Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has condemned the Spanish Supreme Court’s decision to sentence 9 Catalan political leaders to between 9 and 13 years in prison over their alleged roles in the 1 October 2017 Catalan independence referendum.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“I am absolutely outraged at the jailing of these 9 Catalan political and civil society leaders. I want to send my solidarity to each one of them and their families at this extremely emotional and difficult time.
“The jailing of these political prisoners is an affront to democratic values and should be of huge concern to democrats and all those who believe in freedom of expression around the world.
“On October 1st 2017, millions of Catalans came out to vote and to democratically decide on their future. It should have been an expression and a triumph for democracy, no matter what the outcome.
“Sadly, the world witnessed through social media and other media outlets the horrific and shocking scenes of Spanish police brutality in various parts of Catalonia that day. Peaceful citizens who were protecting the integrity of polling stations were struck down and beaten by elements of the Spanish police.
“These political and civil society leaders should not have been facing charges for their alleged role in establishing and running that referendum. Facilitating people to vote should not be a crime, but preventing them by force should be.
“From the beginning of this process, I have called for dialogue between the Spanish and Catalan authorities, for the 9 political and civic society leaders to be released from their pre-trial detention, and for the politically motivated charges against them to be dropped.
“In March this year I travelled to Madrid for two days and attended the trial of the Catalan political prisoners. Sadly it had all the trappings of a political show trial.
“I have continued to correspond with the political prisoners and extend Sinn Féin’s solidarity with them on their long detention.
“This should be a political issue, not the dubious legal one that it has become. The Spanish Government needs to stop using the police and the legal system to attack and undermine the Catalan independence movement, which is a legitimate political movement.
“The political way forward has to involve meaningful dialogue and engagement, not the suppression and arbitrary jailing of political and social leaders.
“For democrats this has to be one of the most pressing political issues in Europe. We cannot ignore or dismiss this latest development and the central issue of citizens being prosecuted for pursing purely peaceful and democratic means in defence of self-determination.
“I will be urgently raising this issue in the Dáil and calling on the Irish government to speak out and to condemn this outrageous decision.”