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