Spanish state’s human rights violations highlighted in heart of Europe

Yesterday morning, a mock prison that is the key element of an action known as “A people imprisoned” was set up in Schuman Square in Brussels. Within the framework of the “Solidarity with Catalonia” campaign, the initiative seeks to highlight Spain’s violations of fundamental rights, including the right to self-determination, and the resulting repression of all those who seek to exercise that right, which has led to the existence of political prisoners in 21st-century Spain and forced others into exile.

The organizations behind the initiative – the Osona and Brussels branches of the Catalan National Assembly, Òmnium Cultural Osona and CDR Alt Ter – left the Catalan city of Vic on Sunday and, after travelling for two days, set up the installation in Schuman Square yesterday morning, right in front of the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels.

A fundamental and universal right
The installation remained in the Square throughout the day to underscore that self-determination is a fundamental and universal right recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In her presentation at the event, Elisenda Paluzie, the president of the Catalan National Assembly, noted that the Spanish state signed and ratified this key international human rights treaty but has now violated its provisions.

President Carles Puigdemont, who also participated in the event, said that the government he headed did what the Catalan people were asking them to do: allow a vote on Catalonia’s political status based on a universal right. Puigdemont stressed that half the government is now in prison and the other half has had to go into exile, asking whether this was really Europe in 2018.

Other participants in the event included Josep Valtònyc, a musician in exile to escape prosecution by the Spanish state for his song lyrics; Adrià Carrasco, an exiled activist facing prosecution for his participation in peaceful protests; and MEPs who are members of the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform: Jordi Solé, Ramon Tremosa, Mark Demesmaeker, Izaskun Bilbao, Josu Juaristi, Ana Miranda and Ivo Vagjl.

A people imprisoned
The “A people imprisoned” action was launched in November 2017 following the imprisonment of civil society leaders and members of the Catalan government for organizing a self-determination referendum on 1 October, a response that demonstrates the judicial, political and police siege that the Spanish state has mounted against the independence movement.

Since 18 November, when the mock prison was set up for the first time, the installation has travelled to 17 municipalities throughout Catalonia, and 1500 participants have volunteered to spend time in the cells to highlight the violation of international rights by the Spanish state.