Organisations claim to open mass graves to identify 4,700 missing, 80 years after Spanish Civil War

Article published by Catalan News Agency, 18th July 2016

Photo: Commemorative banner of the Civil War 80th anniversary and the marks of artillery shelling on the walls of Plaça Sant Felip Neri on the background (by ACN)

Barcelona (CNA).- 80 years after the Spanish Civil War broke out, there are still 4,700 disappeared and many martial-courts applied to civil citizens who were against Franco’s dictatorship have never been annulled. These are two of the main claims put forth by the organisations working to recover historic memory and prevent these facts and its consequences from being forgotten or neglected. One of the priorities is to reopen 373 mass graves in Catalonia and exhume the bodies, so that they can be properly buried. “Spain continues to be the second country in the world, after Cambodia, with the higher number of people who underwent enforced disappearance and whose mortal remains have never been recovered nor identified”, stated ‘Judges for Democracy’ spokeswoman, Begoña López.

According to the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory’s President, Manel Perona, the “main priority” now is reopening the mass graves, a matter of “urgency”, according to Perona, since there are 373 mass graves in Catalonia, “159 confirmed and the rest to be verified”.

Once the mass graves could be reopened, the bodies could be exhumed and identified, a process which will be possible thanks to the DNA of the missing’s relatives. The Universitat de Barcelona has played a key role in this process, since its DNA Bank has been collecting blood samples of the missing’s relatives for the last 4 years. In this vein, DNA Bank’s director Carme Barrot urged to “change the law on mass graves”, since it was made for “preventing the graves to be opened”. She also called for the mass graves’ map to be deeply reviewed. “It is not accurate; we still miss 373 mass graves which are supposed to be there”.

Regarding the costs of these procedures, Barrot urged the Catalan Government to fund the task carried out so far by the DNA Bank and to set the identification protocols which will be followed from now on. “To draw blood [from the remains] costs 150 euros to the relatives. Both this cost and the custody of the samples should be assumed by the Government”, she stated.

In a similar vein, ‘Judges for Democracy’s spokeswoman, Begoña López, urged the Spanish state to carry out “an official investigation” to find out the exact number of unidentified victims. “It is the Spanish Government’s duty to do so, as it signed the UN convention”, stated López and added that “a democratic state can’t bear to have such an amount of missing people”.

Nullity of the martial courts


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