Last Friday, Tayssir Azouz, member of the Executive Council of the Assembly, participated in a debate/conference organized by the local Netherlands chapter of the ANC in Amsterdam on the situation that Catalonia is currently suffering and on its future. With the title, “Catalonië hoe nu verder?” Azouz explained, using several examples, how the independence movement is a peaceful, open, diverse, non-violent movement. In contrast with other processes of national emancipation, in Europe and throughout the world, the Catalan process is based on fully democratic and non-violent principles. For that reason, Azouz asked that movements as strong as the Catalan one not be looked down upon.
Azouz used his Amsterdam pulpit to call on European citizens to counteract the erosion of Spanish democracy. Indeed, he asked everyone to take personal responsability, since in 21st century Spain, the most fundamental rights are under attack. He listed several examples, like the teachers accused of hate crimes for having debates in their classrooms about the events that took place on October 1st, and he asked what school is good for if it is not for promoting debate and discussion.
Azouz also noted that two rappers have been convicted and sentenced to jail time, one of whom has gone into exile, just for the words of their songs. “It is all very worrying,” he said, and once again, he called on European citizens to stand up to the repression that citizens of the Spanish state are experiencing. “The Catalan crisis is a European crisis,” he added. In addition, Azouz pointed out that the Spanish State is holding political prisoners and he underscored that on December 21st, when the elections were held, but also today, there were elected leaders in jail, and he asked how it could be normal to deny the right of political representation to European citizens in the 21st century and how someone could be imprisoned for simply having allowed a political debate in the Parliament. He insisted that the prisoners should be released.
Finally, Azouz praised the Europe of fundamental rights and values, based on democracy and peace, and he noted that the republican project is based on fully democratic values, with the objective of establishing a new social contract. “The more we vote, the deeper our democracy will become,” he concluded.
At the end of the event there was public debate, on topics such as how the Catalan independence process affects the Netherlands, as well as how people think about the democratization of international governance and the importance of reinforcing basic democratic values like the freedom of expression and of assembly.
Click here to watch a video of the debate