Start of independence trial sparks protests around Catalonia
Officials, public workers, activists, unions, professionals, students and senior citizens condemn prosecution of political leaders in Spain's Supreme Court
The start of the trial in Spain's Supreme Court of Catalan political leaders involved in the 2017 independence bid sparked condemnation and protests around Catalonia on Tuesday that included individuals and organizations from all sectors of society.
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, the presidency minister, Elsa Artadi, and members of the city council and the executive came together for a protest in Sant Jaume square, where the HQs of the local and Catalan governments are located.
Behind a large banner that read "Self-determination is not a crime," the local and Catalan officials were joined by people holding photographs of the political leaders on trial and signs reading "I accuse you" and "They are judging us all."
Hundreds of people took to the streets across Catalonia in the evening to protest against the trial of the Catalan independence politicians and activists. Among the groups active in the demonstrations were leaders of left wing Catalan parties, who gathered in front of the Spanish prosecution office in Barcelona to voice their frustrations at the central government's handling of the independence question.
Various different political groups are urging for a response to the trials that they view as politically motivated. The protestors are advocating for a general strike across Catalonia on February 21, and plan to mobilize more in the upcoming days and weeks while the trial is ongoing.
Health professionals defend "freedom and democracy"
At noon, health minister, Alba Vergés, joined health professionals from Barcelona's Clínic hospital, temporarily blocking off a road outside the hospital before they moved on to protest outside the medical faculty of Barcelona University.
The protest by the health professionals "in defense of freedom and democracy" and "in support of the people imprisoned, victimized by reprisals and exiled" coincided with a general stoppage in workplaces around the country called for noon.
Public workers insist "we will win"
Meanwhile, a march by public workers behind a banner that read "We continue determined, we will win" left from the government's Universities and Research department on the Via Laietana avenue and joined another protest further down called by the CCOO trade union.
The head of the union in Catalonia, Javier Pacheco, called for the Supreme Court to show "impartiality, proportionality and transparency" during the trial, and he condemned the "absolute lack of proportion" in the sentences demanded by the prosecution.
CDR cuts roads and blocks Lleida university
The Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) pressure group began the day by cutting main roads around Catalonia, while also protesting outside the chief prosecutor's office in Barcelona along with members of the far-left CUP pro-independence party.
CDR members also carried out simultaneous protests in different parts of Lleida University, temporarily blocking access to the rector's office and the university campus bridge, while holding banners reading 'This is not a trial, it is a disgrace.'
Numerous protests in Tarragona
Meanwhile, in the southern region of Tarragona, professional and civil society groups came together to protest. Students demonstrated against the trial outside Tarragona's union building and in the university, while in nearby Reus a lawyers' group protested outside the local courts, as did an association of senior citizens in the city's Mercadal square.