Deposed Catalan ministers in Belgium call on citizens to vote “in mass” on December 21
Meritxell Serret, Toni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí spoke at a protest in Brussels to decry the imprisonment of other Catalan pro-independence leaders
A protest was called today in Brussels, Belgium to demand the immediate release of the deposed Catalan ministers and civil society leaders held in custody in the Madrid area. The demonstration was attended by around a thousand protesters, including three of the dismissed ministers themselves: minister of Government Meritxell Serret, minister of Health Toni Comín and minister of Education Clara Ponsatí, along with ERC MEP Josep Maria Terricabras.
Part of the dismissed Catalan ministers currently exiled in Belgium (including ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont), Serret, Comín, and Ponsatí called on Catalans to participate “in mass” in the upcoming December 21 elections. This, the deposed ministers assured, would serve to “restore democracy.”
The demonstration was called by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) in support of the incarcerated ministers and civil society leaders, including the ANC’s own president, Jordi Sànchez, as well as the president of organization Òmnium Cultural and the remaining deposed minister’s own colleagues. There has also been a protest called for December 7 in the Belgian capital by the same civil society entity.
“Those who govern today are the heirs of the Franco regime, but the greatest shame is that they have the support of the Socialists"
Toni Comín · deposed minister of Health
“They cannot silence us, they cannot deny us,” stated Meritxell Serret
“Yesterday, the whole world saw that the people of Catalonia are still standing despite the repression and cruelty of the Spanish government,” proclaimed deposed minister of Government, Meritxell Serret. “And today, the people of Catalonia are still standing in Brussels, and that is the force which, in the coming days, will push us once more towards the place where we’ve always won – at the polls,” she continued.
“We don’t want to do to anyone what they’ve done to us,” said the dismissed minister of Agriculture, adding that she and the other deposed ministers were “continuing to fight.” “They cannot silence us, they cannot deny us, we are a people and we want the rights of any people, and, the main one of all, to decide our future, defend out institutions,” she stated.
The exiled and dismissed ministers also reminded citizens that their support was valued and essential. “Your support, your firmness, your serenity and conviction to go forward are very important,” Serret noted, adding that hers is a "positive" project.
The first step forward is to undo the last step backwards, explained Comín
Dismissed minister of Health Toni Comín explained what it was like for him and his fellow deposed ministers in Brussels to know that their colleagues are in prison. “Every night,” he explained, “when they go to sleep, they cannot kiss their children, they cannot say good morning to their children.” Inasmuch, he stated that “Spain has a serious democracy problem.” Comín further argued that the executives that are imprisoned in Madrid are indeed “political prisoners.” “When a criminal is in jail, have you seen a million people take to the streets?” he asked, referring to the massive march in Barcelona on Saturday November 11.
According to Comín, “the first step forward” that they can take now is to “undo the backwards step” of implementing Article 155 in Catalonia. Another priority, said Comín, is to “end repression and judicial processes.”
Comín: a “fight between authoritarianism and democracy in Catalonia”
Referring to the December 21 elections called by the Spanish government as part of Article 155, Comín said that “it is very important for elections that are unlawful to be turned into legitimate ones through mass voting.” “We will vote, and we will be many, and we will win,” he said, “starting on the 21st, and it will be a very important step.” He further called on all citizens to vote: “On the 21st all of us have to go,” he added, “the 2 million who voted on October 1, and more.” “It will be our first victory in the short term,” he stated.
In addition, he also denounced the role of the European Union in the Catalan crisis, as well as that of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE.) “Listen, Europe, you were founded to ensure that totalitarianism and fascism never returned to the continent,” Comín said, stating that there is currently “a fight between authoritarianism and democracy” in Catalonia. “Those who govern today are the heirs of the Franco regime, but the greatest shame is that they have the support of the Socialists,” he argued.
“Human rights are in danger,” warned Clara Ponsatí
The deposed minister of Education, Clara Ponsatí, warned that “the policies of Putin and Erdogan” are “beginning to become effective from Madrid.” “Human rights are in danger," she said, and also called for mass participation in the elections of December 21. “Let’s demand responsibility from political leaders, demand responsibility from ourselves,” she incited, re-iterating “for no-one to be missing on December 21.”
MEP from the left-wing ERC party Josep Maria Terricabras, also spoke at the protest, asking what more has to happen for Europe to react to the Catalan situation.