Student strike and protests in support of imprisoned rapper Hasel

‘Amnesty’ for jailed-politicians and freeing musician among requests

Students walk through central Barcelona, in a strike in support of rapper Pablo Hasel, on February 19, 2021 (by Cristina Tomàs White)
Students walk through central Barcelona, in a strike in support of rapper Pablo Hasel, on February 19, 2021 (by Cristina Tomàs White) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 19, 2021 01:26 PM

The Sindicat d'Estudiants dels Països Catalans (SEPC), a left-wing pro-independence students’ union, called a strike on Friday to protest the rapper Pablo Hasel’s imprisonment. Taking place throughout the main Catalan cities of Barcelona, Lleida, Tarragona, and Girona, students’ demands include “amnesty” for jailed-leaders and freeing rapper Hasél and those imprisoned during days of protests, which started on February 16.

The strike included several student marches, such as one in Barcelona, beginning at noon. Around 200 students gathered, marching to the Spanish police station in the city’s Via Laietana, with protesters throwing firecrackers and eggs at the building.

The protesters held placards, whilst chanting the words “Llibertat Pablo Hasel,” (Freedom for Pablo Hasel) a phrase that has echoed throughout the streets of Catalan and Spanish cities in protests and riots since the artists’ arrest.

Before the march, some 30 students occupied the rectory of the University of Barcelona (UB).

SEPC demands more action from universities

The SEPC has formalized many of the demands being made during these previous acts from their social media; specifically, they want universities to position themselves clearly on the issue of the rapper’s imprisonment. 

Under the slogan “Amnesty and independence. Universities for freedom.” the SEPC focuses its demands mainly on universities, for example, they want “an explicit stance against police in all centers of education, which limit freedom of expression”. 

As well as this, they call for an amnesty for the jailed and exiled Catalan leaders who organized the 2017 referendum. 

Protests have also been planned by the SEPC for 7 pm on the same day in the center of Barcelona. 

Why has unrest exploded in Catalonia

Pablo Hasel, a Catalan rapper, was arrested on February 16, 2021, after barricading himself inside Lleida University, projecting him into the limelight. His conviction obliged him to enter jail within a 10-day period, with which he failed to comply. The charges against him included “glorifying terrorism”, and “slander against the crown” in his tweets and songs

Thousands took to the street to protest, and have done so since his imprisonment, so far amounting to three nights of disturbances. In the latest wave on Thursday, eight people were arrested for “public disorder”, with newspaper offices being destroyed, and items on the street set on fire.

The use of foam projectiles by the Catalan police has been a cause of controversy since the unrest began in Catalonia, with a 19-year-old girl losing an eye on the first night of riots in Barcelona. This has led to students demanding for them to be banned.