An injustice

Today, the Spanish central government still holds political prisoners whose only crime was to defend the people’s right to vote.

This shame on democracy has raised voices of protest around the world.

Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez are the leaders of Òmnium Cultural and Catalan National Assembly (ANC), the two main pro-independence Catalan civil society organisations. On 16 October, Cuixart and Sànchez were sent to prison on charges of sedition, despite complaints by Amnesty International and 109 Spanish jurists that the charges of rebellion and sedition for exercising fundamental rights are disproportionate.

In seven years of massive demonstrations organised by Òmnium and ANC, there was never an episode of violence. Yet on 1 October, a referendum on self-determination was held that the Spanish government violently repressed, prompting rejection by the international media and Human Rights Watch.

One month later, on 2 November, the Spanish National Court ordered the unconditional imprisonment of the Catalan government’s Vice President Oriol Junqueras and seven Catalan ministers: Mundó, Turull, Rull, Romeva, Forn, Bassa and Borràs. They were also charged with crimes of embezzlement of public funds because they opened the polls on 1 October, despite fulfilling a democratic mandate. President Puigdemont and 5 Catalan ministers have remained in Belgium since 5 November and the Supreme Court has twice refused to reactivate the European arrest warrant.

On 4 December, Supreme Court Justice Pablo Llarena released six of the eight ministers on €100,000 bail, but kept VP Junqueras, Minister Forn and Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez in prison.

On 1 February, Cuixart, Sànchez and Junqueras appealed to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) because governments cannot repress political dissent through arbitrary detention.

On 23 March, Judge Llarena sent five MPs back to prison: Raül Romeva, Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Jordi Turull and the former speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell. All have been held in prisons located more than 600 km from their families. The same day, Judge Llarena reactivated the European Arrest Warrant against Carles Puigdemont and the members of his government-in-exile (Clara Ponsatí, Toni Comín, Meritxell Serret and Lluís Puig), as well as the ERC’s secretary general and MP Marta Rovira and former Catalan MP Anna Gabriel.

 

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