Mass Demonstration Expected for the National Day of Catalonia on September 11

The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) will organize a mass demonstration in Barcelona for the National Day of Catalonia on September 11. This year, the demonstration will start at Plaça d’Urquinaona at 5pm and will end in front of the Catalan Parliament. The banner will be “Let’s fight and win independence.” The intention is to vindicate the 2017 independence referendum and to put pressure on the Catalan pro-independence government to move forward towards independence. 52% of Catalans voted for independence in the last elections.

The organizers have made it clear that the health measures established by the PROCICAT committee will be fully complied with. No prior registration, unlike past years, will be required to participate in the demonstration. The organization also recommends people gather half an hour before the beginning of the demonstration, at 4.30 pm.

Organizers: “There is a need to mobilize again. Pardons for political prisoners are not the solution or the end of the conflict. We are once again showing the world that Catalonia is moving.”

President of the ANC, Elisenda Paluzie: “We need to activate the citizens to put pressure on the institutions and convey that only by fighting will we achieve independence.”

Catalonia Offers to Welcome as Many Afghan Refugees as Necessary

The Catalan pro-independence government has offered to receive as many Afghan refugees as needed. In an interview for ACN, Catalan president Pere Aragonès said that Catalonia is open to help with the “humanitarian emergency” caused in Afghanistan and assume its international obligations: “We have a humanitarian obligation regarding the situation in Afghanistan. We must prepare because there will be a wave of exiles and a need to offer asylum and refuge to hundreds of thousands of people. Catalonia will always be a land of welcome and freedom.”

The President also urged the Spanish government to speed up all procedures to recognize the right of refugees to seek asylum in Catalonia. “Spain must put a lot of resources” into defending the right for international protection,” he added.

The Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Victòria Alsina, also sent a letter to the Spanish authorities urging them to issue humanitarian visas for Afghans in danger.

“Welcoming those who fled their country because their lives are at risk is not an option, it is an international obligation,” a part of the letter reads.

Tania Verge, Minister for Equality and Feminism: “The EU and Spain must comply with the obligation to provide international protection to refugees from Afghanistan. We will continue to have humanitarian crises until we understand that to have peace, it must be built.”

Laura Borràs, Speaker of the Catalan Parliament: “I call on international organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations to act decisively in defense of the Afghan citizens who are victims of this war and, in an even more resolute way, not to forget Afghan women.”

Former Speaker of the Catalan Parliament and Three Former Members of the Bureau Summoned to Testify Before the High Court of Justice of Catalonia on September 15th Over an Alleged Crime of Disobedience for Allowing Two Debates

The former Speaker of the Parliament of Catalonia, Roger Torrent, and the former members of the Bureau, Josep Costa, Eusebi Campdepadrós, and Adriana Delgado, have been summoned to testify before the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), a court controlled by pro-Spain judges, on September 15. They are all under investigation for an alleged crime of disobedience for admitting to proceedings and allowing the text of two resolutions to be debated in a plenary session: one in favor of the right to self-determination, on November 12, 2019, and the other to reprove King Felipe, on November 26, 2019.

The resolutions were supported by the pro-independence parties ERC, Junts, and CUP. One of the texts stressed that parliament “reiterates and will reiterate as many times as MPs choose, the disapproval of the monarchy, the defense of self-determination, and the affirmation of the sovereignty of the people of Catalonia to decide their political future.”

In the writ, they are accused of contravening Spain’s Constitutional Court and authorizing votes that were deemed unlawful. The court says that the ruling of the Spanish Constitutional Court of December 2, 2015, declared unconstitutional and null the resolution 1/XI of the parliament of November 9, 2015, on the beginning of the political process in Catalonia as a result of the outcome of the September 27 elections.

The Constitutional Court agreed to suspend parliamentary resolutions and reminded the Bureau of its duty to prevent and paralyze any parliamentary initiative that ignores or evades this suspension. The court also warned them that they could incur responsibilities, including criminal if they failed to comply. The prosecution considers that the four defendants breached this order when they allowed the two debates. If found guilty of disobedience, they could all face a ban from public office.

