Protests in Barcelona demand freedom for prisoners

President makes surprise appearance at one calling on people to “defend dignity of Catalonia”

President Quim Torra during event calling for freedom for jailed leaders (by ACN)
President Quim Torra during event calling for freedom for jailed leaders (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

May 23, 2018 08:29 PM

People have taken to the streets in the Catalan capital tonight and elsewhere throughout the country to demand  the freedom of jailed officials, sent to pre-trial prison for a second time two months ago. This happened throughout various protests, including a performance for incarcerated leaders and a demonstration focusing on the two jailed women, Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa. In total, there are nine Catalan politicians and grassroots leaders behind bars.

“No woman forgotten”

Forcadell was Roger Torrent’s predecessor as Parliament speaker before being deposed alongside other members of the Carles Puigdemont cabinet. Dolors Bassa was minister for labour, social affairs and family. During her first imprisonment, Forcadell spent just one night in jail before before paying bail.

At the protest focused on women, more than 250 people turned up at the Plaça d’Espanya in the Catalan capital, calling for freedom for Forcadell and Bassa, and also justice for those abroad; Marta Rovira, Anna Gabriel, Meritxell Serret and Clara Ponsatí. The protest was organized by Women for the Republic, under the slogan “No woman forgotten.”

President makes appearance

The president of the Catalan government, Quim Torra, mada an appearance at another protest held in Barcelona calling for the freedom of “political prisoners.”

Torra arrived without any prior announcement, surprising most people present at the demonstration. The citizen mobilization was held at the Plaça del Rei in Barcelona, and included a musical performance in honor of those detained, and ended with a minute of silence.

"From prison, they defend the dignity of Catalonia,” he said in his short intervention at the event, referring to jailed pro-independence leaders. “We have to do the same from outside. We will leave, we will win, they will be free, and our people also.”

Justice for Valtonyc

Meanwhile, also in the centre of Barcelona, another group of protesters called for justice for the Mallorcan rapper Valtonyc. More than 200 people attended the demonstration.

The convicted rapper warned on Wednesday that he would "not make it easy" for the Spanish authorities to put him in prison, because “disobeying is legitimate and obligatory against a fascist state.” The artist, who was found guilty of glorifying terrorism, slander and defamation against the crown over the content of his lyrics, regretted on Twitter that tomorrow the authorities will have to "break down" his door to put him prison "over some songs."

Some press reports not officially confirmed by the artist suggest he has left Spain and is currently in a different European country, following the example of Catalan pro-independence politicians who are currently fighting extradition in Belgium, Germany, Scotland and Switzerland.

Criminilization of teachers

Protests were also held throughout Catalonia, in places such as Tarragona and Lleida, against the "criminilization" of teachers in the country.