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Second night of protests against rapper's imprisonment

At least 29 people arrested across Catalonia as peaceful rallies descend into riots

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17 February 2021 06:50 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

For a second night in a row, protesters took to the streets of Catalonia on Wednesday to demand the release of the jailed rapper Pablo Hasel.

At least 29 people were arrested in Barcelona, Lleida, Tarragona, and Girona as peaceful marches descended into altercations, with rioters setting barricades on fire and police firing foam bullets.

The pro-independence protest network Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) called people to the Jardinets de Gràcia in Barcelona to "demand freedom" for the Catalan musician before making their way to Plaça Catalunya and Urquinaona squares in the city center. There were also demonstrations in other towns and cities, including the rapper's hometown of Lleida

These demonstrations descended into clashes between police and protesters in the Catalan capital, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona, with dumpsters set on fire and objects thrown at police, who have responded by firing rubber bullets. At least 6 people have been arrested.

On Tuesday night there was also unrest between protesters and police in many cities including Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Vic, with at least 15 arrests made, and at least 33 people receiving medical attention. 17 police officers were also injured.

Young woman loses an eye

One young woman in Barcelona lost an eye during the disturbances on Tuesday. The Irídia Center, which defends civil and political rights and first reported the incident, said the injury was caused by a foam bullet.

According to the group, the injured party is a 19-year-old woman. During the riots, an image of the girl with a bloodied face spread on social media.

Irídia said that "for years" it has been arguing that foam bullets are very dangerous and can lead to serious injuries and "even death". They also believe that police leadership must put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure that there is no unwarranted use of foam bullets.

On Thursday, Catalonia's interior minister Miquel Sàmper said authorities had to "urgently" reconsider the way public order is maintained during tense circumstances. Sàmper also acknowledged that people should be able to protest without fearing bodily harm. 

Rapper arrested

Hasél was arrested at the University of Lleida, in western Catalonia, on Tuesday morning.

Spain's National Court sentenced Hasél to two years and nine months behind bars for two separate cases relating to the content of some of his songs and tweets as they were deemed to be "glorification of terrorism" as well as slandering the crown and Spanish law enforcement.

The rapper barricaded himself inside the university on Monday, after the 10-day window he was granted to turn himself in voluntarily ended.

Pablo Hasél declared himself "satisfied" after his first night in prison, feeling that he has unleashed a "wave of outrage" against Spanish institutions "reminiscent of the Franco dictatorship."

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  • Silhouette of a Catalan riot police officer in front of several burnt-out containers during protests in Barcelona over the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasél, February 16, 2021 (by Miquel Codolar)

  • Dumpsters set on fire at Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona during the second night of demonstrations against the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasel (by Alan Ruiz Terol)

  • People gather in Barcelona for a second night in a row to protest rapper Pablo Hasel's imprisonment (by Alan Ruiz Terol)

  • Silhouette of a Catalan riot police officer in front of several burnt-out containers during protests in Barcelona over the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasél, February 16, 2021 (by Miquel Codolar)
  • Dumpsters set on fire at Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona during the second night of demonstrations against the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasel (by Alan Ruiz Terol)
  • People gather in Barcelona for a second night in a row to protest rapper Pablo Hasel's imprisonment (by Alan Ruiz Terol)

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