AFP, Released Wednesday, February 16, 2022 at 1:37 pm.
“It Should Never Have Happened”: In Scotland, Clary Mitchell and Joe Ventitosi are fighting for the execution of witchcraft, most of them women, to be forgiven and a memorial to pay tribute to these great men who forgot the story.
“Between the 16th and 18th centuries in Scotland, about 4,000 people were accused of practicing witchcraft, 84% of them women,” 50-year-old lawyer Claire Mitchell told AFP.
In total, more than 2,500 people were hanged for witchcraft, most of the time strangled and then burned, after confessions extracted under torture.
The AFP location at a cemetery in Dundee (northeast) known as “The Huff” reads, “They were prevented from sleeping for several days (…) and admitted that they had been sorcerers, dancing with the devil or having sex with him.”
In this 16th century tomb, there is a small stone pillar, nicknamed the “Stone of the Witches”, which was blown away by an icy wind. Passers-by left flower petals and coins there in 1669 to pay homage to those who had been hanged for witchcraft, including Chrysler Jaffrey. On a street in the city center, there is a mosaic in memory of this woman, a cone that escaped the flames. Known as “Dundee’s Last Witch”.
– Unauthorized plays –
Claire Mitchell founded the “Witches of Scotland” association two years ago on March 8, 2020, International Women’s Rights Day, after discovering the extent of the impact of witchcraft law. This law of 1563 gave the death penalty to the perpetrators of witchcraft and remained in force until 1736.
His association asks for three things: an apology to all the perpetrators of witchcraft, an official apology from the authorities, and a national monument to commemorate these little-known tragedies.
Joe Wenditosi, 46, a member of the same association, says he “knew nothing” about these witch hunts until recently, “although I was born in Fife, there were a lot of executions”.
She found that “anyone can be blamed”, “usually ordinary, often poor, vulnerable, self – defending” or “strange or perceived as disturbed.”
At the time, he recalled, “people believed in the devil very hard,” and “women are accused because they were seen as easily manipulated by the devil.”
– The work of the devil –
Sensitive to this cause, too, Natalie Donne, a member of the SNP (Freedom Party in power in Scotland), wants to soon introduce a bill in the Scottish Parliament to seek amnesty for all those convicted of witchcraft.
“People are still being accused and punished for practicing witchcraft in many countries. Scotland needs to realize the horrors of our past and make sure they do not go down in history as criminals. This sends a strong message internationally. These practices are not acceptable,” the MP argues.
Scotland was particularly affected by these witch hunts.
Julian Goodare, a professor of history at the University of Edinburgh, oversaw the creation of a database to identify them.
He notes that 2,500 people were hanged for this cause in Scotland, at a time when one million people lived, which he stressed was “five times higher than the average in Europe”.
The historian points out that these were executions following trials provided by “evidence”: confessions or statements from a neighbor that the suspect had “seduced” them, and that these executions were staged in full view on the Esplanade of Castle Edinburgh. .
Hunting “witches” is the act of the state, an act of an elite who believes that “the devil is trying to do all possible harm and that witches are his allies.”
He also advocates the establishment of a monument that restores this history: “We cannot change the past, but we can learn from this past”.
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