Activists call for peaceful protests on two year incarceration anniversary

Sentenced to nine years in prison for sedition on Monday, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez have now been behind bars since October 16, 2017

Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sánchez (by Roger Pi de Cabanyes)
Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sánchez (by Roger Pi de Cabanyes) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 16, 2019 01:02 PM

On the day that marked two years that the activist leaders, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez have spent behind bars over their role in the 2017 push for independence, the pair have called for the protests that have ensued to be peaceful, stating that "no violence represents us."

Found guilty of sedition by Spain's Supreme Court on Monday and sentenced to nine years in prison, the activists are the independence leaders who have spent most time in custody to date. 

In a tweet on Wednesday, exactly two years since they were imprisoned, they asked that the protests, which have so far led to police clashes across Catalonia, damage to Barcelona airport, and barricades being set on fire, "are massive and peaceful."

The heads of the Òmnium and ANC pressure groups at the time (Sànchez later left his ANC post to become an MP), Spain's National Court sent them to jail on October 16, 2017.

Two years later, despite calls for their release from groups such as Amnesty International and the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the two men remain locked up.

In fact, just on Tuesday, the worldwide association of writers, PEN International, called for the two men to be released, saying: "This indignant attack has to end once and for all."

"We'll do it again"

They also remain unrepentant, and responding to his conviction, Cuixart repeated his defiant closing remark in court that has become something of a watchword: "We'll do it again."

The Òmnium head also called for a "tsunami of dignity" in "defending the right to self-determination," and he stressed the need to continue "the nonviolent struggle."

Sànchez had a similar message, and following his conviction, encouraged supporters "to show no fear and move forward from non-violence towards freedom."

Whether pro-independence supporters heed their words remains to be seen, as the protests over the convictions in the past few days have seen demonstrators clash with police.

In fact, it was the accusation that the two leaders incited an uprising during protests against Spanish police raids on September 20, 2017, that originally led to their arrests.

It is a charge that the activists have consistently denied, arguing that they cooperated with the authorities on that day, and even encouraged the protestors to disband and go home.

Christmas return home looking unlikely

The leaders' lawyers this week dampened expectations that the men could be home for Christmas, as Spanish law allows some inmates temporary release after time served.

Cuixart's lawyer, Marina Roig, called for "caution" on Monday following unsubstantiated reports that her client might be soon released on a limited basis.

According to Roig, the decision lies with the Supreme Court and given the "harshness" of the sentence, she doubted they would be granted the privilege.