Tag Archives: political prisoners

MEP: Catalan trials reminiscent of comrade Stalin ‘justice’

The Calalan trials in Madrid are reminiscent of ‘Vishinky justice’  of comrade Stalin style dealing with his political opponents“, said Indrek Tarand, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Estonia, while commenting on the accusations of the Catalan politicians. MEP is definite about the status of all the Catalans accused at High Court in Madrid as ‘prisoners of conscious“, and he also sees the sinister parallels between Spain’s political system oppressive methods and the extinct USSR.

“In democracy, debating and talking about everything is normal and logical. In democracy, voting is not a crime. We have made it very clear” said the former speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell to the judges in Spain’s Supreme Court in Madrid.

Spain’s public prosecutor has requested prison 17 years of sentence for her. Forcadell, is the first of among  accused of rebellion Catalan politicians  to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.

Her lawyers have already presented her appeal to ECHR arguing  the gross disproportion of her pre-trial detention. Forcadell has been under this restriction since 23rd March 2018.

Before the arrest Forcadell used to be the president of the Catalan parliament when lawmakers passed referendum laws and voted on the declaration of independence, perceived as a “rebellion” by Madrid.

In her testimonyForcadell underlined that it was not within her competences to assess the “constitutionality” of parliamentary proposals, and said that “censorship can’t be allowed in parliament.” Former speaker Forcadell denied that the declaration of independence actually passed, as it was included in the preamble of a resolution and was therefore just a “political statement.

The first phase of the Catalan independence trial is completed, after 12 politicians and activists charged for calling a referendum and declaring independence in 2017 gave their testimony.

The accused, including former members of the Catalan government, defended themselves against accusations such as violent rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, and disobedience.



Catalan trial aggravates crisis

Spain riot police clashed with pro-independence Catalan protesters in Barcelona on while some activists burned tires and blocked highways across northeast of the country as part of a day of protests against the trial of 12 politicians.

A total of 28 people, including twelve police officers, were wounded and four people were arrested, police informed.

In spite of the rising tensions in Barcelona  the European Commissioner on Human Rights Frans Timmermans prefers to keep silence, insisting the trail is the issue for Spanish justice.

Gomes MEP on “political prisoners” in Spain

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 SpainGomes 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.

Catalonia protests amid Sanchez visit

Catalan politicians sentenced over organising independence referendum called on for peaceful protests ahead of a first visit of the Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Prime Minister  has planned to chair the weekly meeting in the Catalan capital Barcelona on December 21 in a gesture towards the conflict resolution with the northeastern region where Catalan pro-independence movement rejects the authority of Madrid central government. The claims for independence has not been dropped since the results of the referendum 2017 October 1, declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court, about 90% of Catalan voters backed independence with turnout of 43%.

The leaders of Catalan government and the speaker of the Parliament were arrested, and jailed shorty after the declaration of independence charged with ‘rebellion‘, a non existent crime in the other EU democracies.

21/12/2018 AMENDMENT:

Catalan News channel reports the mobilization of protesters from early morning hours.

The Socialist (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that he would be holding the meeting of his government in the Catalan capital Barcelona, after having done the same in Andalusia, in a bid to bring the central government closer to the people of Spain. These intentions have been interpreted otherwise by the supporters of the Catalonia independence,  and groups such as the self-styled Committee for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) have called for mass protests.

EP bans Sierra pro-Catalan installation in Strasbourg

The European Parliament banned pro-Catalan exhibition planned to be inaugurated during Strasbourg plenary (28-31 May). The artifacts signed by contemporary Spanish artist Santiago Sierra  have been already excluded from participation in a festival in Madrid, however the artist could not expect the similar fate to plagues his ouvre  in the institution symbolising European values, namely the freedom of thought.

Madrid’s International Contemporary Art Festival (ARCO) has already removed the installation of Santiago Sierra (born 1966, Madrid) named “Political prisoners in contemporary Spain,” which included the portraits of four Catalan leaders held behind bars for pursuing independence, the Catalan media reports.

The installation was planned  to be open to public on Wednesday (30/05), but questors, responsible for the admission of exhibitions to European Parliament building, decided to withdraw it before visitors could see it.

Serra’s installation is assembles 24 portraits, including the blurry pictures of jailed Catalan leaders. In total, 12 people have been held behind bars at some point during the investigation into Catalonia’s push for independence.

