Yesterday, members of the government of Catalonia were sent to prison as the result of a judicial process in which they were charged with rebellion following the proclamation of the Republic. This is a devastating event that takes us back to other dramatic moments in our history. Besides the vice president, seven ministers and a former minister being held without bail, the rest of the Catalan government and President Carles Puigdemont are in Belgium, pending the issue of an international arrest warrant. To complete the picture, next week the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament and five members of the Parliamentary Bureau will be called to testify in court, in connection with the same allegations. The country’s highest authorities, together with the leaders of Catalonia’s two largest civil society organisations are currently subject to repressive measures that presage a dark future.
For the sake of democracy and peace, the members of the legitimate government of Catalonia must be released and, together with those in exile, allowed to resume their duties. The Parliament of Catalonia must be restored to its normal sovereign status. The charges against hundreds of mayors, public officials and private citizens must be dropped. And the scenes of violence against the public, such as those which took place during the holding of the referendum on 1 October, must not be repeated.
The international institutions ought to realise that Catalonia is a nation, it is not an invention and that its legitimate demands for democracy to resolve the conflict with Spain ought to be addressed. The Catalan nation will not be silenced through repressive means. Both its democratic and national rights must be respected in a climate of civility and tolerance.
This text has been published jointly by over twenty newspapers