Barcelona erupts over the imprisonment of two of its pro-independence leaders.
A crowd of approximately 200,000 took to Barcelona’s famous boulevard, the Passeig de Graciato, to demand the release of two Catalan pro-independence leaders, who have been jailed without bail on charges of sedition.
Every day, the Spanish government gives us more reasons to continue the struggle
According to Al Jazeera, the protestors on Tuesday night (local time) chanted “Freedom for Sanchez and Cuixart”, in support of Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural and Jordi Sanchez of the National Catalan Assembly (ANC).
The pair were imprisoned in Madrid on Monday, and await a trial on charges of sedition in relation to their separatist organising efforts that could see them locked up for as many as of 15 years.
The men are alleged by the prosecution to have been heavily involved in organising a massive protest aimed at hindering a Guardia Civil investigation in Barcelona into the build-up for the October 1 referendum.
The Catalan government denounced the arrests and urged Madrid to release the men they consider to be political prisoners.
EU needs to step in
The Catalan government is pleading for the European Union to intervene. Spokesman Jordi Turull said the imprisonment of the two men was “an attack on fundamental rights” that the EU had a duty to protect.
Josep Costa, a professor of political science at Barcelona’s Universitat Pompeu Fabra, said the imprisonment marked “another episode showing the complete breakdown of rule of law in Spain”.
“It’s the government filing the charges and seeking the imprisonment of political opponents.”
Jordi Graupera, a Catalan author and postdoctoral researcher at Princeton, agreed: “They are political prisoners. They are being punished for being successful in their peaceful resistance strategy,” he told Al Jazeera.
A supporter of Catalonia’s bid for independence, Joan Folch, said he was outraged by the imprisonment of the pro-independence leaders.
“Every day, the Spanish government gives us more reasons to continue the struggle.”
Octavi Martin, 39, added: “We’re tired of negotiating with Spain. Independence is irreversible. We’re prepared to resist Madrid – non-violently – longer than Madrid can repress us.”
For more background on Catalonia’s move toward independence, read here.