The Spanish very best court’s decision to imprison nine democrats and civil society leaders for organising a referendum on self-determination in Catalonia marks a brand new section inside the warfare for independence. Catalans were calling at the government of Pedro Sánchez for more than a 12 months to intrude, and try and bring about a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Monday’s ruling is an escalation with a purpose to ignite anger right across the vicinity.
Answering the calls of extreme rightwing factors in Spain, the court docket imposed crushing prison phrases on 9 contributors of the authorities that I had the privilege to guide. I understand these humans well. They may be committed democrats, committed to the purpose of non violent democratic change to Spain’s fragile publish-Franco charter. They consist of the speaker of the Catalan parliament and the presidents of the 2 maximum critical non-partisan civil society organizations, Omnium and the ANC. They’re all pacifists and liberals.
Some individuals of the government, consisting of myself, determined to enter exile to escape the persecution, and for you to shield the rights of Catalans more efficaciously. If we had remained in Spain, as this judgment proves, we too might had been subjected to an unfair trial via a politicised judiciary, avoided from refuting the false accusations against us. As a substitute, we had been given sanctuary in different ecu countries, and guarded in opposition to Spain’s attempts to extradite us from Belgium, Germany and Scotland. Programs for our extradition had been refused or abandoned because the allegations are recognized as in simple terms political. Cutting-edge pluralistic democracies shield the right to political agency and the right to non violent political expression and association. Yet that is exactly what our 9 colleagues were imprisoned for. What Spain condemns, european democracy absolves.
The movements of the Spanish country, its authorities and its judiciary strike at the coronary heart of our democratic values on the very time that Europe desires them most. This may now not be appeared as an internal remember for Spain, or maybe the institutions of the european. It’s miles an international situation. In advance this yr, the case of the Catalan political prisoners changed into added to the United nations by using an global felony team led by Ben Emmerson quality control, a British global legal professional and former UN special rapporteur on human rights. In carefully reasoned choices, the UN working organization on Arbitrary Detention held that the pre-trial imprisonment of the nine politicians turned into a violation of international law and a clean breach of Spain’s legal duties below the global Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However the running organization went similarly than that. It held that the imposition of any sentences of imprisonment on the quit of the trial would violate worldwide law. It known as on Spain to release the prisoners without delay, and to conduct an independent investigation to perceive those public officers liable for the arbitrary detentions and to maintain them responsible. The rule of law required no less.
In preference to heeding that warning, the Spanish government set approximately disparaging the UN, accusing the running institution of bias and hard its selection. The ideally suited court proceeded to disregard the UN ruling and has now imposed sentences which might be designed to crush the Catalan independence movement – to break the people who had been earlier than the court docket and to instil worry inside the hundreds of thousands of folks who help them. This is the reality of current Spanish democracy.
The excellent courtroom allowed Vox, a neo-Francoist political celebration, to take an lively component within the criminal lawsuits and to question the defendants individually. The acute right in Spain successfully perceives Catalan independence events as a hazard. The political message at some stage in this procedure has been clean. This is the vintage Spain reasserting itself. By no means virtually dedicated to the human rights values of the Council of Europe and the ecu Union, darkish forces have started to claim themselves over again, with the full acquiescence of the government and the judiciary.
Years have exceeded for the reason that repression commenced, because the dissolution of a democratically elected parliament and the dismissal by means of decree of a central authority with a parliamentary majority. In all this time, there has no longer been a unmarried political notion put forward with the aid of the Spanish government as a constructive opportunity to the decision for full independence. After four elections in as many years, the Spanish authorities is incapable of adopting a coherent political position, and rather is backing itself into an increasingly determined nook.
However despite the continuing persecution of the independence motion, the pro-independence events in Catalonia won an remarkable degree of assist in the ecu parliament elections held in may also this 12 months. Over the direction of two years of repression, with humans in prison and exile, and residents afraid of the brute force of the nation, the pro-independence motion has grown ever stronger at the ballot box. It is a motion that now goes far beyond its political leadership. It spans the complete of Catalan society, and is rooted within the liberal subculture of democratic radicalism.
Monday’s judgment is a condemnation no longer of the person accused, but of greater than 2 million those who made the referendum a truth. The selection to imprison the political leadership for giving impact to the democratic will of the Catalan people will unavoidably backfire on Spain. There may be now handiest one viable direction that the Catalan kingdom can comply with. If Catalonia is to live on and to defend its institutions and culture, it should now become an independent state inside the shape of a republic. We will never back off.