Yesterday evening, following the first day of the trial of 12 Catalan leaders on charges related to the 1 October 2017 referendum, the president of the Government of Catalonia, Quim Torra, gave a press conference at the Blanquerna Cultural Centre in Madrid.
President Torra made the following statement:
Today I attended the first day of a trial that should never take place in a country that hopes to be considered democratic. Witnessing our ministers, the president of the Parliament and social leaders seated before a criminal court is, in itself, an attack on democracy and human rights, and a shameless embarrassment for twenty-first century Europe.
We are facing an act of revenge against a people who decided to decide; against a people that shielded the ballot boxes from baton blows with their own bodies to ensure themselves a better future. This is precisely what some have not tolerated, preferring rather to take revenge and punish.
The innumerable list of violations, infringements, restrictions and discriminations committed against the political prisoners, a list which was accurately presented today by their defence attorneys, in any normal country, would close the file on this case, and responsibilities would be immediately addressed. After just one day the state has been exposed and what has long been denounced has become apparent: this macro-case is a political persecution.
- I demand the immediate filing of this case against democracy.
- The court must respond accordingly to the observations made by the attorneys today should it wish to maintain the minimum level of impartiality.
- I demand the immediate release of political prisoners so that they may securely defend themselves.
- I ask international jurists, legal observers, and international human rights, civil and political organisations to watch this farce of a trial closely and explain the violations that they see occur.
- This cause will end up before international and European courts and we will emerge victorious. Those individuals who, in name of a unified Spanish state, do not wish to carry out justice but rather become patriotic heroes, heed my words.
- Let us be the voice of justice, liberty and self-determination for all prisoners on trial around the world. I have travelled, and will continue to travel, to the far corners of the Earth to make sure our cries are heard. We will promote and strengthen our initiatives to bring the Catalan case before international bodies. We will garner all support possible.
- And finally, we ask once again that the Spanish government return to the table, to dialogue. 80% of Catalan people want to resolve this political conflict exercising their right to self-determination. We call on the international community to mediate, in order to enable dialogue to take place in a democratic framework, and in accordance with the will of our citizens.
No court can put Catalan democracy on trial. No judgement can close the ballot boxes. Against repression, strengthened democracy. Against imprisonment, a heightened desire for freedom. Against threats, tightened bonds amongst democrats. And against judgements, more self-determination.