THE daughter of deposed Catalan interior minister Joaquim Forn has told how a Christmas decoration that had been sent to him in Madrid’s Estremera prison was returned in pieces to the man who made it with “Viva España” scrawled on the box.

In a letter to The National, Anna Forn said her father was coping “quite well” with his incarceration, although he was very keen to get out.

However, she said the “shameful” incident “sadly shows the humiliation we Catalans have to cope with”.

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“In this period of Christmas, an elderly man thought it would be nice if Joaquim and [vice-president] Oriol [Junqueras] could have a Christmas crib (the nativity scene we put in our homes during Christmas),” said Anna.

“He shaped one with modelling clay, with all the figures and everything ... and sent it to Estremera. It was returned all smashed and written on the box ‘Viva España’!”

The National:

The online Catalan publication said the man who made the crib was Antoni Bargalló, who makes a few every year to give away.

He decided to make a special one for the imprisoned ministers – who are known for their Christian beliefs – and sent it by UPS on December 21, only to have it returned to him six days later in pieces.

“When I went to UPS I asked if I could send a nativity in prison, they consulted and they said yes,” said Bargalló.

“It is noticeable when it is an accident due to poor transport or when it was wrecked intentionally, and the manger was expressly broken, the trees had been ripped off and they had removed the batteries of the lights, for example. The irrefutable proof that it was bad intention is that in the box, on the name of the sender, they had written a ‘Viva España’ as well.”

He said that the situation was regrettable, because he only wanted the two ministers – whom he has known since he was a city councillor in Barcelona – to spend the holidays with a nativity scene in their cell.

Anna also sent us an open letter from her mother Laura to her husband Joaquim, which was read out at a regular public gathering in Barcelona to maintain public awareness of victims of political repression.

Laura said she couldn’t be with her husband because he was in Estremera – a round trip of 1200km (750 miles) from their home.

“Letting work go, paying the journey ... it’s all a part of the punishment,” she wrote. “It’s been two months since Joaquim and Oriol were put in jail. And for the Jordis [Sànchez and Cuixart] it’s already been two and a half months.

She said she had sent a WhatsApp message that went “a bit viral”, in which she expressed her continued outrage at the detentions.

It read: “Today marks two months ... of provisional detention in fear he’ll ... encourage friends and acquaintances to act with extreme violence. My outrage increases. I try not to think about the kind of state we are ruled by and how these shameful situations are being normalised. It scares me. I’m afraid of the impunity linked to the abuse of power.”

Laura urged people to continue to express their displeasure at the Spanish government’s actions: “Write a letter to the newspaper, call the radios, bringing the issue up at the bakery, at work, on the bus, in the elevator ... and let’s start building the Republic, step by step, constantly questioning what the oppressor calls ‘the established order’ ...

“Yesterday a friend told me that at the end of a presentation he was giving, he exposed and condemned the current situation. He received a serious complaint and warning. We have been quiet for too long, while others have dared everything.”

She added: “Now I feel the situation is getting worse ... They are trying to sell us fiction. Democratic elections? They have pretended to give us some tools but then we are forced to play by their rules. We are tied up (jail, exile, lawsuits, disqualified from public office, fines ... ). I beg you to be creative. Let’s use our intelligence, to reorganise ourselves, to be engaged with pacifistic activism, and let’s make it effective ... Politics has become what it is, and it will serve what it can. But only we, a civil society, can and will pave the way.”