Spain: Mass protests on heels of independence vote

Spain: Mass protests on heels of independence vote

Spain: Mass protests on heels of independence vote

Shops, banks, and schools closed throughout Catalonia on Tuesday, with roads closed and even ship traffic disrupted, as hundreds of thousands of people mobilized to protest Spain’s actions during Sunday’s independence vote.

Protests broke out throughout the region, and mass protests are scheduled for later this evening. Outside Spanish police headquarters, thousands gathered chanting slogans such as “Spanish police, murders,” “Spanish press, manipulators,” and, of course, “Independencia.”

“Sunday marked a before and after… we are here to fight for our democratic rights, peacefully, united and will fight for as long as it takes,” Arnau, 18, told Anadolu Agency outside of Spanish police headquarters in Barcelona, the autonomous region’s capital.

As of Tuesday, the Catalan government is officially counting the votes, but the preliminary results showed 90 percent of the nearly 2.3 million voters cast their ballots for an independent Catalan republic.

Once the official results are in, Carles Puigdemont, Catalan president, has suggested that a unilateral declaration of independence is in the cards, as that is what legislation passed in the Catalan Parliament says should happen if the Yes side wins the referendum.

Both Spain and the European Commission say the vote was illegal, although UN human rights observers questioned Spain’s use of force on the peaceful voters.

“We just want to decide our own future,” said Pau, 19, part of a group of student protesters whose university was closed today.

“And we need to show that our people won’t stay quiet.”

Lack of dialogue

However, the Spanish government remains unapologetic and has not taken the possibility of fully suspending Catalonia’s autonomy off the table. Likewise, the utter lack of dialogue between the governments in Madrid and Barcelona remains.

“This will stay peaceful to a certain point, but if we stay the same for five or six days and more people get hurt, something more could happen,” added Arnau.

The Catalan government has called on the international community -- the European Union in particular -- to mediate. However, in a statement yesterday the European Commission said it “trusted” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy “to manage this difficult situation.”

“The threats of separatism do not scare us,” said Xavier Garcia Albiol, the head of the ruling Popular Party in Catalonia, on Tuesday, as around 2,000 people surrounded party headquarters.

“We regard the respect for Spain’s territorial integrity as fundamental,” said Huseyin Muftuoglu, spokesman for Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, on Tuesday, responding to the events.

“It is important to comply with the laws of Spain and avoid resorting to violence in this process.”

Source:  Anadolu Agency

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