by Xavier Miró Argemi
“After 500 days, my priority is not to get out of prison. My priority is to denounce the attack and violation of rights and freedoms in Catalonia and in Spain”.
Those are the words of Jordi Cuixart, the president of the largest cultural civil society organisation in Europe, Òmnium Cultural. During his declaration on the trial against the pro-independence Catalan leaders, Òmnium reached the stratospheric figure of 140,000 members, putting it ahead of FC Barcelona in terms of the number of members. On the day of the trial declaration, Òmnium Cultural was gaining more than one new member per second.
It is clear that Catalan society is following the trials both with meticulous attention and contained concern. As a plural society, there are different opinions and sensibilities but there is one commonality that all polls reflect: between 70-75% of the population considers the almost 2 years that the political leaders have been jailed without trial as an abusive situation. These 10 members of the government have been accused of rebellion, disobedience or embezzlement while the 2 leaders of the civil society have been accused of rebellion.
According to Spanish law, rebellion requires violence. During the last 2 and a half months of the trial, we have seen how the Spanish prosecutors have tried to demonstrate the existence of violence. Nevertheless, such violence has not been proven, simply because violence from voters on 1 October, 2017 did not occur. The most relevant fact was that during a demonstration in the previous September, two cars of the Guardia Civil (Spanish Police) were covered with stickers and painted. However, it is difficult to determine that from this act alone it can be presumed there was a context of violence or rebellion.
Indeed, going back to the 1st of October and the celebration of the Unilateral-Referendum, the only violence that could have been observed by the international journalists, the health authorities, and the commission of international observers, was the violence perpetrated by the Spanish Police Forces, which left more than 1,000 voters injured.
The trial that is currently taking place in Spain has one big anomaly: an elected government is being managed without the presence of its president, Mr. Carles Puigdemont. The Spanish press and many politicians from Madrid will not stop repeating that Puigdemont is a fugitive. This statement is far from reality. Mr. Puigdemont was, and is, at the disposal of the Belgian and German justice systems. Indeed, the German Court of Schleswig-Holstein concluded that Mr. Puigdemont did not commit rebellion nor was violence part of his political action. German justice is highly independent from political power and more neutral when it comes to the Spanish-Catalan political conflict.
To put it in black and white, what was obvious for everyone, except for the Spanish State Powers and its monarchy, was that 2.3 million people did not participate in a rebellion but in a vote, that the only violence on the 1st of October came not from the voters but from the police, and that the democratic action of the Catalan government and the independence movement was unilateral but peaceful.
The judgment of the trial is expected to arrive this autumn. It will mark the lives of 10 elected political leaders and 2 civil society leaders that have always exhibited pacifism in their actions. However, the verdict of the trial in the Spanish jurisdiction will not definitively end this case, it will jump to the Human Rights Courts and to other International Courts of Justice and IOs such as the United Nations. It is during our time that it will be determined whether self-determination is deemed a crime or a right.