Since escaping the terror attack on La Ramblas last year, I have developed a strong affinity to Catalonia. In March, I began to represent the Catalan academic Professor Clara Ponsati in response to Spain’s attempt to extradite her.
Last week before the launch of the book ‘Battle of the Exile’, I gave my opinion on the current political situation in El Punt Avui, the Catalan daily newspaper.
Although it is written in Catalan, I will provide a brief summary of the most pertinent points in my interview here.
Firstly, I made the point that Europe has turned its back on the struggles of Catalonia and is allowing Spain to take a dictatorial approach to the political desires of a people for independence.
If this kind of political oppression was to take place in Russia, the middle-east, or Africa, then our politicians would be quick to denounce it for what it is; undemocratic subjugation.
However, EU members have turned their backs on the struggle of the Catalan people despite the fact it is taking place on our doorstep in the heart of Western Europe.
The violence imposed upon voters in Catalonia exercising their legitimate right to vote by the Spanish police is horrifying, whereas in Scotland we took it for granted that we could carry out our referendum in peace.
In a matter so fundamental to freedom and the democratic process, silence is not an option; either you are in favour of the democratic right to vote, or you are against it. Europe’s silence is a betrayal of our core values and sets a dangerous precedent for the struggles of minorities in the future.
The second main point that I discuss in the interview is that Catalonia must act now and seize the momentum of their vote for independence. The battle is far from over and the passing of time only aids Spain in their mission to keep control of the region.
In a country where 9 out of 11 of the past presidents have been jailed, exiled, or executed, we know that Spain will not willingly relinquish control of Catalonia.
As political prisoners remain in jail awaiting trial by the Spanish government for their role in the independence vote last year, the independence parties in Catalonia have to lead and provide a strategy.
So far, everything has been focused on the political prisoners, and their forthcoming trial, which is understandable and of course is an emotional response. However, it is also what the Spanish state desires as the Catalans are focusing on the aftermath rather than the solution.
Whether they take to the streets in protest, organise region-wide strikes, or partake in some other form of peaceful demonstration, the political leadership must build on the momentum they have worked so hard to gain while showing the political prisoners that they are not alone.
As the recent hunger strike by some of the political prisoners has shown, support for them is huge, and the people want action. But, the Spanish government has managed to distract from the very reason that they were placed in jail in the first place – ‘Independence’.
I would encourage you to read the full article here. Although it is written in Catalan, you should persevere with Google Translate which does a reasonably good job.