WE have seen for decades that Spain will not change enough and that it abuses and does not respect Catalonia. That is why, from 2007 onwards, a broad social demand began for Catalonia’s self-determination, to be able to organise its society on the basis of its own personality.

The Spanish government’s response was to ignore, for years, the peaceful and massive demonstrations. The Spanish government’s closed-mindedness led the independence movement to hold, in 2017, a unilateral referendum as a pressure measure to prevent the Spanish government from continuing to ignore the demand and to achieve an agreed referendum.

The Spanish government did not want to negotiate anything and the referendum was held, with 2.3 million votes and 90.2% in favour. 10,000 Spanish police were sent to prevent the referendum and beat up voters, causing 1,096 injuries and irreversible emotional breakdown.

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As a referendum is not a crime in the Spanish penal code, the Constitutional Court had banned the referendum in an attempt to prevent it. So Catalan politicians, willing to force a dialogue that was not forthcoming, had taken the risk because disobedience only entails fines and political disqualification, but never prison sentences.

Despite this, the Spanish government deposed the Catalan government and imprisoned seven politicians and two social activists with sentences ranging from nine to 13 years. In order to get rid of the anti-democratic action of the Spanish right-wing government, the Catalan parties supported the formation of a social democratic government. But the repression against the independence movement has continued unstoppably, with police set-ups, accusations by the government prosecutor’s office and devastating convictions, and there are already 3,300 defendants!

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Appeals have been lodged in the Spanish courts, but they continue with the illegitimate use of justice to try to destroy a political movement that they detest from the standpoint of an ultra-nationalist defence of the unity of Spain. Amnesty International and the UN Working Group on Unlawful Detention have ruled that the convictions are unlawful and that the prisoners must be released. Now the Council of Europe has issued a preliminary report that anticipates a very harsh condemnation of Spain, putting it on a par with Turkey!

In time, the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights will also come. To clean up the repressive and authoritarian image of the country, the government of Pedro Sanchez plans to release the nine political prisoners in order not to be accused of judicial abuse.

On Monday Sanchez came to Barcelona to carry out a propaganda event about the pardons. But the protests in the streets of Barcelona have reminded him that this future release does not cover up the fact that these people have been unjustly imprisoned for four years. Sanchez is releasing the prisoners to make Spain look good, but he still does not want to address the political substance of the conflict: the right to self-determination of the Catalan people.

Spain should not be a prison for its people. Catalonia, as an oppressed nation, wants to decide its future.

Jordi Oriola Folch

THE Council of Europe in action! Worth remembering that it was the Council of Europe that brought about devolution in the UK. The UK’s democracy was so primitive, it couldn’t remain a member of the CofE unless there were significant changes. One of the changes was devolution.

Alistair Potter
via thenational.scot