In a message posted on social media, Torrent says that “the repressive machinery is still in place to limit and pursue freedom of expression,” and argues that “Parliament is the temple of speech and debate” and that they want to censor it, this “goes against democracy.”

Spain Accused of Spying on Catalans

The “SOURGUM” malicious software package has been used to spy on Catalan citizens, according to Microsoft. The firm says that its intelligence center MSTIC has found out that “the Israeli private-sector actor has been hired by governments in order to spy on over 100 people around the world, including politicians, human rights activists, journalists, academics, embassy workers, and political dissidents.”

Exiled Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and the president of the Catalan cultural organization Òmnium Jordi Cuixart are among the victims. “The Spanish state violates the right to privacy: it is obvious: they know everything about us,” says Cuixart.

The Catalan government has accused the Spanish government of spying on Catalans


President Aragonès: “Afterwards they get angry when they are put at the same level as Turkey in terms of human rights.”

Vice-President Jordi Puigneró: “Controlling Catalans, a curious ‘reconciliation’ agenda led by the Spanish executive.”

This revelation comes a year after The Guardian and El País revealed that the phones of Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent and other pro-independence activists were targeted using the Pegasus spyware that experts say is only sold to governments to track criminals and terrorists.

Spain’s Supreme Court Rejects Precautionary Annulment of Pardons for Catalan leaders

On Tuesday, the Spanish Supreme Court rejected the request from the far-right party Vox and the neoliberal party Ciudadanos (C’s) to annul the pardons for nine Catalan leaders as a precautionary measure while their appeals are assessed. Thus, the contentious administrative chamber ruled out for now ordering the reimprisonment of the nine pro-independence leaders.

The court believes that annulling the pardons as a precautionary measure could lead to “harmful and irreversible situations that could potentially violate the rights of the Catalan leaders,” arguing that the court could end up endorsing the pardons. Therefore, the court concluded that, “in assessing the conflict of interests, the request to suspend the pardons as a precaution pending a final decision is not acceptable.”

The court, however, has not ruled yet on the legitimacy of Ciudadanos (C’s) and Vox’s appeals against the pardons because this issue is not part of the resolution of precautionary measures, as stated by the Spanish state attorney. There are many doubts among jurists as to whether the parties are entitled to file appeals on pardons. For this reason, the appeal of C’s was presented by three MPs who were in the Parliament of Catalonia during the pro-independence push in 2017.

Spain’s Court of Auditors Claims Millions of Euros from 40 Former Catalan Officials

On Tuesday, the conservative Spanish Court of Auditors claimed 5.4 million euros as financial guarantees from some 40 former Catalan government officials for allegedly promoting independence abroad from 2011 to 2017. These financial guarantees are additional to others previously requested by the same court.

In total, the auditing body claims from former president Artur Mas and former finance minister Andreu Mas-Colell 2.8 million euros, as well as 1.9 million euros from former president Carles Puigdemont and former vice president Oriol Junqueras. All this corresponds to allegedly irregular expenses in the framework of the promotion of the process of independence around the world.

The official most affected by this case is the former Secretary General of Diplocat, a semipublic consortium aimed at fostering Catalonia’s interests abroad, Albert Royo, who faces a claim of 3.6 million euros.

Former foreign affairs minister Raül Romeva faces 2.1 million euros and former government’s spokesperson Francesc Homs 2.9 million euros, while auditors Mireia Vidal and Rosa Vidal 3.1 million and 1.8 million, respectively.

As for the rest, including former secretaries general and several government delegates abroad, they face lower quantities, though still huge.

The assets of all the former officials affected by this case will be seized if they aren’t able to pay the financial guarantees within the next two weeks.

The victims’ lawyers described it as an “arbitrary procedure.” Puigdemont’s lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, denounced the procedure as a “mockery” and stated that he had never felt such “helplessness” before.

NOTE: The Spanish Court of Auditors is not formed by judges as other courts, but mostly by politicians, including former ministers, who were appointed by the conservative political party PP during prior administrations.

