Demonstration in Barcelona against the detention of separatists for 6 months
Catalan independence leader Jordi Sanchez arrives at Madrid’s Supreme Court on 16 October 2017
Six months after the first incarceration of figures of Catalan independence, a demonstration is convened Sunday in Barcelona to protest the imprisonment of nine secessionists accused of “rebellion” and demand the opening of a political dialogue.
The call for demonstrations from 12:30 (local, 1030 GMT) was launched by a platform created in March in the north-east region of Spain, to “defend the Catalan institutions” and “the rights and fundamental freedoms ” citizens.
The fact that two large unions, the Workers’ Commissions and UGT, are among them, along with the separatist ANC and Omnium associations, provoked turmoil and protest among those of their members who never wanted independence.
“There have been tensions (among the unionized) as in the whole of Catalan society,” admitted Saturday the Secretary General of UGT in Catalonia, Camil Ros, interviewed by AFP.
“But this is not an independentist demonstration,” said Ros: “It’s time to build bridges and the problem of Catalonia should not be resolved in the courts but through dialogue and politics” .
The mobilization takes place ten days after the release of former Catalan independence president Carles Puigdemont in Germany, where a court ruled that the charges for “rebellion” were unsupported.
However, Spanish magistrates sent Thursday to their German counterparts elements to accredit the existence of “violence justifying the rebellion” according to Madrid, hoping to get the surrender of Mr. Puigdemont to Spain for this charge.
Demonstration for the release of Catalan independence leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, January 16, 2018 in Barcelona
Mr Puigdemont is also accused of embezzlement of public funds, in connection with the organization of the referendum of self-determination banned from 1 October.
– “Make more independenceists” –
Ready to demonstrate, the 50-year-old computer scientist Alex De Ferrer is among those who believe that jailing leaders “only serves to build more separatists.”
The movement is “a bit beheaded,” admits the sympathizer of the separatist Left Party ERC. “But it’s temporary,” he believes, “and the fundamental problem will not be solved by defying the ideals of two million people,” the 47.5% of Catalan voters who gave secessionists a majority in seats in the regional parliament, in December.
On their balconies or their buttonholes, countless Catalans display a yellow ribbon in solidarity with detained separatists: a sign that Justice Minister Rafael Catala deems “insulting,” because he claims that there are political prisoners in Spain while they are imprisoned politicians “.
The portraits of imprisoned independence activists abound in the villages around Girona and Figueras. “They were put in prison without trial,” protests Esther Camps, marketing director of 44 years in Bascara (900 inhabitants), “scandalized” that Catalan independence is compared to the Basque armed organization ETA deadly record.
“They are accused of violence but all demonstrations have had a peaceful character,” she assures, conceding only that there may have been “disturbance to public order, perhaps.”
Since October 16, the former presidents of independentist associations Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart are in pre-trial detention 650 km from Barcelona.
Incarcerated before the vain proclamation of a “Catalan Republic” on October 27, they are considered as members of the hard core who led the frustrated march towards independence.
Judge Pablo Llarena accuses them of having “used their responsibility at the head of the ANC and Omnium to mobilize hundreds of thousands of supporters and have a critical mass against the police obligation to ‘to prevent the illegal referendum’.
“What makes me sad is the accusation of violence, which has never existed,” replied Jordi Sanchez on Twitter in December.
Elected Catalan deputy while he was detained, he was twice nominated for the regional presidency, but the judge rejected his requests to leave prison.
It remains five weeks for separatists to invest a person at the head of the region, failing which new regional elections will be held in mid-July.