The families of 13 young Socialist women who were imprisoned, tortured and summarily executed by a Franquista firing squad four months after the end of the Spanish Civil War have filed a lawsuit against ultra-right VOX party leader Javier Ortega Smith for televised remarks and comments via social media falsely claiming the women were executed because they were guilty of having “tortured, raped and murdered” people during the war.
The 13 women aged 18-27 were rounded up in Madrid in July 1939 in a wave of arrests of members of the Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas organization of young Socialist and Communist party activists. Following imprisonment and torture, the thirteen were executed by firing squad along with 47 other civilian opponents of the Franco regime on 5th August 1939. Widely known as the “13 Rosas” ever since, seven of the women were under the age of 21 and considered minors in Spain at the time.
In televised comments during a 4th October interview with national broadcaster RTVE, Ortega Smith complained about what he called historical lies in “speaking of those they’ve called the ’13 Roses’ … it turns out that what they’d done was to vilely torture, rape and murder” during the Spanish Civil War. Asked by the television interviewer to confirm that he was saying the 13 women had raped people during the war, Ortega Smith said that they had and claimed were guilty of “committing brutal crimes” in the war-time Communist checa detention centers in Madrid.
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The VOX leader’s unsubstantiated comments created an immediate furor in the Spanish media and this week relatives of the 13 women joined the Asociación Centro Cultural Trece Rosas and various Historical Memory organizations in filing a complaint against Ortega Smith with Spain’s Attorney General’s office for hate-speech and defamation of character.
Alicia Jimeno Manzanero, grandaughter of Dionisia Manzanero, who at age 20 was one of those executed in 1939, told reporters that family members filing the lawsuit were doing so out of indignation that the 13 Rosas were being characterized as the perpretrators of atrocities by Ortega Smith, when in fact they were the victims of an atrocity committed by the Franco government.
“They were the victims who were killed,” said Jimeno Manzanero. “It’s not possible that someone can call them murderers and society allows that to go unchallenged.”
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