October 1, 2017
Police clashed with voters outside a polling station in Barcelona’s Guinardo Market, Sunday, as voters lined up to cast their votes in an independence referendum the Spanish government had deemed illegal.
At least 38 people have reportedly sustained injuries as clashes between voters and security forces escalated, with reports of rubber pellets and batons used against protesters.
Referendum supporters have braced for a contentious day, following crackdowns by Spanish authorities on polling stations, arrests of Catalan officials and the suspension of the vote by Spain’s Constitutional Court over the last weeks.
More than 5 million Catalans are expected to cast their votes in more than 2,000 polling stations across Catalonia, with more than 200 stations in Barcelona alone.
A man waves an estelada, or Catalonia independence flag, during a gathering at Plaza Catalonia in Barcelona on the day of the referendum. Photograph: Emilio Morenatti/AP
The Spanish government’s attempted suppression of Catalonia’s independence referendum by brute force has raised urgent questions for fellow EU members about Spain’s adherence to democratic norms, 42 years after the death of the fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. Charles Michel, Belgium’s prime minister, spoke for many in Europe when he tweeted: “Violence can never be the answer!”
Madrid’s pugnacious stance, while widely condemned as a gross and shameful over-reaction, has nevertheless sent a problematic message to would-be secessionists everywhere. It is that peaceful campaigns in line with the UN charter’s universal right to self-determination, campaigns that eschew violence and rely on conventional political means, are ultimately doomed to fail. In other words, violence is the only answer. Sorry, Charles.
Catalonia vows to go to intl. courts, calls on EU sanctions against Spain for referendum violence
1 Oct, 2017
Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain October 1, 2017 © Juan Medina / Reuters
Catalan ministers have announced they are pursuing international justice following the Spanish government’s crackdown on voters in the Catalonia independence referendum.
Announcing a two pronged response strategy, officials added that a process to institute anti-Madrid sanctions in the EU is already underway.
“We will initiate formalities to activate the mechanisms of sanctions… We think that the actions of the Spanish state that the whole world is witnessing, put the image of the EU as a guarantor of democracy and human rights at risk,” Catalan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Raul Romeva told a news conference in Barcelona Sunday.
Catalan officials have initiated contact with various EU institutions, including the European Parliament and the European Commission, along with representatives of EU member states “in order to launch measures to penalize and control” Madrid, he added.
The minister referred to the EU’s Article 7, a law that can suspend a member state’s voting rights and impose sanctions on a country believed to have fundamentally violated human rights.
Having accused Spanish authorities of such violations, another Catalan government official, Jordi Turull told reporters that Madrid should be held accountable in international courts for its actions during the poll.
“We’ve talked about rubber bullets [used by Spanish police]. Now we’ve also learned about tear gas. What police is doing is real barbarity, a true international scandal,” Turull thundered.
Catalan authorities announced that hundreds were injured during the plebiscite, deemed illegal by Madrid. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also joined in the condemnation of Spanish police, calling on them to “refrain from excessive use of force.”
— Kartik Raj (@Kartik__Raj) October 1, 2017