication against hegemonic power. It is a fundamental part of our right to freedom of expression and organization. A democratic and human right which no civilized person can deny.

7. If Kaosenlared.net and other alternative media were closed, this would violate all Spanish and international law regarding freedom of expression. This legislation holds the articles' authors responsible for imputable acts, not the media that serves as a simple transmission mechanism. There is absolutely no basis for judicial action against the alternative media. "Justifying violence" is only a crime under Spanish Penal Code if it is done for racist, anti-semitic, or ideological reasons (Article 510 of the Penal Code). Kaosenlared.net is exemplary in the defense of minority rights and respect for all democratic ideologies.

8. We express our solidarity and support for Kaosenlared.net and the rest of the alternative media that have been singled out over the past few days, as well as our profound unease over this new attack on freedom of expression.

9. We, the people who work in, write in, and read kaosenlared are against the criminalization of alternative communications media and social movements.

10. Our struggle lies in the battle of ideas and for professional and alternative information. We know no weapon other than the word, reasoned arguments, and critical thinking. We are peaceful people.

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To sign on to this manifesto in support of Kaosenlared and freedom of expression and opinion, send your name, country, and profession to manifiestokaos@gmail.com.


We gratefully request that all of the compañeros and compañeras, readers, and users of Kaosenlared disseminate this manifesto.

Signed:

[To see the full and updated list of signers, please see the Spanish version of the manifesto in Kaosenlared]
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