Cat­alo­nia cri­sis:

EU sav­aged for de­fend­ing Span­ish vi­o­lence as ral­lies call for ‘peace’ talks

Sunday Herald - - NEWS -

SE­NIOR SNP MSP Alex Neil has ac­cused the EU of sup­port­ing “un­war­ranted bru­tal­ity and vi­o­lence” by the Span­ish po­lice against Cata­lans. Neil – who voted for Brexit – spoke of his “deep dis­ap­point­ment and con­cern” at the re­sponse from Brussels to the crack­down on the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum.

He said the EU was “tar­nished” by a fail­ure to crit­i­cise “vi­o­lent at­tacks on pro-in­de­pen­dence vot­ers” dur­ing clashes with po­lice. The ex-Cab­i­net min­is­ter said Brussels now faces a “lit­mus test” on whether it speaks out over hu­man rights con­cerns.

More than 800 peo­ple are re­ported to have been in­jured af­ter riot po­lice smashed their way into polling sta­tions, beat­ing vot­ers and re­mov­ing bal­lot boxes. Neil con­demned re­marks from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion First Vice-President Frans Tim­mer­mans who sided with the gov­ern­ment in Madrid. Tim­mer­mans said the Span­ish gov­ern­ment’s “pro­por­tion­ate use of force” in Cat­alo­nia was nec­es­sary to up­hold the rule of law. In a mo­tion lodged at Holy­rood, Neil says: “The Par­lia­ment ex­presses its deep dis­ap­point­ment and con­cern at the fail­ure of the Euro­pean Union to de­fend the fun­da­men­tal civil rights of the peo­ple of Cat­alo­nia in re­spect of the vi­o­lent at­tacks on pro-in­de­pen­dence vot­ers and res­i­dents by the Span­ish au­thor­i­ties. In par­tic­u­lar the Par­lia­ment con­demns the com­ments of the EU Com­mis­sion First Vice-President Frans Tim­mer­mans when he sup­ported the un­war­ranted bru­tal­ity and vi­o­lence of the Span­ish po­lice against Cat­alo­nian cit­i­zens try­ing to ex­er­cise their demo­cratic right to vote in the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum.”

Last night, an EU spokesper­son when con­tacted by the Sun­day Her­ald said its po­si­tion had al­ready been set out by Tim­mer­mans. Mean­while, thou­sands have ral­lied in Madrid and Barcelona call­ing on Span­ish and Cata­lan lead­ers to be­gin talks. Cat­alo­nia’s re­gional president, Car­les Puigde­mont, has vowed that he will push for sep­a­ra­tion af­ter last Sun­day’s dis­puted ref­er­en­dum on se­ces­sion was won by in­de­pen­dence cam­paign­ers. He is be­lieved to be pre­par­ing to make an an­nounce­ment on Tues­day. Span­ish prime min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy has promised that Cat­alo­nia will not se­cede. Pro­test­ers packed Barcelona’s Sant Jaume Square where the Cata­lan gov­ern­ment has its pres­i­den­tial palace, shout­ing “We want to talk!” and hold­ing signs say­ing “More Ne­go­ti­a­tion, Less Testos­terone!” and “Talk or Re­sign!”

The gath­er­ing around Madrid’s Ci­beles foun­tain boasted a huge ban­ner de­mand­ing that the lead­ers start talk­ing. There was a sep­a­rate rally in Colon Square where thou­sands hold­ing Span­ish flags clam­oured for the unity of Spain. Ten­sions al­most boiled over when a small group of peo­ple wav­ing Span­ish flags, ap­par­ently from the pro-union rally, be­gan shout­ing at peo­ple at the pro­di­a­logue rally. Po­lice quickly moved in to sep­a­rate the two groups.

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