The maximum necessary political trial in Catalonia’s fresh historical past is ready to start in Madrid. The trial is in opposition to participants of the previous govt of Catalonia, the speaker of the Catalan parliament at the moment and the leaders of Catalonia’s two biggest pro-independence civil society teams.
Those people shall be prosecuted for having organised Catalonia’s referendum on self-determination on 1 October 2017. The costs, introduced by way of the general public prosecutor’s workplace and by way of the far-right Vox celebration representing the personal accusation, are some of the maximum critical of the ones envisaged by way of the Spanish prison code: rebel, misappropriation of public price range and civil disobedience.
There are 12 defendants – 9 have already spent many months in jail. 4 of them had been imprisoned for over 12 months. They is also sentenced to between 10 and 25 years in prison.
When, in September 2016, I introduced to the parliament of Catalonia that the method of resolving the Catalan factor used to be “a referendum or a referendum”, I used to be committing myself to 2 premises that we have got seen unfailingly: first, that Catalonia’s destiny should be made up our minds by way of its personal electorate via a referendum, and 2d, that this is able to most effective be resolved by way of non violent, democratic measures. No longer probably the most other folks being prosecuted on this trial, nor any of the ones in exile, have deviated a millimetre from this dedication.
That referendum used to be a luck in relation to participation, organisation and civically minded behaviour. It used to be a democratic luck and an afternoon that can by no means be erased from our recollections. Round 2.three million of Catalonia’s five.three million registered citizens – 43% – took section within the referendum, and 92% of members sponsored independence.
Folks of all ages and beliefs from each nook of Catalonia got here in combination to make imaginable one thing that Spain didn’t, and does no longer, need whatsoever: to determine the need of the folk about their very own long term. The chain of unity and self-organisation that made the referendum imaginable used to be an admirable instance of the facility that society can wield when confronted with a commonplace and shared purpose in accordance with the very important values of democracy.
On the other hand, regardless of the civic and non violent nature of the referendum, and to the dismay of the hundreds of thousands of people that went to vote, the Spanish govt made up our minds to show to violence. Hundreds of cops, despatched from quite a lot of issues of Spain, motivated and incited by way of the cry of “let’s move get them!”, launched into unheard of acts of aggression in opposition to a relaxed, non-violent civil inhabitants. Regardless of this strange police effort – which price €90m – neither the poll containers might be discovered nor the referendum averted. Nonetheless, it left an open wound that won’t heal for generations. On most sensible of that, Spain unleashed a wave of repression and risk to our freedoms that continues nowadays, to which the Catalan other folks have spoke back in the similar means they did in October 2017: lightly, peacefully and democratically. I’m satisfied that most effective by way of ultimate this open wound and finishing the repression will the stipulations be created for the solution of this warfare.
The trial will reveal, amongst different issues, that an workout observed in different portions of the sector as completely appropriate and praiseworthy – there were independence referendums for Scotland, Quebec and New Caledonia – is seen in Spain as a heinous crime. On the similar time, it’s going to spotlight the fragility of Spanish democracy and the being worried politicisation of the justice device. The principle speculation is a brilliant fallacy: for the reason that crime of rebel calls for the usage of violence, and the violence used to be most effective utilized by the police power, the general public prosecutor’s workplace and the Vox celebration intend to persuade the courtroom that this violence used to be in fact the direct accountability of the federal government of Catalonia. This case is not anything new: on 12 April 1963, a gaggle of monks despatched a public letter to Martin Luther King Jr criticising the Birmingham marketing campaign, which fought for human rights and in opposition to segregation. On that very same day, King used to be arrested at the rate of getting violated the regulation in opposition to demonstrations. From jail he wrote an extended letter in reaction – a paragraph from it serves let’s say the location through which all our persecuted and imprisoned colleagues in finding themselves:
“For your remark you say that our movements, even supposing non violent, should be condemned as a result of they precipitate violence. However is that this a logical statement? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed guy as a result of his ownership of cash brought on the evil act of theft? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates as a result of his dependable dedication to fact and his philosophical inquires brought on the act by way of the inaccurate populace through which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus as a result of his distinctive God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God’s will brought on the evil act of crucifixion? We should come to look that, because the federal courts have persistently affirmed, it’s mistaken to induce a person to stop his efforts to realize his elementary constitutional rights for the reason that quest might precipitate violence. Society should give protection to the robbed and punish the robber.”
This trial is a large mistake that makes a political result much more tricky. Changing political answers with the prison code, giving prominence to judges and politicians as an alternative of governments and parliaments, has been probably the most colossal mistakes dedicated by way of Spain. This present day the trial is ready to start, it is very important to ship a message to the democrats of the sector who’re inquisitive about this authoritarian leaning, and to the folk of Catalonia specifically.
Regardless of the repression, and regardless of the chronic refusal of Spain to take made up our minds steps against resolving the warfare, our place stays as resolute because it at all times has been: to uphold political discussion, from a viewpoint of acknowledgement and mutual appreciate, as the one means ahead in family members between Catalonia and Spain, respectively loose and respectively sovereign. By no means below any instances has violence been an possibility for us, nor will it ever be – now we have been sufferers of violence and now we have suffered from it, however so far as we’re involved peace and non-violence are very important parts of Catalan society, a various and harmonious society this is the results of consistent migratory processes of which we’re the offspring. A society through which the ones people who undergo accountability will function we at all times have performed: with a way of loyalty and dedication.
The Catalans are a dignified other folks and need to be handled with dignity – like the entire different peoples of the sector who’re preventing for his or her sovereignty, to whom we ship our fraternal affection.
• Carles Puigdemont is the previous Catalan president