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Jailed pro-Catalan independence leaders call for peaceful protests on Friday

Widespread demonstrations are planned in Barcelona to coincide with a meeting there of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Cabinet, something that has been interpreted by some as a “provocation”

CDR Cataluña
CDR demonstrators at a toll booth. EFE

The pro-Catalan independence leaders who are currently being held in pre-trial custody have signed a joint letter insisting that the protests planned in the region for tomorrow, to coincide with the central government’s planned Cabinet meeting in Barcelona, be peaceful.

The executive of Socialist Party (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that it would be holding the meeting in the Catalan capital, after having done the same in Andalusia, in a bid to bring the central government closer to the people. But given the ongoing independence drive in the northeastern Spanish region, pro-secession supporters have interpreted the move as a provocation, and a number of demonstrations are being planned by groups such as the self-styled Committee for the Defense of the Republic (CDR).

The politicians who penned the letter – Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Carme Forcadell, Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart, Raül Romeva, Joaquim Forn, Dolors Bassa and Oriol Junqueras – called for the same non-violent attitude taken by citizens on October 1, 2017, the day that an illegal referendum on independence was held in Catalonia. Scenes of police violence against members of the public were seen, however, and were broadcast around the world. “The things that they didn’t achieve then, the things that meant a victory for the democratic movement of October 1, the things that dignify our cause; we can’t allow anyone to spoil it by giving them the gift of images that they didn’t get on October 1,” the letter reads, in reference to the peaceful attitude of the public and the violence of the police and Civil Guard.

They want to provoke us, they want us angry, they wanted us to be violent, and they will not achieve it

Letter from independence leaders

The politicians also called for people to not succumb to the “provocation” by sectors who are against the independence movement, and to avoid violent scenes. “They want to provoke us, they want us angry, they wanted us to be violent, and they will not achieve it,” the letter reads. “Our strength resides in always, always maintaining a civic and peaceful attitude, one that banishes and isolates any un-civic or violent act. We will not allow them to change us, we will not succumb to any provocation.”

The group also defends the right to mobilize when it is helpful to do so and “in the face of a scenario of regression of rights and freedoms.” But they insist that this be done in a peaceful way. “It has to continue in this way, because ours is, above all else, a just and democratic cause that is always expressed with the will to live and coexist peacefully and with freedom.”

The letter also makes reference to the PSOE, who presented a motion in Congress to condemn the actions of the then-Popular Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for the police charges that took place during the October 1 referendum. “That day democracy was the winner, the people were the winners, and the peaceful defense of the ballot boxes won,” the letter reads. “And those people who gave orders for peaceful citizens to be beaten lost.”

English version by Simon Hunter.

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