Statement of Esquerra Republicana on the conviction of the Catalan leaders

Spain has condemned the Catalan political leaders up to 13 years in jail. The only possible solution is through amnesty and recognition of the right to self-determination.

The Spanish Supreme Court has found the pro-independence leaders who conducted the referendum on self-determination in Catalonia on the 1st October 2017 guilty of sedition, misuse of public funds, and disobedience, sentencing them up to 13 years in prison.

The sentence passed on the Catalan leaders is a historical error that does not resolve the political conflict and that limits and conditions the democratic purview through repression. An error that will cause a political and social upheaval such as that already provoked by the Constitutional Court’s finding against the redacted Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia in 2010. The State once again makes itself clear in that Catalonia and its people must be silent and that they have no right to decide on their own future, and that if they attempt to defend democracy, repression will be the response.

This has been nothing less than a political trial by which elected representatives and leaders of civil society have been prosecuted for their ideals and their respect for the democratic mandate of the people. A state that considers itself democratic cannot imprison leaders for recognising the right to vote. That is why they never intended to judge facts, but have wanted to punish a political movement by causing the suffering of those who had partaken in the Government of Catalonia, the Speaker of Parliament and the members of the civic movements. This conviction is nothing less than assault on democracy, fundamental rights, and on liberty.

The hearings have shown numerous irregularities, as witnessed by international human rights organizations that have closely followed the proceedings, including the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and EuroMed Rights, which have denounced numerous procedural deficiencies and lack of guarantees during the course of the whole trial, including the breach of the right of defence of the Catalan leaders. In addition, these organizations have also criticized the fact that all the defendants were held in jail for over two years, deprived of their freedom in pre-trial detention.

For all the above reasons, this trial does nothing but internationalize the Catalan conflict, unmasking the Spanish State for what it is, bringing it before the international courts for the violation of rights and its persecution of the independence movement.

Caretaker Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has neither attempted nor wanted to resolve this situation. This is made obvious in the request of the highest penalties by the state’s public prosecution and attorney, appointed by the Spanish Government, but also in the threat of a new suspension of home rule in Catalonia by means of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. We demand that Spain act to resolve this conflict and return to the political arena.

It is clear that repression and persecution go nowhere. The lack of dialogue and the worsening of relations with Catalonia has brought about the political collapse of Spain. Four general elections have been held in the last four years, with no administration attaining sufficient stability to govern nor to reach a political solution with the Catalan government, which must necessarily include the exercise of the right to self-determination, allowing the people to decide on their own future.

It is now time for democracy. The international community must commit to the resolution of a conflict that is nothing other than political and that concerns human and fundamental rights, and which goes well beyond the borders of Spain. Resolution of this conflict can only come through dialogue and negotiation, which the Spanish government has proven to be unwilling or unable to apply. True democrats must not turn their backs on the violations of fundamental rights taking place in Catalonia.

Considering the above:

  1. We request the international community, and particularly the European Union, open a dialogue in order to find a democratic solution to Spain’s conflict with Catalonia.
  2. We bring to mind that the right to self-determination, defended by a large majority of citizens in Catalonia, is not a crime but a right guaranteed the peoples by the Charter of the United Nations.
  3. We call on the Spanish Government and Europe to allow the exercise of the right to self-determination in Catalonia in order to allow the people to ascertain their will.
  4. We demand a democratic response for Catalonia, the amnesty of all Catalan political prisoners, and the return of its exiles.

Barcelona, 14 October 2019.