On Monday, October 14, the Spanish Supreme Court announced the prison sentences for the nine Catalan civic and political leaders, with edicts that go from 13 years of jail for the former vice president of the Catalan government, to 9 years for the civil society leaders such as the presidents of the Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium cultural. In total, these represent an accumulate of 100 years in prison.
The massive civic protests that have followed have been met with unprecedented violence by police forces. The Spanish government has deployed several thousand police officers in Catalonia, including the paramilitary Guardia Civil, in order to keep repressing the pro-independence movement.
In light of these events, the Catalan National Assembly states the following:
- We condemn the use of rubber bullets and tear gas by the Spanish police. These are weapons that can cause significant harm to people, as organizations such as Human Rights Watch have warned. In the case of rubber bullets, these are also forbidden weapons in the territory of Catalonia, as per legislation passed by the Catalan parliament in 2013.
- We call on governments and international organizations to denounce the use of extreme violence by riot police officers. Some voices have already risen to face the repression, such as Slovenian Prime Minister, Marjan Šarec, or Amnesty International. According to the Catalan Ministry of Health there have already been 579 injured due to police violence, 14 of which are hospitalized. Of these, a young woman has critical injuries, 5 of them have severe ones, 5 moderate and 3 minor. Four persons have lost an eye due to the indiscriminate use of rubber bullets by the Spanish police.
- We condemn the detention of 194 people, many of them in arbitrary and irregular arrests, with 28 sent to pretrial imprisonment by October 20th under the charges of defying of authority and civil disorder. The majority of the arrested are between 18 and 25 years old. These detentions represent a new abuse and yet another serious violation of fundamental rights against the Catalan people, especially the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
- Furthermore, there are the 7 pro-independence activists in pretrial detention since September 23rd, accused of terrorism for the possession of possibly harmful materials, which are common and normally used to create fireworks for local festivities. The lawyer association Alerta Solidària has warned that at least two of the detained have been in solitary confinement in the Soto del Real prison in Madrid, under strict restrictions and surveillance, a punitive and blatant violation of their rights.
- We join the International Press Institute and the Catalan Media Observatory – MediaCat in expressing our concern at the police aggressions against journalists covering the developments in Catalonia, with a result of 59 injured and 1 detained, and we urge the Catalan and Spanish authorities to respect the freedom of press and to protect them.
- We express our concern at the violation of the right to freedom of expression through the closure of websites by the Spanish courts, such as that maintained by the civil initiative Tsunami Democràtic, a decision that has been condemned by the European Commission.
- Finally, we call on the international community, governments, representatives, civil society and NGOs to denounce these facts and the multiple violations of fundamental rights against the Catalans, and to place pressure on the Spanish authorities so they respect the right to self-determination of the Catalan people and accept political negotiation in terms of such rights as the only possible democratic and peaceful way to solve the current conflict.
Barcelona, 21 October 2019
Catalan National Assembly