Scottish delegates to Catalonia detained amid chaos of Spanish crackdown

Two pro-Catalan activists held at airport by Spanish authorities

TWO SCOTTISH MEMBERS of an international delegation to Catalonia were detained in Catalonia’s Reus Airport by Guardia Civil officers because of their support for the embattled Catalan independence referendum.

Tam Wilson, a member of the Scottish Socialist Party and a candidate in May’s Scottish council elections, and Marty Smith of the SNP Socialists, were held, searched and questioned by Spanish authorities regarding their support for Catalan self-determination, as well as their other political views.

Both activists were members of an international delegation hosted by the anti-capitalist pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party defending the democratic right of the Catalan people to vote in Sunday’s referendum.

“Officers approached us aggressively and demanded they look through our bags and read our notebooks, questioning anything political.” Tam Wilson, former SSP candidate and Scottish delegate to Catalonia

Following his detainment, Wilson said: “As soon as they saw my Catalan badge at passport control, you could tell we were going to be singled out.

“Officers approached us aggressively and demanded they look through our bags and read our notebooks, questioning anything political and why we were here, including why I had a pro-Palestine sticker on my phone.”

“The Guardia Civil who detained us demanded we speak to them in Catalan.” Marty Smith, SNP Socialists activist and Scottish delegate to Catalonia

Smith said: “The Guardia Civil who detained us demanded we speak to them in Catalan and demanded to know why we couldn't speak Catalan but wore the flag of the republic.”

The Spanish authorities and the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have received worldwide criticism for the brutality of the attempts to prevent yesterday’s embattled referendum. The crackdown has resulted in a reported 893 injuries, with Spanish authorities raiding polling stations and employing rubber bullets and riot control against those wishing to vote.

“Spain is a close ally and a good friend, whose strength and unity matter to us.” UK Foreign Office statement

In response to these events, the UK Foreign Office released a statement emphasising its support for the position of the Spanish Government, saying: “The referendum is a matter for the Spanish government and people. We want to see Spanish law and the Spanish constitution respected and the rule of law upheld. Spain is a close ally and a good friend, whose strength and unity matter to us.”

The statement was quickly condemned by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who wrote on Twitter: “Statement from @foreignoffice on #Catalonia is shamefully weak. A true friend of Spain would tell them today’s actions wrong and damaging.”

 

 

Responding to news of the detentions, SSP national co-chair Calum Martin told CommonSpace: “The detention of activists from Scotland was a clear illustration of how keen the Spanish Government are to deter the world from seeing the violence and suppression of the referendum they’ve been inflicting upon Catalonia.

“If the UK is really keen to ‘export democracy’, now is the time.” Calum Martin, SSP national co-chair

“It’s a reminder of how important it is to continue to lobby the UK Foreign Office to replace their woeful statement on Catalonia with a much better stance.

“The whole situation in Catalonia is rapidly becoming an international question of democracy.

“If the UK is really keen to ‘export democracy’, now is the time.”

Picture courtesy of Ratko Jagodic

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