VILADECANS is just a few miles from Barcelona’s airport but a million miles from the Ramblas in the city centre or a beach resort like Sitges, where many of those arriving will travel. Many of its over-whelmingly working-class residents work at the airport or in the factories, warehouses and shopping centres which surround the town, or commute into Barcelona.

Its past is as radical as its present. When Catalonia rose up against General Franco’s military coup to topple the Spanish Republic, the labourers belonging to the anarcho-syndicalist trade union federation the CNT took over control of the land, collectivising it. Sixty of them then volunteered to join the militias heading off to fight fascism.

I travelled there to meet Tamara Carrasco and to hear about her treatment by the Spanish legal system. What she told me was like something from a Dostoevsky novel.

Tamara is an activist involved in the struggle against cuts to healthcare, and had been involved in the local branch of the Podemos party, for whom she stood in the 2015 elections on a local list. Then she was part of the peaceful defence of polling stations during the October 1 referendum on Catalan independence as Spanish police attacked polling stations and voters.

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After Spain scrapped Catalan autonomy, suspending its parliament and government, after the referendum, Tamara was part of a local group, broadly affiliated to the Committees to Defend the Republic (CDR) which carried out non-violent direct action in protest, blocking highways and occupying the local train station and blocking the tracks. In the latter case she says, “people taking part had their lunch there, we did no damage and when we ended the protest, trains resumed normally”.

However, on April 10 last year, 75 members of the Spanish paramilitary Guardia Civil, armed with assault rifles and accompanied by the media, arrived outside her home.

“There were snipers on the roofs, the Catalan police blocked the traffic and then 20 Guardia entered my house. They were there for four hours,” she says.

Among the things they took were a mask of Jordi Cuixart’s face – he is the jailed president of Omnium, the major Catalan cultural association – a broken computer, her mobile phone, a yellow whistle, badges, books, letters from Omnium and a map showing metro stations where people could join protests.

They then took Tamara to Madrid, amid much media coverage, where she was held in solitary confinement for three days. She recalls: “It was so frightening I couldn’t eat.”

The seized items were held to be evidence that Tamara was plotting violence and the Guardia revealed they had found “certain information” concerning their barracks in Barcelona, suggesting to them that she was plotting a terror attack. This turned out to be a Google Maps screenshot of the barracks’ location that she had taken on her way to a protest outside it.

The National:

Tamara Carrasco was part of the peaceful defence of polling stations during the October 1 referendum on Catalan independence

The state prosecutor leaked all sorts of incriminating details, claiming she was a “co-ordinator” of the CDR “sabotage actions”. An audio file was released in which she allegedly discussed disrupting Barcelona airport, freight trains and fibre optic cables. Tamara says the CDR is a decentralised organisation, with local groups taking their own collective decisions and the idea she is some puppeteer pulling the strings is a fantasy.

On the fourth day she was brought before the Audiencia Nacional, the Spanish National Court in Madrid. In 1977 the old Francoist Public Order Tribunal, the special political court created to deal with dissidents, was abolished but the Audiencia Nacional was created the same day with the same remit and the same judges. Yet the court threw out charges of terrorism brought by the Spanish State Prosecutor but upheld those of “public disorder”. Then the financial police intervened, saying she was a very dangerous person and that they would be pressing charges.

The court then ruled that Tamara could only be given “conditional freedom” and could not leave Viladecans except to travel to and from her work in Barcelona. Effectively house arrest. The financial police continue to insist that as long as the CDR carry out protests Tamara most remain under confinement Consequently Tamara reports: “I am having a terrible time. The police are watching me all the time. I’m followed if I go out for a beer or for dinner. My phone is tapped. Because of the stress I had to take medical leave from work.”

The finance police had been to her work claiming they were looking for evidence. Photos of her, meanwhile, appeared on the internet and her CV was published there. Spanish TV stations came to Viladecans looking for older people, migrants from Southern Spain who only spoke Spanish, to ask them about Tamara and her support for Catalan independence, looking for a negative response.

Interestingly, Viladecans is a town of migrants from Andalucia and Murcia in Southern Spain and more recently from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Tamara says the Spanish media like to claim Catalan nationalists somehow do not care about the grinding poverty and high unemployment of Southern Spain. But she points out that her family is from Andalucia and points the finger of blame at Madrid for the enduring poverty of the south and adds that an independent Catalonia will not turn its back on the land from which so many Catalans came.

Meanwhile, worse was to follow: “My mother has had an accident but because she is in another town I cannot visit her. My lawyer said this is an injustice but to no avail.”

Today Tamara is trapped in a topsy-turvy world where she was first charged, then investigated, the charge of terrorism was dropped, the lesser charge of “public disorder” remains but she is still in confinement awaiting trial on charges as yet unknown. As she points out, this has not stopped her being tried by the media, at the prompting of the Spanish state.

Spain’s Attorney General continues to insist further serious charges will be brought and that Tamara is the leader of those protesting peacefully in Catalonia.

The Socialist Party is now in government in Madrid. Last year its leader in Catalonia Miquel Iceta, an opponent of Catalan independence, said the protests organized by the CDR could not be linked to terrorism. “We have seen roads cut off, protests on motorways, graffiti, the odd act of local vandalism, but not terrorism.”

Almost 1000 people have now been arrested for taking part in peaceful protests, including 500 mayors and town councillors charged with offences such as flying the Catalan flag from municipal buildings on Spanish national holidays or keeping the buildings open on those days.

Tamara’s plight is one that should be arousing concern among all of those who value and defend human rights.

As I left her I remembered that the head of state in Spain is King Felipe Bourbon the sixth. It was said of the Bourbons that they “forget nothing and learn nothing”. Their cousins once ruled the Kingdom of Naples and, in the 19th century, were a byword for repression and tyranny. The great Liberal leader at Westminster William Ewart Gladstone wrote a pamphlet slating Bourbon rule there. Eventually, the Royal Navy effectively blocked Bourbon ships, stopping Garibaldi’s expedition landing in Sicily and beginning their campaign which overthrew the King in Naples and united Italy.

Today the silence of the British and other European governments stands in contrast to that. They remain silent over such gross cases of injustice as Tamara’s. She wants that silence to end, and to end now.