Spanish president ‘proud’ of police response in referendum
Mariano Rajoy praises the reaction of state security forces on October 1 as “defending democracy”
The harsh tactics used by Spanish riot police against voters in the independence referendum on October 1 left few people indifferent. Yet, while the likes of Human Rights Watch would go on to condemn the officers trying to prevent the voting for using “excessive force”, Spanish president Mariano Rajoy said on Tuesday that he is “proud” of the Spanish police.
Addressing the Spanish parliament, Rajoy defended the response of the police and the justice system to what he described as a “coup against democracy.” The Spanish president also said that the state authorities had done their duty in “defending democracy, ensuring the enforcement of the law and protecting the rights of citizens.”
According to the Catalan health department over a thousand people were treated for injuries sustained on the day of the referendum, which Spanish police tried to stop after the vote was ruled illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court. Yet, when asked by a senator if he regretted the violence on the day, Rajoy answered: “What would you expect the State to do, applaud?”
The Spanish president went on to accuse the Catalan independence movement of “trying to disparage” Spanish democracy. “No democracy in Europe or in the world would have accepted what they tried to do in Catalonia,” said Rajoy. He also argued that “ideas are not persecuted in Spain nor is self-government in question,” and he justified the response of the authorities “against those who attempt to put themselves above the law.”