Ascensión Mendieta (1925-2019)

December 15, 2019
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Ascención Mendieta at her father’s reburial in Madrid, July 2, 2017. Photo Óscar Rodríguez.

Ascención Mendieta at her father’s reburial in Madrid, July 2, 2017. Photo Óscar Rodríguez.

Ascensión Mendieta, whose father Timoteo, a labor activist from Guadalajara, was killed by the Franco regime shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War, in November 1939, passed away on September 16. She was 93 years old.

In the last years of her life, Ms. Mendieta became a symbol of the quest for justice undertaken by the victims of Francoism. As one of the most elderly plaintiffs in the so-called “Argentine lawsuit,” which appealed to universal jurisdiction to seek the persecution of Francoist officials responsible for torture and other crimes, Ms. Mendieta gave countless television interviews. She also features centrally in the Goya-award-winning documentary The Silence of Others.

Ms. Mendieta’s case made history in 2013, when the Argentine judge in charge of her case, María Servini, ordered the exhumation of a mass grave believed to contain the remains of Mendieta’s father. The exhumation task was taken on by the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH), winner of the 2015 ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism. After several failed attempts, the ARMH was finally able to exhume Timoteo’s remains in 2017 and hand them over to the family for a reburial that became a global news event.

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