The Catalan question
Sir, – As an Irish person living in Spain, I am shocked by the attitude of many Spaniards and in particular the mainstream Spanish press in relation to the recent events in Catalonia.
The consensus here seems to be that Catalan people who wanted to vote in a referendum for independence were breaking the law and got what they deserved.
The Spanish government has stated that police acted appropriately and upheld democracy.
The EU, presumably out of self-interest, is ignoring breaches of human rights in refusing to condemn the actions of the Spanish government.
The law the Catalan people are supposedly breaking is the law of a state they no longer wish to be a part of!
If so many people are that outraged and determined to fight for political change and the right to self-determination then surely they must be acknowledged and listened to?
To suppress brutally the most basic expression of democracy and then to call yourself the one upholding law and democracy, and to condemn those who wish to vote anti-democratic and lawbreakers, is doublespeak at its finest. The sad thing is that there seems to be a lot of support for this way of thinking from the public outside Catalonia. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The violence shown by Spanish police, at the behest of the national government, against the Catalan people is reprehensible. Everything possible was done to block the independence vote, from closing websites, confiscating ballot papers to sending ship-loads of police to the port of Barcelona.
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy dismissed the vote as illegal and praised the Spanish police for its “serenity”.
He crossed a line that the Catalan people are sure not to forget.
The scenes of police attacking the firemen who were protecting voters, smashing doors to polling centres, and kicking and beating peaceful voters armed only with roses was shocking. How can this happen on the streets of a European city without any apparent sanction by the EU?
The EU has now backed Mr Rajoy by saying the vote was illegal and that the Spanish constitution must prevail.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has also trotted out a similar line.
Thus the scene is now set for Mr Rajoy and Spain to ride roughshod over Catalonia without any protection from Europe.
Indeed, the EU was quick to remind Catalonia, like Scotland, that an independent Catalonia would be outside the EU.
Whether or not the majority of Catalans would have backed independence is now a moot point. Mr Rajoy has ignited the embers and recruited a new generation to the independence movement.
Sadly, he is now likely to feel fully empowered by the EU and the EU leaders, including Ireland’s, to try and repress any such movement.
As an Irish and European citizen, I am ashamed that we can stand by and tolerate this repression for political expediency. Ireland should know better than most the costs of repressing the basic human right of freedom of expression. – Yours, etc,
Dr ALLAN MEE,
Sir, – The Spanish government’s description of the referendum as being farcical is an apt one.
However, the Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s swaggering, bellicose, and disproportionate response to events is irresponsible and dangerous.
Rather than showing up the election to be an unconstitutional, corruption-prone event that misrepresented a large proportion of the Catalan population, Mr Rajoy’s actions have legitimised the multitude of public demonstrations of protest that are now certain to follow.
That the local Catalan police is unlikely to follow orders to break up any such demonstrations with force presents a further problem.
Mr Rajoy has shown his hand as to what he will see as an appropriate response – denunciations of perceived illegality and the deployment of external units of riot police.
One is not required to have too much imagination to understand the consequences of such actions, most especially should one arrive at the reasonable conclusion that armed elements of the Catalan police may be prepared to protect the civilians that they serve from further abuse.
Action is immediately required so as to facilitate dialogue between the elected representatives of Catalonia, and those of greater Spain, and this must be overseen and monitored by the EU. –Yours, etc,