Scottish Govt must condemn Spanish attack on right to self-determination, campaigners say on eve of Torra-Sturgeon meeting

Call from Scottish activists follows meeting between the Catalan President Quim Torra and new Spanish Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez

THE CATALAN DEFENCE COMMITTEE (CDC) SCOTLAND has called on the Scottish and UK Governments, as well as opposition parties, to apply political pressure to the Spanish Government to endorse a recognised referendum on Catalan independence, on the even of new Catalan President Quim Torra meeting First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh.

In a statement released today [10 July], the solidarity group characterised the UK Government’s current silence on Spanish human rights abuses during the Catalan independence referendum of October 2017 as a ploy to secure favourable deals with the EU in the aftermath of Brexit.

The statement comes ahead of a meeting on Wednesday between the new Catalan President Quim Torra, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and the political exile and St Andrews academic Clara Ponsati, who is threatened with extradition to Spain due to her involvement in Catalonia’s independence vote.

It was revealed last week that the Crown Office, acting on behalf of Spain, will resurrect the crime of treason as part of their efforts to secure Ponsati’s extradition, a charge that has not been employed in the UK since 1945, when it was used to prosecute Nazi propagandist William Joyce, or Lord Haw-Haw.

“It is not enough for Sanchez to recognise there is a ‘political problem’. Catalonia needs to have its will respected. The only option is a referendum.” Catalan Defence Committee Scotland statement

CDC Scotland also said that the Scottish Government’s preference for an independent Scotland within the EU should not “compel [them] to abandon the international right to self-determination”.

The CDC went on to demand that the UK Government’s new foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt change the UK’s present relationship with Spain, abandoning its tacit support for human rights abuses and calling on the UK Government to “publicly condemn” Madrid’s refusal to allow a referendum.

Labour must also take a stronger stance, the CDC stated, arguing that Labour’s “opposition to a referendum at home should not result in disregard for human rights in Catalonia”.

The statement reads: “We are glad that the new Spanish Prime Minister has opened a dialogue with Catalan President Quim Torra. But the refusal to even discuss a referendum on the basis that self-determination is illegal under Spanish law is unacceptable. We need political figures to take action.

READ MORE: Catalan President to visit Scotland in July to meet Ponsati and Sturgeon

“It is the right of all peoples across the world to determine their own future – especially when that will is expressed through Catalan elections. It is not enough for Sanchez to recognise there is a ‘political problem’. Catalonia needs to have its will respected. The only option is a referendum.

“The Scottish Government must condemn Spain’s flagrant continued disrespect for democracy. The interests of an independent Scotland seeking EU membership must not compel the Scottish Government to abandon the international right to self-determination.

“Likewise, the UK Government’s new Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Jeremy Hunt MP, must publicly condemn Madrid’s unwillingness to give a voice to the Catalan people and treat them with dignity. Their response to support the authoritarian regime of Rajoy against democracy has been despicable. Turning a blind eye to state violence should not be a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations.

“Labour under Corbyn and Leonard has pledged to stand up for democracy and human rights. They must show what that means and support the people of Catalonia.” Catalan Defence Committee Scotland statement

“Labour under Corbyn and Leonard has pledged to stand up for democracy and human rights. They must show what that means and support the people of Catalonia. Their opposition to a referendum at home should not result in the disregard for human rights in Catalonia.

“Discussions between Catalonia, Madrid and other politicians are promising, but political strength is required to ensure that the will of the Catalan people is realised.”

Following his first meeting with Sánchez, Torra described their discussion as “long, sincere and productive”, but said that he had told his Spanish counterpart that any solution to the ongoing political conflict between Spain and Catalonia “has to include the right to self-determination”. Torra said that he could not give up on the right to self-determination, “as it belongs to the people.”

Torra also welcomed the fact that the Sánchez recognised that the Catalan situation was "political and needs to be solved by political means."

Picture courtesy of SBA73