Friday, March 02, 2007

March 2

The fascist regime of Francisco Franco executed Spanish anarchist Salvador Puig Antich on this date in 1974; he was garroted at Modelo Prison in Barcelona, having been convicted in the death of a policeman the previous September. He was one of two people executed by garrote that day, the last to be killed by such abominable means in Spain’s history.

Antich had been a member of the Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación, a group comprised of Spanish and French anarchists that battled the Franco government with increasingly violent results. To support their activities -- which included offering support to striking workers -- MIL conducted a series of bank robberies, for which Antich served as a driver. After an August 1973 heist at the Savings and Pension Bank of Barcelona, several of Antich’s comrades were arrested and tortured into naming their co-conspirators. On 25 September 1973, a young police officer was shot and killed -- probably by one of his own men -- during a raid that netted Antich and Xaviuer Garriga, also a member of MIL. After a farcical trial, Antich was sentenced to die; in spite of protests across the country and the rest of the continent, the 25-year-old was strapped to a chair thirty-three years ago and strangled by a ligature tightened from behind by his executioner.


Thirty years later, rockets, mortars and suicide bombers in the Iraqi cities of Kerbala and Baghdad killed nearly 200 people in a coordinated series of attacks that coincided with the Shi’a celebration of Ashoura. The most important of the Shi’a holy days, Ashoura had been banned under the rule of Saddam Hussein -- this was to be the first celebration in years to occur without fear of suppression. In Kerbala, a witness described the scene to a British reporter:
"Suddenly there was a huge fire in the street," he said. "I passed out. When I came round I saw dead people all around - so many dead people.

"I saw pieces of flesh everywhere, and heard screaming. When the ambulance came I just jumped in."
Meanwhile in the Pakistani city of Quetta, three gunmen opened fire on a crowd of Shi’a during its procession through the city’s Liaquat Bazaar. Dozens were killed immediately; the infuriated crowd quickly turned on the shooters, who blew themselves up -- along with dozens more -- with explosive belts strapped to their torsos.

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