Catalan writers in Brussels condemn ‘repression’ by Spain
Literary event moved to new venue after delegation employees receive “explicit” threats from Spanish authorities
Catalan language writers read out texts in defense of freedom of expression at an event in Brussels on Friday, which was to have taken place in Catalonia’s delegation there but which was moved out of fear of reprisals by the Spanish government.
“This right is being systematically violated and we wanted to protest the repression by the Spanish state, including the government, the judiciary and the police,” said Bel Olid, writer and member of the Association of Writers in the Catalan Language (AELC in Catalan).
According to Olid, the AELC literary event was moved to the Casal Català cultural centre at the request of employees at Catalonia’s foreign delegation in Brussels. After a previous event was held at the Catalan delegation to celebrate Sant Jordi’s Day, which was attended by deposed Catalan culture minister Lluís Puig, the employees say they received “explicit” threats from the Spanish government, which has prohibited “political acts” from taking place there.
“This right is being systematically violated and we wanted to protest the repression by the Spanish state, including the government, the judiciary and the police”
Bel Olid · Writer
Puig, who attended Friday’s event with two other deposed Catalan ministers in Brussels, Toni Comín and Meritxell Serret, welcomed the fact that there was “a space of liberty” where the literary gathering could be held. On Thursday, after hearing that the AELC had decided to change the venue, Puig took to social media to accuse the Spanish authorities of not being interested in “fostering free thinking among the public.”
At the event, texts were read out by members of the AELC board—Olid, Jordi Martín Lloret, Gemma Pasqual and Sebastià Portell—while three poets each representing a different Catalan-speaking region recited poems. Roser Sebastià, representing the Òmnium Cultural association, read out a poem by Roc Casagran dedicated to Òmnium head, Jordi Cuixart, who is being held in pretrial detention. Ministers Puig and Serret also recited poems.
Since dismissing the Catalan government and imposing direct-rule, the Spanish executive has closed down all of Catalonia’s delegations abroad, except for the one in Brussels. The literary event that took place on Friday had originally been authorized by the Spanish government to go ahead in the delegation back in April. However, after the authorities in Madrid sacked a Catalan high official following deposed minister Puig’s attendance at the event there on April 23, the AELC said it “preferred” to move to another venue to avoid something similar happening again.