The Speaker of the Flemish Parliament declared that the Spanish government “is incapable of fulfilling the conditions to form part of a democratic Europe” and that the violence meted out against the Catalan referendum of 1 October 2017 was the expression of “anti-democratic politics.”
Elisenda Paluzie, the President of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), today visited Brussels in order to denounce, once again, Spain’s violations of human rights: first, in a speech at the European Parliament; and later, at the opening of an exhibition of photographs at the Flemish Parliament, accompanied by the Parliament’s Speaker, Jan Peumans, and by the President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont.
Her speech at the European Parliament, entitled “The Right to Self-Determination: Finding Ways to Advance within the EU Framework,” had been arranged by Catalan and Basque MEPs in collaboration with UNPO (the Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization), the Greens/EFA European parliamentary group, Alde, the European United Left and the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform. It was attended by a number of MEPs, amongst them Josep-Maria Terricabras, Ramon Tremosa, Jordi Solé, Ana Miranda, Izaskun Bilbao, Ivo Vajgl, Mario Brghezio and Jill Evans.
The President of the ANC declared that, if Spain refuses to recognise Catalonia’s right to self-determination, it is flagrantly violating international accords to which it is a signatory.
Turning a Right into a Crime
Paluzie noted that referendums are recognised as the mechanism whereby self-determination is exercised. In the case of Catalonia, Spain has used force against voters who were attempting to exert that right, thereby clearly violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which includes the right to freedom of speech, of assembly and of taking part in public affairs.
In addition, Paluzie pointed out that Spain has gone “a step further” by imprisoning political and community leaders on the basis of “trumped-up charges,” such as rebellion for taking part in organising a referendum which – if Spain respected its constitutional duty – should have been recognised as “completely legal” and legitimate, instead of turning a right into a crime, as it has done.
Paluzie ended by calling on the EU to work for a coherent solution for the right to self-determination. Whereas, in the 1990s, the Baltic states were helped to seek their independence, today Catalonia is met with silence when its human rights are denied by Spain.
Peumans Questions the Role of the Spanish Government
Later in the day Paluzie took part in the opening of the exhibition “De Stembusrevolutie” (“The Revolt of the Ballot Boxes”), put on in the Flemish Parliament.
In his speech, the Speaker of the Flemish Parliament, Jan Peumans, stated that he had written to Carme Forcadell, the ex-Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, declaring that the Spanish government “is incapable of fulfilling the conditions to form part of a democratic Europe” and that the violence meted out against the Catalan referendum of 1 October 2017 was the expression of “anti-democratic politics.” He therefore regarded it as “unacceptable” that she should be in jail simply for having tried to exercise a democratic right.
For his part, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who was also present, observed that Judge Llarena, who had brought the case against the political prisoners and exiles, had spent a very long time interfering in the working of the Catalan Parliament.
Bernard Daelemans (an active member of VVB and ICEC Vlaanderen), Pere Jordi Junqué (of the Brussels branch of the ANC), and MP Jan Van Esbroeck (N-VA) were also present.
The Revolt of the Ballot Boxes
As Carles B. Gorbs explained, the exhibition aims to show and describe “a peaceful, democratic revolt,” following the Catalan independence process from its beginnings in 2009 – with the informal ballot at Arenys de Munt on 13 September 2009 – up to the present, including such key events as the huge annual mass demonstrations on Catalonia’s national day (11 September) in which millions of people come out onto the streets demanding independence for Catalonia, and culminating in the referendum on self-determination on 1 October 2017.
The exhibition will be open until 20 October in the “Zuilenzaal” of the Flemish Parliament.