Jailed separatists’ re­lease urged

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Cat­alo­nia se­ces­sion­ists protest

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - WORLD - By Joseph Wil­son

BARCELONA, Spain — Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple back­ing Cat­alo­nia’s bid to se­cede from Spain packed the streets in down­town Barcelona on Satur­day to de­mand the re­lease of jailed sep­a­ratist lead­ers.

The rally’s grass­roots or­ga­niz­ers called for 10 prom­i­nent mem­bers of the se­ces­sion­ist move­ment in the north­east­ern Span­ish re­gion to be freed from prison.

Eight for­mer mem­bers of Cat­alo­nia’s dis­solved Cab­i­net and two ac­tivists are in jail while Span­ish au­thor­i­ties in­ves­ti­gate their al­leged roles in pro­mot­ing an il­le­gal dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence last month in vi­o­la­tion of Spain’s Con­sti­tu­tion.

A sep­a­rate court in Madrid granted bail on Thurs­day to an­other six Cata­lan law­mak­ers also be­ing in­ves­ti­gated over the se­ces­sion push.

“We want to tell the world that we want free­dom for our pris­on­ers and free­dom for Cat­alo­nia,” Agusti Al­coberro, the vice pres­i­dent of grass­roots group Na­tional Cata­lan As­sem­bly, told the crowd in Barcelona, the re­gion’s cap­i­tal.

Barcelona’s po­lice said 750,000 peo­ple at­tended the rally.

Many of the pro­test­ers car­ried pro-in­de­pen­dence “es­te­lada” flags, with its white star and blue tri­an­gle su­per­im­posed over the tra­di­tional red-and-yel­low Cata­lan col­ors. Many also held signs say­ing in Cata­lan “Free­dom Po­lit­i­cal Pris­on­ers” and wore yel­low rib­bons as a sym­bol of their de­mands.

“They (Span­ish au­thor­i­ties) are vi­o­lat­ing many rights of free­dom against our peo­ple and we come here to say that we are against that and to de­mand the re­lease of our pris­on­ers who are in prison un­justly,” said 30-year-old en­gi­neer Joan Car­les Roses.

Fam­ily mem­bers of the jailed separatists read mes­sages from their loved ones to the crowd at the con­clu­sion of the march.

Also on Satur­day, the pro-in­de­pen­dence Repub­lic Left party an­nounced that its jailed leader Oriol Jun­queras will be its top can­di­date for the up­com­ing re­gional elec­tions on Dec. 21.

The Cata­lan party is in­clud­ing other jailed lead­ers in its list for the re­gional par­lia­ment. Polls show that Repub­lic Left is fa­vored to win the up­com­ing bal­lot, al­though it won’t se­cure an out­right ma­jor­ity.

The Cata­lan con­flict is the worst con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis to threaten Spain in nearly four decades.

The Span­ish Con­sti­tu­tion says the na­tion is “in­di­vis­i­ble” and that ques­tions of na­tional sovereignty should be ad­dressed by the na­tional Par­lia­ment in Madrid.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.