This statement is also available in German
Rally | 12 midday | Berlin
One week ago, Carles Puigdemont, the president of Catalonia, was arrested in Schleswig-Holstein. The arrest was based on an international arrest warrant issued by the Spanish government against 13 Catalonian politicians who were accused of rebellion. Puigdemont is currently in custody in the JVA Neumünster, where a decision will be made about his extradition.
The background is a banned referendum from 1 October 2017, which was brutally suppressed, together with the parliamentary elections last year, in which the Catalonian people – highly disappointed by the failure of the central government to enter meaningful dialogue – voted for independence from the Spanish state.
The origin of all this harm lies in the new Catalonian statute of 2005. Catalonia should have been allowed more autonomy. After several changes, the statute was ratified by the Spanish parliament of the time and signed by the king. The People’s Party (PP), now in government still did not like the statute. They contested the statute, and in 2010 many paragraphs were removed or changed, causing the withdrawal of rights and responsibilities that had just been recognized. Outrage among the Catalonian population was especially triggered by the manner in which the statute collapsed. The attacks against countless initiatives and laws by the Catalonian government have been growing ever since.
Catalonian society sees independence as a fight for a break with post-Francoism, a constitutional process, self-organisation, social reforms and a society based on solidarity. “Sovereignty” is understood here as a synonym for the political and democratic right to choose by the people.
The post-Franquiist Spanish regime, under the leadership of the reactionary president Mariano Rajoy, is reacting to these aspirations with harsh repression: police violence, disempowerment of Catalonian autonomy and random arrests. It is trying to crush the Catalonian freedom movement with long jail sentences for representatives of the aspiration to independence.
The repression has come to affect anyone throughout Spain who expresses criticism of the government or the crown. The new so-called “gagging law” has massively limited freedom of speech, with rappers, Twitter users, artists and actors being imprisoned, subject to large fines or censored. The government is disturbed by the yellow ribbons which are worn in support of the freedom of political prisoners, and even by the colour yellow. At the same time, the scandalous corruption that is strongly rooted in the government and in the royal house is apparently no grounds for jailings or fines.
If the German government were to extradite Puigdemont, it would play into the hands of an authoritarian régime, and actively participate against progressive alternative models to the Europe-wide loss of democracy over many years. Extradition would also intensify the conflict.
If you want to learn from history, you should also remember Lluís Companys, who was extradited by the Nazis to the Franquists, who executed him in Barcelona. Even if no-one could imagine such an end in today’s Europe, the situation automatically provokes such gruesome memories in the Catalan people.
We demand the immediate release of president Puigdemont and an end to this persecution and oppression by judicial violence, where the central government distorts or makes up facts and laws at will. A significant number of recognised lawyers both in Spain as well as in Europe condemn all these irregularities and the failure to separate powers in Spain. Amnesty International and UNO have also severely criticised the human rights abuses in the case of Catalonia.
We demand a political solution to the conflict, which befits a democratic Europe of the 21st Century.
Freedom for all Catalan political prisoners! The conflict in Catalonia and the erosion of democracy by the Spanish state is a European issue with international consequences,
Visca la República Catalana! Visca la llibertat dels pobles ! Visca la llibertat d’expressió! Visca la Democracia!
CDR Berlín, Comitè de solidaritat amb Catalunya, CUP, ANC Deutschland