The president of the Government of Catalonia, Quim Torra, paraphrased comments by Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams this afternoon: “When one person’s human rights are violated, everyone’s human rights are violated.” He said that such violations are affecting both the leaders in prison and those in exile. In reference to the Central Electoral Board’s decision to ban the exiled leaders from standing in the European elections, President Torra expressed his support for President Carles Puigdemont and ministers Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí against the injustice being perpetrated by the “central inquisitorial board”. President Torra made these statements alongside President Puigdemont after a meeting in Waterloo (Belgium), during which they analysed the latest decisions of the Spanish electoral authority and the political situation following the elections to the Congress of Deputies and the Senate.
Referring to the Catalan independence trial, the head of the executive said: “What’s on trial in Madrid is Catalonia’s right to self-determination.” “I won’t accept any sentence other than acquittal [because] if I defend the right to self-determination – as my colleagues did, as President Puigdemont did – then I too am guilty. And I don’t consider myself guilty of anything for having exercised the right to self-determination.” President Torra went on to say: “This afternoon, our colleagues should be free; their colleagues in exile should be at home with their families. […] We expect an acquittal on all charges, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ll submit a democratic proposal – based on Catalans’ inalienable right to self-determination – to the Parliament of Catalonia.”
Referring to the Spanish general election, he noted: “The independence movement continues to occupy a central space in Catalan politics.” For his part, President Puigdemont said it is Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez “who needs to make a move [because] he’ll be the candidate for investiture”. Puigdemont wondered whether Sánchez might have “something to say, correct or restart with respect to what he broke off” and whether he wants to take office in a climate of uncertainty or seek resolution. “We don’t know; we don’t know what his policy will be in relation to Catalonia.”
President Puigdemont said the meeting had served to analyse “the political situation with the perspective that these weeks before the configuration of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate gives us, and to discuss the latest attack by the state, which will need to be resolved in the upcoming European election – we hope with protection of the right to stand for election and the right to vote.”
Speaking to the press, Puigdemont also expressed his gratitude to President Torra: “When he became president, he made a commitment to visit the prisoners and exiles regularly, and he’s done that since his first day in office.” The former president said that Torra had once again lived up to his promise by travelling to Waterloo, and that yesterday he was in Soto del Real and Alcalà (the Spanish prisons where the independence leaders are being held) to talk to the jailed leaders. “I greatly appreciate the contact and the quality of the contact.”
President Torra also met this morning with the Catalan government’s representative in Brussels, Meritxell Serret, and with exiled ministers Toni Comín and Lluís Puig.
At midday, President Torra, President Puigdemont, the ministers in exile, and representatives of the Catalan National Assembly held a rally in Schuman Square in Brussels.