Parlamentarianism sits in the dock

We have seen how some courts are looking to turn the Parliamentary Board into a censoring body and we can’t allow that

Parlamentarianism sits in the dock / ANDREU DALMAU / EFE

On Tuesday this week another case that should have never made it this far will actually go to court. The MPs who served with me on the Board of the Catalan Parliament [in 2017] will be tried in a court of law. The Board —the body tasked with preserving the sovereignty of the chamber, upholding the right of MPs to table initiatives, protecting the free exercise of political thought and the freedom of expression— will sit in the dock with them. It will be an unfair trial that will expose, once again, how basic rights, such as free speech and the right to political representation, are trampled on in Spain. We have seen judges decide what may and may not be debated and what the Catalan Parliament may and may not vote on. We have even seen them decide who gets to take up a seat in parliament and who doesn’t. We have seen how some courts are looking to turn the Parliamentary Board into a censoring body and we can’t allow that. As democratic citizens, we cannot allow censorship to enter the Catalan Parliament.

For this reason, I wish to reiterate that [back in 2017] neither my colleagues nor I ever abused or infringed on any rights. Every MP was free to voice their views, promote their ideas and put forward their parliamentary proposals as they saw fit [ahead of the independence vote in October]. We always conducted ourselves in accordance with the duties of our office, upholding basic rights, free speech and, needless to say, following the Rules and Regulations of Parliament to the letter. Even my own sentence —to eleven and a half years in prison— acknowledges that I complied with the Rules of Parliament and does not mention any violation of rights. It does say that I disobeyed the Spanish Constitutional Court, like so many Spanish institutions before me (and since then). As a matter of fact, I do not know of any other instance when allowing a parliamentary debate has been punished with a prison sentence. As Speaker, I conducted myself with honour and responsibility, always standing up for parlamentarianism and the values I believe in: democracy, freedom, peace, equality, social justice, transparency and dialogue.

I stand my ground. A parliament should be able to discuss any topic, including Catalonia’s right to self-determination. Particularly when the general public is also discussing the matter and it has become the central issue in the political conflict we currently find ourselves in. Even more so when the same point had been discussed and voted on in earlier terms, probably because the parties that supported independence were in a minority. It’s all about letting them vote when they don’t have a majority and denying them that same right when they do and they might win the vote. That’s why the Spanish institutions and courts of law didn’t take any action [before 2017]: self-determination didn’t have enough parliamentary support. Those institutions exist as part of the 1978 regime, an outdated system devoted to persecuting, slandering and imprisoning a political ideal: Catalan independence. Only a few days ago we had further evidence of this when it transpired that Catalonia’s pro-independence leaders had been targeted by sophisticated spyware.

In the face of this darkness, of such a tattered, patriarchal regime, the only way forward is democracy, equality and feminism. The path to a better, fairer future where basic rights and democratic liberties are asserted. A future that is respectful of diversity, without discrimination: Catalonia is a diverse nation and we want to keep it that way. A future where political dissidents are not persecuted. A future where the republican values of equality, fraternity and liberty prevail and where the stale, corrupt monarchy is left behind. A future where there will be equal pay for women and they will have the same opportunities as men. This is the future we want now: the Catalan Republic. Still, I realise it won’t be a bed of roses and there will be many hurdles along the way, like the one my colleagues will be facing on Tuesday. But I know that if we persevere, we shall prevail.

To my friends and colleagues Anna Simó, Ramona Barrufet, Lluís Corominas and Lluís Guinó; also my fellow MP Mireia Boya and my colleague Joan Josep Nuet, who will stand trial in the Supreme Court, like I did: you are facing a court of law, with all the strain, anxiety and worry that it involves, but also with a clear conscience, knowing that you always did the right thing. You were honourable members of Parliament and served with me on the Board. I am proud to have worked with you.