MEPs call for release of Catalan political prisoners on hunger strike

Four pro-independence Catalan leaders imprisoned for their role in the 2017 referendum began their hunger strike last week

DOZENS of MEPs have called upon the Spanish state to release Catalan political prisoners with all charges dropped, as four of the jailed leaders continue with a hunger strike.

On 1 December, Jordi Sànchez, former head of the influential pro-independence grassroots Catalan National Assembly, and Jordi Turull, a former Catalan Government representative, announced the beginning of their hunger strike in Lledoners prison, accusing Spain’s constitutional court of deliberately blocking their multiple appeals in order to keep their cases from progressing to the European court of human rights.

A statement from the pair read: “We ask for an impartial and diligent constitutional court, which should not impede the exercise of our rights.

"We call for the complete end of this anomaly in the European Union, where nine political prisoners and five exiles are deemed free citizens in all Member States but their own, Spain.” Manifesto of EU-Catalonia dialogue platform

“We do not ask the constitutional court for any special treatment. But we do not passively accept any discrimination or unwarranted procrastination.”

Yesterday [December 4], some 40 MEPs belonging to the EU-Catalonia dialogue platform showed their support for the striking prisoners with a new manifesto, published as Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent visits Brussels.

The manifesto expresses their “solidarity to support the Catalan political prisoners for their struggle for freedom and the defense of human rights and shows its solidarity and its total admiration towards this peaceful act of protest."

"We call for the complete end of this anomaly in the European Union, where nine political prisoners and five exiles are deemed free citizens in all Member States but their own, Spain", the text also reads.

READ MORE: Delegation of UK MPs meet with Catalan political prisoners

Speaking to press, the president of the EU-Catalonia dialogue platform, Ivo Vajgl, described the matter as "a moral question" and called on the EU to take action, saying: "It is the ultimate duty of democratic Europe to listen to this call.”

The imprisonment of the Catalan activists and politicians have also been condemned by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), which has called for the prisoners’ immediate release and for the arrest warrants issued against Catalan politicians currently in exile to be withdrawn.

It has been reported that a number of orchestrated “public fasting” protests will take place across Catalonia this week in support of the hunger strikers, with the National newspaper reporting that such demonstrations will be  held in the abbey at Montserrat, Cornella and the Catalan capital of Barcelona, as well as a possible further action tomorrow – Constitution Day in Catalonia – which marks the anniversary of the 1978 referendum that led to the current constitution.

Jordi Turull, now on the fourth day of his hunger strike, said in an interview with the RAC1 radio station today that he is coping well, although he was concerned after hearing that it was dangerous for hunger strikers to be alone.

"And I spend 14 hours a day alone," Turull added.

“Pedro Sanchez is taking small steps to try to appease Catalan autonomists while also keeping political prisoners in jail and exile. He is pleasing and fooling no one.” Catalan Defence Committee Scotland statement

Speaking to CommonSpace, a spokesperson for the Catalan Defence Committee Scotland commented: “As political prisoners languish in jail and begin hunger striking while cross-country MEPs call on EU institutions to seek justice and a recognised referendum, it is clear that the campaign for Catalan self-determination is not going away.

“Pedro Sanchez is taking small steps to try to appease Catalan autonomists while also keeping political prisoners in jail and exile. He is pleasing and fooling no one.

“No matter what he does to make himself appear marginally better than Rajoy, pressure is mounting on the Spanish state in general and so does the pressure for international intervention. He must deliver a referendum.

“For any meaningful intervention to take place, it will require a backbone from the Commission or for other European institutions to force action. If there is such a thing as European values now is the time to prove it.”

Picture courtesy of Adolfo Lujan

HELP US BUILD A COMMON FUTURE TOGETHER: Support our work at allofusfirst.org/donate