Barcelona, 19 October 2019
Citizens of Catalonia,
We stand before you today, together with the mayors of Tarragona, Lleida and Girona, as representatives of the people of Catalonia, to express our condemnation of the Spanish government’s unwillingness to engage in dialogue when the citizens of Catalonia are expressing legitimate indignation at an unjust ruling rejected by the vast majority of society. We also want to appeal for people to act responsibly, and to convey a message of reassurance.
We are in a serious situation – a very serious situation. First, as a result of the sentencing of Catalonia’s elected representatives and social leaders to a total of over 100 years in prison – 100 years of injustice. A ruling that curtails basic rights and freedoms. A ruling that exacerbates and does nothing to resolve a political conflict. A ruling that deepens rather than ending the conflict. A ruling that does not represent any form of justice.
Likewise, and with the same firmness, we call on the acting Spanish government to ensure that its police act in Catalonia in accordance with the principles of proportionality, consistency and appropriacy that should guide the conduct of any police force in a democracy. We call on the Spanish government to ensure that its police apply the standards indicated by the Catalan Ombudsman yesterday, which were established by the representatives of the people of Catalonia in its Parliament.
Most importantly, we thank all of the public servants who have been providing their services in recent days to ensure rights and freedoms.
We regret the injuries that many – including journalists, police officers and protesters – have suffered, and we wish them all a speedy recovery.
We understand the frustration and anger felt by a large part of the population and believe the events of recent days stem from those feelings. For a long time now, we have been asking for a meeting with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, but he instead sends us his Minister for Home Affairs.
We once again call on the acting prime minister of the Spanish government to take action today: to set a day and a time to sit down at a negotiating table without any preconditions so we can talk, engage in a dialogue, seek agreement. That is his responsibility and his duty. We’ve always been there; we’ve never walked away from the table. For a long time now, we’ve been calling for a process of negotiation to find a political solution to what is a political conflict. Today, that’s more urgent than ever.
The independence movement, which has majority political representation in Catalonia, has always been a mass movement that’s transversal, civic, ethical and peaceful. The convergence yesterday of the Marches for Freedom and the rallies and mobilisations we’ve seen around Catalonia in recent days are the best expression of this movement. Building the reputation of a movement like ours takes years of effort.
We must defend rights and freedoms the way we always have: peacefully. We call on everyone to stick to that approach. Violence has never been our way and never will be – not in Barcelona, not in Tarragona, not in Girona, not in Lleida, not in any of Catalonia’s 947 municipalities. In the name of all the mayors, we call for people to act responsibly in upcoming protest actions. Violence – in any form – is not what we’re about. What defines us is democracy and the exercise of rights and freedoms.
We would also like to express our sincere gratitude for the mobilisations in support of the Catalan cause that have taken place in many cities in Spain and around the world. In Catalonia, we hear these cries for freedom and justice. And they push us to keep working to achieve our democratic goals.
Finally, we call on the Spanish government to immediately open a process of dialogue and negotiation to find a political and democratic way forward. We thank Catalans for their democratic strength, for their commitment to human, civil and political rights and to freedom. The cause of rights and freedoms is unstoppable. We will go as far as the people of Catalonia want to go.
Thank you and good day!