Catalan ministers in Brussels protest in support of ‘political prisoners’
Demonstration by MEPs outside European Parliament calls for release of independence leaders
The four ministers in Brussels from the Catalan government that was dismissed by the Spanish executive following the suspension of self-rule in Catalonia, called on the European Parliament on Wednesday to help free their colleagues in the independence movement who are still being held in prison in Spain.
Meritxell Serret, Toni Comín, Lluís Puig and Clara Ponsatí, who all left for Brussels with Catalan president Carles Puigdemont following the declaration of independence by Catalonia’s parliament, took part in a demonstration organized by the Plataforma Diàleg UE-Catalunya, which is made up of 31 MEPs from a range of different parties.
The demonstration, which did not include Puigdemont, who had attended an event in Ghent the previous evening, attracted around 40 protesters, most of whom were MEPs in favor of dialogue with the Spanish government, such as Jordi Solé from the Esquerra party or Ramon Tremosa from Puigdemont’s PDECat party.
The attendees held up banners with the message ‘Freedom for the Catalan political prisoners,’ with the images of vice president Oriol Junqueras, interior minister Joaquim Forn, and the grassroots activists, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, the four independence leaders still being held in custody.
"We condemn the violence towards the prisoners, who are behind bars, in undignified and inhumane conditions"
Ivo Vajgl · Slovenian former foreign minister
The spokesman for the platform, MEP and Slovenian former foreign minister Ivo Vajgl, told the press that they are prisoners "who were chosen in a democratic election" and therefore have the support of a public that "shares their ideas." Vajgl went on to say that it was "totally unacceptable that the Spanish government refused to begin democratic dialogue.”
"We condemned the violence on October 1 and today we condemn the violence towards the prisoners, who are behind bars, in undignified and inhumane conditions, removed from everyday life with their families,” he added. The Slovenian former minister also pointed out that a request by the platform to visit the prisoners was turned down by the Spanish authorities.
Esquerra MEP Jordi Solé said that the protest -which took place just before a plenary session in the EU parliament began- was to condemn "the great injustice and anomaly" of the Catalan political prisoners, and he criticized the “clear abuse” of preventive detention in the face of charges that legally “do not stand up”.