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24 Nobel Prize laureates call for “mediation and dialogue” between Catalonia and Spain

The authors denounce “violence and alienation” from Madrid and advocate a “peaceful resolution”

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20 October 2017 08:04 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

24 Nobel Prize laureates from several disciplines have drafted an 'Open Letter to Spain and Catalonia' in which they call for “mediation and negotiation” to undo “the current standoff” between Catalonia and Spain. As did the eight Nobel Peace Prize laureates in an open letter published on October 8, the 24 signees also stress that neither side is “free of errors” in a conflict that, in their opinion, did not start with the referendum on October 1. Rather, the tension began “seven years ago with the Constitutional Tribunal invalidation of the 2010 autonomy statute passed by the Spanish Parliament.”

Never in today’s Spain

In the letter, which was also sent to the European Commission, the Nobel Prize Recipients state that the Spanish government has done “little” since 2010 to “adequately address the simmering issue,” and resolve the conflict. They add that, however, they wouldn’t have predicted “the extreme and unhelpful measures” from Madrid in response to the referendum, listing “scenes of police brutality, violence and use of rubber bullets” against Catalan voters as something they “never would have expected in today’s Spain.” 

  • “A people that feels repressed rarely disappears silently at night”

    The 29 Nobel Prize laureates

“Time is short”

The Nobel laureates also describe the Spanish government’s apology of that violence as “a very small step in the right direction.” They urge that “so much more needs to be done” and they warn that “time is short.”

Because of this, the 28 authors of the letter state that they are joining “leaders around the world in condemning the use of force in Catalonia.”

Mature democracies “find a way”

The 28 figures state that while they “do not take a position on constitutional issues,” they also “believe that mature democracies find a way to allow freedom of expression.” As examples of such, the authors list countries like Scotland in the U.K. and Quebec in Canada, where “separatist referendums” were “carried out.”

In the cases of those two countries, the authors continue, “the ‘no’ vote won.” This is because, according to them, “violent responses by a central government to desires for free expression of a citizenry” do nothing but “further heighten hostility.” Moreover, they explain, they even “create disaffection where it might not have existed previously.”  

Towards a peaceful resolution

Of the 24 Nobel Prize laureates, ten are Nobel Peace Prize laureates, six of Medicine, four of Chemistry, two of Literature, one of Physics and one of Economy. All of them support the calls for mediation and negotiations "towards a peaceful resolution of the current standoff between the Spanish government and Catalonia.” As a last warning, they write: “A people that feels repressed rarely disappears silently at night.” 

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  • 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee (by Reuters)