Esquerra leader Junqueras: “In the face of the repression we suffer, independence is a duty”

Esquerra’s leadership, President Oriol Junqueras, Secretary General Marta Rovira and Deputy President Pere Aragonès demand amnesty to end repression, including that of the Court of Auditors

“Independence does not only derive from democratic principle and human rights; independence is a duty. And now, more than ever, in the face of the repression we suffer, independence is a duty we have to society as a whole; […] and it is the only guarantee we have to become truly free.” Those were the words of Esquerra Republicana’s President Oriol Junqueras on Monday at the Party’s extraordinary National Council meeting, this time offline, face-to-face, alongside Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa and Raül Romeva, who had been held in prison for almost four years.

In his speech, Mr Junqueras said he was pleased to recoup time with his family without the ominous circumstance of imprisonment – “as you can imagine” – but he insisted that repression against independence has not ended, not by a long shot, mentioning both those in exile and those facing the Court of Auditors on Tuesday. “Repression cannot only be measured in figures but also be measured in the suffering it generates for those who had nothing to do” with the independence referendum on 1 October 2017 or with the Government, he said, highlighting the economic embargoes against pro-independence politicians and activists.

So there is a long way to go to achieve this “peace in the broadest sense, peace with dignity as a people”; and at the end of the road lies amnesty, said Mr Junqueras. “Today we are a little freer, but we will not stop fighting one moment for the freedom of all of us, and for the freedom of our country,” he insisted.

Esquerra Secretary General Marta Rovira also spoke from her exile in Geneva. “Tomorrow, before the Court of Auditors, that undemocratic, entirely arbitrary, shadowy, opaque body, will begin to prosecute many more of those who have served the democratic institutions of Catalonia. Tomorrow, many families will see their properties and possessions endangered, many young people will see their future compromised. One day the Spanish Government decided to cross the red line of political repression, and it is difficult to backtrack. So our struggle will continue, because amnesty is the only possible solution” she said.

Speaking via videoconference, the Esquerra leader vindicated that “our ideals are intact” despite the attempts to “silence and threaten” the independence project. “We are much stronger today, overcoming repression and fighting it day in, day out” she said, especially since international and European pronouncements have recently called for an end to unjust political persecution, and many have also evidenced the right to decide on the Catalan Republic in a referendum.

That is precisely what the President of the Catalan Generalitat government and party Deputy President Pere Aragonès defends. “The Council of Europe’s roadmap is what we will take to Moncloa – the Spanish Prime Minister’s residence – tomorrow; Spain must comply with the Council of Europe” he said. That is why he insists on amnesty as the key to a “frank and honest negotiation to resolve the political conflict between Catalonia and the State.” “We will only bring one proposal to the table: the opportunity to hold a referendum on independence to decide democratically – without the threat of police batons or arrests – so that this country can decide freely,” he concluded.