24 Nobel Prize winners decry Spain’s “violence” in Catalonia, call for “negotiation”

In a letter they state that democracies can find “ways to allow freedom of expression”

Twenty-four Nobel Prize winners from several fields have penned an “Open letter to Spain and Catalonia” where they complain that the Spanish government has done “little” to resolve the Catalan issue and remark that they could have “never anticipated” the “extreme, pointless” measures “emanating from Madrid” in response to the vote on October 1. They deplore the “scenes of police brutality, the violence and the use of rubber bullets against the Catalan people”, which they “would have never expected from Spain today”.

Still, as eight Nobel Peace Prize winners did in a letter on October 8, the twenty-four laureates also point out that neither side is “without fault” in a conflict which they believe did not start with the referendum on October 1 and Spain’s riot police, but “seven years ago, when the Constitutional Court struck down Catalonia’s 2010 Statute after it had been approved by the Spanish parliament”. For this reason in their the letter —a copy of which has been sent to the European Commission— the Nobel Prize winners call to “mediate and negotiate” to undo “today’s draw” between Catalonia and Spain.

The authors of the letter do not comment on constitutional issues, but they believe that “mature” democracies can find “different ways to allow freedom of expression”. Furthermore, they recall the examples of Quebec and Scotland, two regions that still form part of Canada and the UK after a No win in the self-determination referendums which they had agreed to hold with their respective central governments.

For this reason, the authors of the letter believe that “any violent response by a central government” to the “wishes of free speech” of the people “can only increase hostility and stir up unrest where there wasn’t any”. The twenty-four Nobel laureates include ten prize-winners for Peace, six for Medicine, four for Chemistry, two for Literature, one for Physics and one for Economy. At the end of their letter, they conclude that “a people that feels oppressed rarely vanishes quietly in the night”.

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