Student strike called for independence referendum anniversary
"Repression" and "attacks" on Catalan institutions ongoing, says pro-independence platform
A pro-independence university platform has called a student strike for next Monday October 1, the one year anniversary of the independence referendum. Protests will be held in conjunction in Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida, and Girona, they announced at a press conference on Friday.
The choice of date is not coincidental. The collective, called Universities for the Republic, wants to "pressure" Spain to respond to "the demands of Catalans" in the wake of the referendum that saw more than 1,000 people injured as Spanish police tried to prevent the vote from taking place.
"Repression is ongoing" the group denounced, stating that "attacks" on Catalan institutions and the public continue.
"Political prisoners and exiles are still being persecuted, there are more than 2,000 people being investigated for taking part in protests, and we are still feeling the damaging effects of Article 155," said spokeswoman Núria Marín on Friday. Article 155 is the clause in the Spanish Constitution that allowed the former People's Party administration to impose direct rule in Catalonia.
After the Spanish crackdown on the vote, Catalan people knew how to react "as was needed," and students "were no exception."
"We wanted to become a spearhead in confronting Spain, and we got organized," Marín said. and organized ourselves in institutes, campuses and faculties.
"We wanted to be fully involved in the counter-movement against the powers that be, so we decided to take to the streets and show that we were dedicated to disobeying," she added. According to Marín, universities were "paralyzed" by Spain's stripping of Catalan self-government.
Fellow spokeswoman Núria Nieto also lambasted Spain's measures against Catalonia's push for independence, and its effects on education in the country.
"We have suffered fascism aimed directly at [Catalonia's] language immersion model," said Nieto.
Universities, a "democratic" space
The spokeswomen stated that universities are a "democratic" space where everybody can express themselves. "Any type of" fascist tendencies, however, are not welcome there, they said.
Catalan students in favour of independence went on strike on September 28 last year, eight days after the first Spanish police raids on government institutions to put a halt to the independence vote.
The strike was followed by students of Catalonia’s main public universities. In Barcelona alone, around 16,000 protesters joined the main rally, according to local police figures, while organizers claim the demonstration was attended by more than 80,000 people.
The streets were filled with chants of “clear the classrooms, defend the referendum,” and “we will vote” among others.