There’s a trend of resorting to state unity, national interest and national security to falsely justify repressive policies such as prohibiting free speech and expression, targeted arrests and detention, broad state propaganda and policy that labels activists as terrorists to try to silence democratic self-determination movements. A report by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) highlights how governments around the world, especially undemocratic ones, are influenced by the Spanish government’s repressive response to Catalonia’s independence movement.

In that regard, Catalonia has seen a clear deterioration in human rights, especially after the repression inflicted by Spanish authorities during and after the October 1st independence referendum. Their attempt to quash Catalonia’s self-determination movement has weakened freedoms of press, speech, opinion, association, and assembly, the rights to liberty and security, and the right to a fair trial. The attempt to disqualify and criminalize Catalonia’s democratic struggle has led to arrests of politicians, journalists, public figures and community activists, including former Assemblea presidents.

This disproportionate response by Spain sets a dangerous precedent for human rights defenders worldwide, as it has provided undemocratic countries with a justification to implement similar repressive tools against self-determination movements, such as the Kurds, the Crimean Tartars and the Tibetans, and others by states including Iran, Russia, and China.

Read the full Report