Thousands Rally in Barcelona Demanding Release of Detained Politicians

Joann Johnston
April 16, 2018

Hundreds of thousands of Catalan separatists rallied in downtown Barcelona yesterday to demand the release of high-profile secessionist leaders being held in pre-trial detention.

ACCORDING to police figures 315,000 people took to the streets of Barcelona today (Sunday) to demand the release of the Catalan leaders now in prison in Spain.

"But it is not a separatist protest".

The involvement of the Catalan branches of the Worker's Commissions and General Workers' Union was not universally endorsed as some members oppose the region's secession.

"But it is not a separatist protest".

Many protesters chanted "Puigdemont, president!" Spanish and German prosecutors met last week at the headquarters of Eurojust in The Hague.

Supreme court judge Pablo Llarena refused last week to release him from jail and he faces up to 25 years on charges of rebellion, marking the latest of four unsuccessful attempts to elect a new leader.

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The protesters were encouraged to act by Armenian MP Nikol Pashinyan , leader of the opposition Civil Contract party. Sargsyan, whose party holds a majority in parliament, is set to be easily approved for the premiership on Tuesday.

"The interpretation of the references to "Catalonia as a nation" and to "the national reality of Catalonia" in the preamble of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia have no legal effect", the constitutional court had decreed.

Seven other Catalan separatist leaders are in jail in Spain while they await trial for rebellion, along with the two leaders of the grassroots separatist groups.

According to Xavier Domenech's opinion, leader of Catalonia in Comú-Podem, the "transversal mobilization" of this Sunday in the Catalan capital is the way to recover the rights and freedoms, which are being lost, he denounced, by the democratic regression of the Spanish State.

"I took part in all the protests and I never saw an ounce of violence except for that by police when they repressed the referendum", said Juan Jose Cabrero, a 74-year-old pensioner at the protest.

Fresh regional elections will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

Spain's central government imposed direct rule on Catalonia following its unilateral declaration of independence in October.

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