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1.4 million Catalans signed international complaint against Rajoy for banning self-determination vote

The document will be sent to the United Nations, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The Spanish Government “violates the Catalan people’s right to decide its own political future and bans the exercise of democracy through a referendum or an internationally standardised consultation vote”, reads the complaint, signed by 1,386,628 citizens and 3,703 elected representatives such as mayors and MPs. They complain about the “Spanish Government’s anti-democratic attitude”, which ignored an electoral mandate from 2012 to hold a legal and binding self-determination vote in Catalonia, among other facts. The signatures were collected during the symbolic vote on independence held on 9 November by the civil society organisations Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, as well as by the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI). 

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19 January 2015 11:50 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish Government “violates the Catalan people’s right to decide its own political future and bans the exercise of democracy through a referendum or an internationally standardised consultation vote”, reads the document signed by 1,386,628 citizens and 3,703 elected representatives such as mayors and MPs. The document will be sent to the United Nations, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The complaint reports on the “Spanish Government’s anti-democratic attitude” for ignoring an electoral mandate from 2012 – in which 80% of the newly-elected Catalan Parliament ran promising a legal and binding self-determination vote in Catalonia, in elections that became a sort of plebiscite on this issue. In addition, the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has unilaterally imposed his no-to-everything attitude since mid-2012, despite the numerous peaceful citizen demonstrations and demands from Catalonia’s legitimate representatives. The complaint asks the international community to make the necessary steps “to guarantee that the Catalan people can democratically decide its political future”. The signatures were collected during the symbolic vote on independence held on 9 November by the civil society organisations Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, as well as by the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI). The signatures of elected representatives already started on the 5 November last. 


The document signed by almost 1.4 million citizens formally accuses the Spanish Government of "violating the right of the Catalan people to decide on its own political future". It lists reasons of democratic legitimacy for allowing such a vote. It also stresses the Catalan people's sustained self-determination demands and highlights that Catalan representatives have explored all the possible legal avenues to hold a legal self-determination vote. The complaint also emphasises the Spanish Government's total blocking attitude, which "goes against international practice". Furthermore, it announces that Catalan representatives "feel legitimised in launching all the necessary political and legal actions to know the will of the majority of the Catalan people". Finally, it also asks those international organisations to act in order "to guarantee that Catalonia's citizenry can democratically decide its future".

Civil society organisations are behind the action

The ANC has been in charge of all the logistics aspects, including the digitalisation of all the documents. The sheets of paper with the signatures were divided by municipalities in order to ease their classification and numbering. Furthermore, an official affidavit has been carried out, including all the files with the signatures and the documents of the complaint. This affidavit and the digitalised signatures will be the documents that are to be handed to the UN, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

A petition for the UN, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the OSCE

The 3-page document is divided into three main parts. In the first one, the signers recall the main events that have driven Catalan society to the current situation. They stress the democratic legitimacy of the self-determination demands, which has always respected the principles of legality, dialogue, negotiation and social cohesion, and they accuse the Spanish stance of going against democratic standards of plurinational states and recent evolutions of international law. Secondly, they inform the aforementioned international institutions that Catalan representatives have tried all the legal ways to vote and that the Spanish authorities have adopted a no-to-everything attitude. Therefore, Catalan representatives "feel legitimate to launch all the required political and legal actions" to honour "the democratic mandate" and guarantee that Catalans will be able to vote on their own future, and, "based on the vote's results, to act accordingly". Finally, they ask the international community and the aforementioned institutions "to make all the necessary actions to guarantee that Catalonia's citizenry can democratically decide its political future".

The main steps leading to the current situation

The first part of the document is split into 4 main points, which have subsequent minor bullet points. Firstly, the document states that "the people of Catalonia has the nature of a sovereign political entity and subject, for reasons of democratic legitimacy". "As such, it grants itself the right to decide its own political future". Then the petition recalls Catalonia's long tradition of self-government, its historical rights, how the Spanish authorities trimmed Catalonia's statute of autonomy between 2005 and 2010, and the reaction of the Catalan people through a massive demonstration in July 2010.

Secondly, the document emphasises that "in the last few years the Catalan citizenry has repeatedly expressed, directly or through its political representatives, its will to decide its own future". The petition then recalls the massive pro-independence demonstration organised on Catalonia's National Day in 2012, 2013 and 2014. It also highlights the "unequivocal mandate" from the last Catalan Parliament elections (November 2012) in which a great majority of citizens voted for parties supporting the organisation of a self-determination vote. Based on such a mandate, two-thirds of the Catalan Parliament approved a 'Declaration of Sovereignty' in January 2013 to launch a self-determination process, but the Spanish authorities banned such a declaration. In addition, in September 2014, 96% of the Catalan municipalities issued motions backing the organisation of a self-determination vote. 

Thirdly, the document also highlights that Catalan representatives tried to reach agreements with the Spanish authorities on many occasions, but they were all rejected, and therefore they used the Catalan legal framework to hold the self-determination vote. They mention the attempts to organise a referendum mutually agreed with the Spanish authorities, the consensus reached in Catalonia for organising a consultation vote on November 9 and the approval in September 2014 of the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes. However, the Spanish authorities banned Catalonia's actions once again and an alternative and non-binding participatory-process was launched to allow Catalans to at least give their opinion, but this process has also been appealed against. 

Fourthly, the signers state that the Spanish stance goes against "the international practice of plurinational states and international law". They justify such a statement by recalling that Canada's Supreme Court recognised Quebec's right to self-determination, even if it was not explicitly recognised in the Constitution, because of the democratic principle on which the legal framework is based. It also mentions the agreement reached between the British and Scottish governments. Furthermore, it mentions a verdict of the International Court of Justice from the 22nd July of 2010, in which that body concluded that the right to self-determination has evolved and that no rule or habit against this evolution has appeared at international level. Therefore, in the 21st century, the right to self-determination can be exercised to allow specific peoples and political communities to democratically elect their future.

Catalan representatives inform the international community that they "feel legitimate" to act

The second part of the document is also divided into four points, although no minor bullet points are included this time. Firstly, the signers inform the aforementioned institutions that "the Catalan institutions, with the support of a majority of the citizenry, have used all the legal ways to organise a referendum or a consultation vote on Catalonia's political future, which includes the option of independence" from Spain. Secondly, they "acknowledge the Spanish Government's lack of political will to set dialogue and negotiation frameworks" and they "also acknowledge its permanent denial to allow the Catalan people to exercise their right to decide" on its future.

Thirdly, the petition emphasises "the accumulation of difficulties and negative answers by the Spanish State's main political and judicial institutions, which constantly reject all the proposals that have been sent from Catalonia, reflects a clear political and democratic involution, clearly aiming to weaken Catalonia's self-government". "This involution is today expressed with an absolute clarity in political, jurisdictional, financial, social, cultural and linguistic aspects", it states. Therefore, based on all the previous points, Catalan representatives "feel legitimised to launch all the necessary political and legal actions that will allow them to know the will of the majority of the Catalan people about their political future and, afterwards, to act consequently and following this democratic mandate".

A clear petition to the international community: react and allow Catalans to vote

Finally, the document concludes with a clear and direct petition to the international community and the organisations receiving the complaint: "based on the United Nations' Foundational Charter and the successive international pacts and treaties that guarantee the rights of peoples to decide their political future, we ask the United Nations, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to launch all the necessary actions to guarantee that Catalonia's citizenry can democratically decide its future".

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  • A table collecting signatures backing the international complaint on 9 November (by ACN)

  • A table collecting signatures backing the international complaint on 9 November (by ACN)