October 1 police violence not “excessive” despite 1,000 injured, Spanish minister says
Alfonso Dastis admits not having read Human Rights Watch report denouncing the attacks to citizens during the referendum
The Spanish foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, said the violence execised by the Spanish police during the October 1 referendum was not “excessive”. Although the Catalan Health Department published a report stating that the violence caused 1,066 citizens injured, Dastis justified the violence to the German media corporation Deutsche Welle saying that the people “were preventing the police from doing what they should be doing.”
Besides, he claimed that use of batons, tear gas and other weapons was “a reaction to provocations from people who prevented them from discharging the mandates they had received from courts.” Alfonso Dastis was involved in a controversy last month after denying the veracity of some of the October 1 police violence footage in an interview to the BBC.
When being emphasized that “people were thrown to each other” and that even elderly people were involved, Dastis played the issue down. “Come on, this kind of accidents occur.” After being insisted on the matter, he said that he does not think that the October 1 violence “was by any means a Bloody Sunday.” Yet he admitted that he has not read reports by NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, which stated that Spain’s police used “excessive force.”
Come on, this kind of accidents occur
Alfonso Dastis · Spanish foreign minister
Dastis also referred to the events that unfolded after the referendum, including the declaration of independence. According to the Spanish foreign minister, the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont “wanted, God knows why, lead the Catalan people to the cliff of disaster pursuing the road towards unilateral declaration.” Dastis was also asked about the reasons why the Spanish government rejected the offer of dialogue from the Catalan cabinet. “He only sought dialogue about the question of the referendum, the date of the referendum and the declaration of independence.”
The Spanish government responded to Puigdemont’s calls to dialogue in two letters sent in October by enforcing direct rule of Catalonia. Yet Dastis told Deutsche Welle that Rajoy’s executive was willing to dialogue and to offer a higher autonomy to Catalonia. When he was asked about the reason why Madrid did not put on the table such an offer to Puigdemont before the events unfolded, he said that “such a possibility was clearly offered to them,” despite not giving further details.