‘Self-determination is a right’: Solidarity protests mobilised across Scotland as Catalan trial begins

12 Catalan politicians face trial for their involvement in the 2017 independence referendum

  • Simultaneous rallies in support of Catalan political prisoners to take place in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen on Tuesday [12 February] evening
  • First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says that the future of Catalonia “should be decided through the ballot box, not in the courts”
  • Catalan President Quim Torra hints at a second independence vote, should the defendants be convicted

SIMULTANEOUS rallies across Scotland will join with similar demonstrations internationally against “the repressive action of the Spanish state”, as the trial of pro-independence Catalan leaders begins today [12 February] in Madrid.

With the long-awaited trial now underway, 12 Catalan politicians and grassroots campaigners face charges rebellion and sedition for their involvement in the disputed republic’s 2017 independence referendum.

In Scotland, where expressions of solidarity with Catalonia’s independence has been widespread and vocal for several years, demonstrations in support of the Catalan political prisoners will take place in several cities this evening.

Organised by ANC Scotland and supported by the Catalan Defence Committee Scotland, the protests join with the international ‘Make a Move’ campaign, which will see similar demonstrations across Catalonia, Spain and the rest of the world, under the slogan ‘Self-determination is a right, not a crime.’

In a statement issued ahead of the protests – which will take place at 6pm in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – ANC Scotland said: “This is going to be a political trial where the elected representatives of Catalan society are being judged to allow all Catalan people to vote for their future.”

“These trials of elected politicians should concern all democrats. The future of Catalonia should be decided through the ballot box, not in the courts.” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Elsewhere in Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – who has met several times with Catalan president Quim Torra - responded to the start of the trial by expressing her support for the Catalan defendants.

Writing on Twitter, Sturgeon said: “These trials of elected politicians should concern all democrats. The future of Catalonia should be decided through the ballot box, not in the courts. I am sending my best wishes today to the Catalan President and those facing trial. Let’s hope the process is demonstrably fair.”

Also today, SNP MSP Sandra White lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament echoing the first minister’s concerns, urging Holyrood to recognise that “the future of Catalonia is one that must be democratically taken by the people of Catalonia and their elected representatives.”

 

 

The trial, which is expected to last several months, will see the public prosecutor argue that the Catalan independence process was a preconceived conspiracy, begun by those on trial in 2012. It will encompass the pivotal events which followed, including the October 2017 vote which the Spanish Government and authorities sought to violently suppress, and the subsequent declaration of Catalonia as an independent republic by the Catalan Government.

The defendants include all members of the Catalan Government at the time of the 2017 referendum who did not escape Spanish jurisdiction, such as former vice president Oriol Junqueras, and former ministers Josep Rull, Jordi Turull, Dolors Bassa, Raül Romeva, Joaquim Forn, Meritxell Borràs, Carles Mundó and Santi Vila, all of whom have faced lengthy pre-trial detention.

READ MORE: Exclusive: Exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont tells CommonSpace the Spanish state must undergo 'de-Francoisation’

Carles Puigdemont, Torra’s predecessor as Catalan President, remains in exile, despite repeated attempts by the Spanish Government to extradite him. Speaking in Berlin this week, Puigdemont described the trial as both a “stress test for Spanish democracy” and “a test for Spain’s judiciary.”

Junqueras faces a potential 25 year sentence for the alleged crime of rebellion, while others accused of the same charge could receive sentences of 16-17 years. In November 2018, over 100 legal experts from across Spain signed an open letter condemning the use of the charge of rebellion against the Catalan leaders.

The trial’s opening session saw the defendants’ lawyers demand that the trial be temporarily suspended, due to violations of the defendants’ rights and lack of sufficient access to evidence admitted by the Supreme Court.

Catalan President Quim Torra, speaking to international press in Madrid yesterday, described Spanish justice as having “zero credibility” and once again condemned claims that the Catalan prisoners were responsible for the violence seen during the 2017 plebiscite, saying: “The only violence we saw throughout September and October was from the Spanish police.

“They tried to stop citizens from going to vote peacefully on 1 October. But this has all been turned on its head. There was no violence, everyone saw there was no violence.”

Torra, who arrived at the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid today to follow the opening of the trial, has also suggested that a new independence referendum may be called, should the defendants be convicted.

Picture courtesy of byron2

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