Marches mark one year since jailing of Catalan rapper
Hundreds rally to demand release of Pablo Hasel, imprisoned for his tweets and lyrics
Hundreds of people have taken part in marches across Catalonia to demand the release of rapper Pablo Hasel, one year on from his imprisonment for the content of his tweets and lyrics.
In Barcelona, more than 100 protesters gathered at 7pm on Saturday to march from Salvador Espriu Gardens in Gràcia to the Catalan High Court near Arc de Triomf.
There was a large security presence during the march, involving the Catalan police (Mossos d'Esquadra) and Barcelona's Guàrdia Urbana. Police identified a dozen protesters before the march got underway.
The rally ended at 8.45pm, with no further incidents.
Demonstrations also took place in Lleida, Tarragona and Girona, under the banner: 'Overturn repressive laws'.
In the rapper's hometown of Lleida, in the west of Catalonia, around 100 people took part in a rally organized by the Ponent Anti-Repression Platform.
As well as calling for Hasel's release, protesters also criticized the Catalan and Spanish governments, condemned Spain's so-called 'gag law', and shouted slogans in solidarity with all those still facing legal action from the fallout over the 2017 independence push.
The march ended without incident outside the headquarters of the Spanish government in the city.
"They won't bring me to my knees"
In an exclusive interview one year on from his arrest, Hasel told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) that he was "more eager to fight and stronger" than ever. "They won't bring me to my knees," he said.
The musician explained that he has refused to take part in penitentiary programs that would reduce his sentence as they would entail an admission of guilt, something Hasel refuses, describing it as "the goal of repression."
Arrest and protests
On February 16, 2021, at around 8.30am, Hasel was arrested by the Mossos d'Esquadra police after barricading himself inside a building at the University of Lleida.
Found guilty of glorifying terrorism and slandering the monarchy in his songs and tweets, this incident set off a wave of nightly protests in Barcelona and other cities across Catalonia, many of which descended into violent clashes between demonstrators and police.
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