Mass Protest in Catalonia against Arrest of Secessionist Leaders

Cheryl Sanders
October 18, 2017

Spain's top court ruled Tuesday that an independence referendum in Catalonia was unconstitutional, adding weight to government efforts to block the region from breaking away from the rest of the country, while demonstrators demanded the release of two jailed separatist activists. Otherwise, the government may seize control of the semi-autonomous region, moving the conflict with the region to another level. Regional leaders defied the Madrid-based central government and held the October 1 vote even after police seized millions of ballots and used force to close polling stations.

It could allow Madrid to suspend Puigdemont's regional government and eventually trigger new elections in Catalonia, but the move would risk further escalating a crisis that has sparked huge street rallies, rattled stock markets and deeply anxious Spain's European Union partners.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called on party colleagues of Catalonia's pro-independence president to convince him to back down on the region's push for independence from Spain.

Puigdemont issued a cryptic "suspended" declaration of independence following the referendum, saying he wanted time for talks with the government - a prospect Madrid has rejected. "There are more of us every day", Elias Houariz, a 22-year-old baker, told AFP at the rally.

While the number of people likely to move from Catalonia to the Spanish capital would be only a tiny portion of Sabadell's 26,000 employees, such a decision would be a new blow for the Catalan government, which has said the business exodus was purely temporary and would soon be reverted.

A Madrid judge on Monday provisionally jailed Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leaders of grassroots organizations Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural.

"We have shown in Catalonia that citizenship is bigger than any ideas".

Turull said in his radio interview that "this isn't a matter of independence or not, but of democracy, of having political prisoners in the 21st century".

Thousands of workers in Barcelona and other cities had also staged a brief walkout earlier Tuesday in protest at the detentions.

Guardiola was politically involved in the campaign for the independence of Catalonia.

Other reports by iNewsToday