One month later, pro-independence grass-root leaders are still in prison awaiting trial
Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart are behind bars while under investigation for sedition
On October 16, the two leaders of the two pro-independence civic organizations, Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, arrived at the Soto del Real prison in Madrid around 11pm. Held without bail, they are under investigation for sedition, after being accused of “seditiously” mobilizing people on September 20 and 21 and asking citizens to protest in front of polling stations on October 1.
One month later, Sànchez and Cuixart are still in prison awaiting trial. According to Spanish law, they could spend at least two years in preventive prison.
Accused of “seditiously" mobilizing people
The judge stated that Sànchez and Cuixart "seditiously" mobilized people on September 20 and 21, when fourteen high-ranking officials of the Catalan government were arrested and thousands had gathered peacefully in the streets to protest the arrests.
During that same day, the Spanish Guardia civil police also carried out raids in Catalan government buildings. Sànchez and Cuixart are also accused of asking citizens to protest in front of polling stations on October 1.
Under Spanish criminal law, a sedition conviction carries jail sentences of between 4 and 15 years. According to article 544 of the Criminal Code, sedition charges may be attributed to those that rise up “publicly and tumultuously” to prevent the application of laws or the work of authorities “by force or illegally”.
But those demonstrations were far from being the first massive gatherings organized by ANC and Òmnium. Indeed, the two groups were responsible for organizing the massive and peaceful pro-Yes demonstrations of the last few years.
Sànchez to run as candidate in 21 December election
Despite being jailed, the president of ANC, Jordi Sànchez, will join President Carles Puigdemont as a candidate on the pro-independence ‘Together for Catalonia’ (‘Junts per Catalunya’) ticket in the December 21 election. The president of the ANC plans to announce it in the next few hours through a letter to the members of the organization.
"They wanted us to be divided, and we are more united than ever”
Jordi Cuixart · President of Òmnium Cultural
“More united than ever”
In contrast, the president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, will not run as a candidate on any political party's electoral list in the December 21st election because he wants his group to remain as “non-partisan” as possible. However, Cuixart said that it’s important to have “maximum respect for the work of political parties.”
Indeed, he sent a letter from prison to the Òmnium members in which he thanked them for the work that they are doing and the "warmth" that he’s receiving from prison “day after day”.
But Cuixart’s letter, written on November 10, also had a strong political message: "They wanted us to be divided, and we are more united than ever,” he said. Cuixart wrote that he reads the letters that he receives from citizens “every night” and pointed out that he considers himself “the most fortunate man on the planet.”
“An unfair and unfounded imprisonment”
The president of Òmnium Cultural highlighted that he’s feeling well and that both he and Sànchez are treated as “common prisoners”, but insisted that he’s suffering an “unfair and unfounded” imprisonment.
Cuixart also defended Catalan government institutions, which he considers have received an "unprecedented" attack. According to him, the Catalan people’s answer has to be “more calm, more civic and more peaceful than ever, but with full courage and determination.”
Support for pro-independence organizations grows
Support for pro-independence civil society organizations in Catalonia has soared since the October 1 referendum. According to the two groups, their membership numbers started rising during the run-up to the independence referendum.
Indeed, the two organizations grew even more when their presidents were sent to prison a month ago on sedition charges. At present, Òmnium Cultural has 85,689 members in total. Over the past six weeks, it has gained some 14,000 new members. For its part, the ANC has some 45,000 dues-paying members and an additional 40,000 non-paying associate members. It gained 4,500 new members over the past few weeks.
The beginning of a long process of hearings and imprisonments
The imprisonment of Cuixart and Sànchez is just the beginning of a long process of hearings and even imprisonments of Catalan leaders. After Cuixart and Sànchez, the next Catalan leaders to be jailed were the Catalan vice-president and seven ministers.