EU Catalan electorate organised demonstration at doorstep of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on July 2 – the first day of the sitting of a new legislature. They have been protesting against ban of three of their elected MEPs to access their offices. Oriol Junqueras, imprisoned in Spain, Charles Puigdemont and Antoni Comin, stay in exile in Belgium.
Carles Puigdemont was expected among the demonstrators but his lawyer Gonzalo Boye convinced him to avoid travelling in France, fearing his arrest.
According to local police, around 10,000 demonstrators participated. They came by bus, cars and even two chartered flights.
Spanish MEPs from parties like the Ciudadanos insist that fugitive suspects do not have the right to sit in the European Parliament, representing electorate.
On Monday, the European Court of Justice agreed with this opinion.
A Madrid court ruled on that former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who lives in a self-imposed exile in Belgium since 2017 to escape arrest for his prominent role in organising the independence referendum, could run in the European Parliament election on May 26.
Spain’s electoral commission last month barred Puigdemont and two other fugitive Catalan politicians from standing, but they contested the decision in court. Puigdemont and Toni Comin live in Belgium while Clara Ponsati lives in Scotland.
All three face imminent arrest in case they return to Spain as the referendum was ruled not only illegal by the Constitutional Court. Nine Catalan leaders – including Puigdemont’s former vice-president, Oriol Junqueras are going through trial in Madrid on charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
Four Catalan leaders on trial in Madrid over a 2017 referendum their said the independence parties should be more flexible about entering negotiations on forming the next Spanish government after a April 28 national election.
The Catalan leaders’ published an open letter in weekend’s edition of La Vanguardia newspaper, suggesting the independence parties should enter talks with potential coalition partners as long as they refused to rule out an independence referendum as a “possible solution” for the region.
Ana GOMES MEP (Portugal, S&D) raises concerns about the policy of Pedro Sanchez government, dealing with the Catalan independence issue as if it is a legal problem, instead of acknowledging its political nature. Gomes promotes dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona, breaking the deadlock through talks. She is also concerned about the methods of repressing of Catalan politicians, reminiscent of times of General Franco regime. “Yes, I have to acknowledge it, there are political prisoners in Spain“, Gomessaid. She criticises the position of the Human rights Commissioner Frans Timmermans, who prefers to ignore the existence of political prisoners in Spain. Gomes questions the freedom of press in Spain, and inquires if there is a practice of self-censorship among mass media journalists in covering Catalan issue. Among the prisoners is the former colleague of Ana Gomes – MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda appointed later the Minister for External and Institutional Relations of Catalonia.
Six people arrested, and 24 injured during protests in Barcelona degrading in clashes between police and demonstrators ahead of the anniversary of the 2017 Catalan independence referendum. Police have attempted to prevent protesters who gathered in downtown Barcelona to confront another march in support of Spanish police.
Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau asked to “avoid confrontation” between pro-independence groups and people marching in support of Spanish police, who are demanding higher salary.
Catalan police Mossos d’Esquadra, have been active in attempting to avoid the opponent protest groups to confront, Catalan News reports, while pro-independence groups passed along the streets same time as the Spanish agents.
There were moments of tension, when police agents have been violently hitting people with their batons. Protesters later chanted messages against the Catalan police and urged the Catalan minister of Home Affairs, Miquel Buch, to resign.
Although there was some tension in the frontline of the pro-independence march, the atmosphere remained enthusiastic at Plaça Sant Jaume, where thousands of people were protesting against the Spanish police presence in the city.
A helicopter has been monitoring the city center of Barcelona, where the two opposed demonstrations were taking place.
A year ago hundreds of Catalans were injured in clashes between Spanish national police and civilians on the day of the referendum as police tried to stop people from voting.
Ivo VAJGL MEP expresses concern about the lack of respect of fundamental rights of Catalans, and especially prisoners of conscience, who were jailed for their political activities. The EU-Catalonia dialogue platform sent letters to Spain to ask for MEPs visit of prison with 10 Catalan politicians.
Catalan authorities will not follow orders from the Spanish government if Madrid moves to reassert control over the region, a senior official says.
Foreign affairs spokesman Raul Romeva told the central government was acting against the will of Catalans.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced plans to sack the region’s government and curtail some of the freedoms of its parliament.
The Catalan parliament will meet on Thursday to decide on its response.
The pro-independence leaders could decide to formalise a unilateral declaration of independence.
The Spanish Senate is expected to approve the government’s measures on Friday along with a proposal for fresh regional elections. The Catalan leaders are attempting to catch up with the dynamics of events in Madrid, and react before marginalised.