Organised by the pro-independence campaign groups Òmnium and the Catalunya National Assembly (ANC), whose leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez respectively are currently in custody without bail, the demonstration called for ‘freedom for political prisoners’ and condemned the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which places Catalunya under State rule.
Demonstrators also say the State has not been investigated or faced criminal offences for police working under its orders on the day of the disputed referendum having used ‘excessive force and violence’.
Despite foreign minister Alfonso Dastis telling the BBC on Andrew Marr’s show that much of the police violence footage was ‘fake news’, organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned officers’ actions.
Protesters in Barcelona say the regional government, whose ministers are now facing prison, were ‘merely fulfilling their electoral promises’ and ‘acting on the mandate given to them’ on referendum day.
“Unlike the police, they have not committed violence,” said one demonstrator.
“Neither have they robbed anyone. They are simply following through with what they promised to do if they were elected.”
Barcelona city council, including its mayoress Ada Colau, have all staged a minute’s silence and joined the demonstration – a second of which is due to be held this evening outside the regional Parliament.
Sra Colau, of the regional faction of left-wing party Podemos, is not in favour of independence and believes it unfair to the people of Catalunya who do not support the move, but has always been in favour of dialogue and peaceful discussion.
She said earlier today that the State needs to stop its criminal proceedings and seek political solutions instead.
“This is an exceptional situation, something not seen in 40 years of democracy – the entire regional government and Parliament are called to testify in court and could face up to 30 years each in jail,” she explained.
Photograph by the pro-independence party CUP on Twitter (@cupnacional)