1 October [1-O] showed just how unstoppable the will of the people is when we work together in defence of a shared goal. We wanted to vote and we voted. The Spanish state, with all its power of coercion and police violence, couldn’t prevent more than 2.3 million women and men from voting in about 6,000 ballot boxes located at some 2,000 polling stations across the country.
The referendum has been praised for many reasons, but society’s ability to peacefully disobey an unfair and unwarranted prohibition stands out. The vote, as we reminded the magistrates of Spain’s Supreme Court, was the greatest act of civil disobedience that Europe has ever seen: "Catalonia’s Gandhian moment" as Ramin Jahanbegloo, the director of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre, called it.
Faced with mass civil disobedience, the state opted for violence and rejected dialogue and compromise. This violence has only continued to grow since the autumn of 2017.
Violence in the form of truncheons on 1-O and also in the form of our being held on remand; in the charges of rebellion and sedition that sent most of the members of a democratically elected government and the President of Parliament to prison or into exile, and for which the prosecution are calling for sentences running into decades; it is the existence of hundreds of people being prosecuted as punishment for 1-O; the desperate attempt to equate terrorism with independence in the days leading up to the Supreme Court's decision; it is the desire to build new court cases, with spectacular arrests and leaks to the media aimed at creating a criminal backstory involving the detainees and the independence movement at large.
Here in prison, we too feel indignation for these events, we personally suffer from their effects and we appreciate the public’s growing concern as to the dirty tactics which the state is employing. Nevertheless, we call on you not to resign yourselves, but to continue striving for what we all believe to be just and, above all, to keep the flame of our legitimate national and democratic aspirations alive. We have not given up or renounced any of them: we are determined to believe in the bright, possible future which they seek to deny us.
We encourage you now, as we did on many occasions before we were sent to prison on 16 October 2017, to continue to take to the streets when summoned by our organisations but, above all, not to let the heat of the moment get the better of you. The present is hard and it is highly likely the upcoming rulings and future decisions made by the courts and the police will make it even more bitter. But the future will only remain ours if we are able to keep the seed of non-violence alive.
Let’s learn from the lessons of 1 and 3 October in order to face the challenges which lie ahead. Let’s show that we only fight against the injustice and violence wielded by the state through the use of non-violence. Only in this way will we dismantle this false narrative and will we be able to defeat their violence once more and to expose their lies.
We insist on condemning the use of violence a thousand times over, while maintaining that the only way in which the independence movement can move forward is by continuing down the path of non-violence. We refuse to listen to those who hide behind the violence wielded by the state, to those who deny all who wish for independence the right to the presumption of innocence and, much less those who are so lacking in scruples and morals as to use images and victims of terrorism from some thirty years ago for political gain.
The only violence which we have seen in Catalonia since 2017 is that which is supported by and exercised by the state. Calling for freedom, standing against political and judicial decisions, demanding the right to self-determination, disobeying unjust laws and arbitrary prohibitions, reporting the police for overstepping the line, defending ballot boxes and voting in a referendum: none of these things represent violence. Let’s be very clear on this.
We learned how powerful the practice of non-violence can be on 1-O. Thanks to its strength, we resisted the desire of a whole state to prevent us from voting and, above all, we neutralised the state’s attempts —along with its media mouthpieces— to associate the defence of the right to self-determination and the sovereignty process with violence.
Non-violence is the key to the strength of our struggle, which is none other than the fight for freedom and democracy. It is not passivity, resignation or inactivity. There is nothing which diffuses the violence wielded by the state better than the fact that ours is a forceful, imaginative and peaceful mass movement. Non-violence is the seed of a process which, if we stick together, without resignation or fear, will sooner or later bear the desired fruit of freedom. Thank you for your continued support and for refusing to give in.
Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez
Lledoners prison, 1 October 2019
715 days in prison