However the conference on the support of Catalan political prisoners in Spain was held during Strasbourg plenary, the Catalan media reports. The relatives of the jailed politicians, and activists met Members of European Parliament to share their concerns, and grievances.

Sakharov Prize for Catalan political prisoners

Ivo Vajgl, MEP, ALDE, Slovenia, explains the decision of Catalonia Dialogue Platform to nominate Catalan political prisoners in Spain for Sakharov Prize 2018. Vajgl underlined significance of engaging in dialogue to resolve the argument respecting the fundamental freedoms and human rights.

Catalonia former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, ex-Interior minister Joaquim Forn, and activists Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart remain in prison. Twenty-eight Catalan politicians are being investigated by Spanish Supreme Court judge for their role in the referendum and subsequent declaration of independence. At present all four men are kept in harsh conditions in prison cells with possible charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds for organising the referendum on independence of Catalonia.

The European Parliament supports human rights through the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, established in 1988.  The prize is awarded to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause.


Catalan independence movement reaches Brussels

Nearly 50,000 people marched through the European quarter of Brussels on Thursday  in support of Catalan independence and demand of release of political prisoners in Spain. They have been also declaring their support to President of self-proclaimed Catalan Republic Carles Puigdemont.

Marching through Brussels the demonstrators chanted “Puigdemont, President!” creating an impressive scenery of  from a crowd that was estimated by police to number 45,000. Many people were draped in Catalan flags; some carried placards criticising the European Union for not putting pressure on Madrid. One sign showed the face of the European  Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, with the question:

“Democracy? Some defend it when it suits them. Shame on them!”

Puigdemont wore yellow in support of jailed separatist leaders, addressed the crowd in Catalan before switching to French to direct a message to Juncker.


Brazil's Rousseff defends Catalan's right to self-determination

The former president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, defends “the right to self-determination” as long as it’s carried out “with respect to democracy.” During the press conference held in Strasbourg at the European Parliament, she also criticized the incarceration of the members of the Catalan government. Rousseff stated that imprisoning political leaders is “not a good idea” nor that it will “have any effect.”

The Brazilian politician expressed her belief that incarcerating government officials won’t “change people’s opinions,” nor will it “change the opinions or attitudes of those being held.” She did not respond to whether she believed that those being held were “political prisoners.” Yet, she did compare their incarceration to her own as a “political prisoner,” which lasted for three years. Indeed, she also explained that being detained “actually reinforced” her beliefs and made her “more resolved to fight for democratic principles.”

Catalonia: “Freedom to political prisoners!”

750 000 people have rallied in Barcelona to protest against Spain’s detention of Catalan independence leaders, police estimate.

They shone phone torches in unison at sunset as calls were made to free eight regional ministers and two grassroots campaign leaders being held on remand.

Some of the detainees will be included on the list of a Catalan separatist party at next month’s snap election.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy plans visiting Barcelona on Sunday.


Puigdemont: “Democracy in danger in EU”

The congregation of 200 Catalan Mayors at prestigious BOZAR concert hall in Brussels, gave unanimous support to the only ‘legitimate’ President Carles Puigdemont, and his government, partially in exile in Belgium, and partially in prison in Spain. Mayors demanded immediate liberation of the 10 political prisoners, and EU mediation in negotiations with Spain over independence settlement.

Among the speakers Mayors of small villages and cities were expressing concern about the silence of the EU, and incapacity to defend their fundamental rights. Also the atmosphere of fear, caused by Madrid’s offensive over what Mayors called was the fulfillment of the election promise to the electorate to organise referendum on independence.

Each Mayor made an accent on the democratic process of Catalan independence movement, insisting it is a mature decision of people, a result of a long history, culture, achievements, and needs for public life, society organization based on Catalan unique identity. He also insisted there should be an agreement before the upcoming snap election to respect its outcome.

Concluding the event the President of self-proclaimed Catalan Republic Carles Puigdemont gave a programme speech, analysing the situation, and calling the EU leaders to listen to the will of people, protecting fundamental rights of the Catalan people.

Puigdemont called for immediate liberation of all political prisoners in Spain, pointing that the precedent of jailing politicians over fulfilment of the election programme they were voted for brings the democracy in danger not only in Catalonia, but in entire EU. He pointed that it is “anomaly” in Europe to have a territory with suppressed democratic institutions.

From congregation Puigdemont addressed president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, demanding to defend the fundamental rights of Catalans, reminding him that they are also European citizens.

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