Dead former official requested to pay 22,725 euros

Maryse Olivé, former official of the government of Catalonia in France, who died in 2017, has been requested to pay 22,725 euros. The Court of Auditors now wants her daughter, Chantal Olivé, to pay for it, though she has not been accused of any crime or irregularity.

Exiled President and MEP Carles Puigdemont will take this case to Belgian justice

“We will use all mechanisms to demand responsibility for this action. A complaint or a lawsuit. We will spare no effort, because it is clearly an abuse,” said Puigdemont’s lawyer Boye.

“Puigdemont’s residence is currently fixed in Waterloo, Belgium, meaning he will suffer the consequences of this court ruling there. Thus, he will have to bring the case to Belgian justice to find a solution to this abusive action by the Court of Auditors,” added the lawyer.

33 Nobel Prize winners against Court of Auditors’ case

33 Nobel Prize winners including Joseph Stiglitz, Gorge Akerlof, Robert Aumann, Angus Deaton, Esther Duflo, and Eugene Fama have shown their support for former finance minister Andreu Mas-Colell and have described the action of the Court of Auditors against him as unfair.

The Spanish Government Grants Pardons for 9 Jailed Catalan Leaders the Day after the Council of Europe Demanded the Liberation of Catalan Political Prisoners, the Return of Exiles, and the End of Repression

On Tuesday, the Spanish government granted partial and reversible pardons for the nine jailed Catalan leaders Jordi Cuixart, Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Jordi Sànchez, Joaquim Forn, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, and Raül Romeva in response to international pressure. It came a day after the Council of Europe demanded the liberation of Catalan political prisoners, the withdrawal of extradition orders against exiles, and the end of repression.

The pardons are partial, meaning that the nine leaders are still barred from holding public office for nearly a decade, and reversible in the sense that they will be suspended if the leaders commit a “serious crime” in the coming years or if any of the prisoners exercise the fundamental rights that landed them in prison in the first place. In the cases of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, this was holding a peaceful demonstration.

Council of Europe

On Monday, the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe approved a report by its Committee on Legal Affairs on the situation of political leaders behind bars in Spain and Turkey by 70 votes in favor, 28 against, and 12 abstentions. They demanded the release of the Catalan political prisoners, the withdrawal of the extradition orders against exiles, among others, and the end of repression. They also overturned one by one and by a large majority the amendments of Spain’s PSOE and PP representatives who wanted to reduce the report’s critical content. Spanish efforts to water down the report failed.

The document approved by the Council of Europe is also important because it can be used as a precedent in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Political prisoners have already begun bringing appeals against their prison sentences for weeks. They expect the Strasbourg verdict to result in the annulation of their sentences, which could be a major blow to Spanish justice.

Pardons not a solution to the conflict

The pardons granted for nine jailed Catalan leaders on Tuesday are not a realistic solution to the ongoing conflict. There are still exiles and over 3,300 Catalans currently enduring judicial proceedings, including officials, and thousands of activists and normal people across the country. Thus, the conflict is expected to continue until their situation is resolved and the demands of an astonishing majority of 80% of Catalans, demanding amnesty and self-determination, are heard.

Political Prisoner Jordi Cuixart Case Affects “Rights of the Whole of European Society”

On Tuesday, the Catalan cultural organization Òmnium Cultural held an event to explain the recent decision of its jailed President, Jordi Cuixart, to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). He is currently serving nine years in prison after being found guilty of sedition for participating in a peaceful demonstration a few days before the 2017 independence referendum.

“The Spanish state has misused its power to harm a political adversary. There has been a use of the powers of the State to judicially prosecute political dissent. The right to demonstrate should not be limited by political opression. The objective was not to apply the law, but to find a pretext to keep Cuixart away from the protests and weaken Òmnium Cultural,” said the lawyer Olivier Peter.

Olivier predicts a “defeat for the State, invoking international pressure.” He also referred to the votes of Juan Antonio Xiol and María Luisa Balaguer, judges on Spain’s Constitutional Court, who stated that the prison sentence by the Supreme Court violated Cuixart’s right to assembly and personal and ideological freedom. He also believes that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will resolve his client’s case “rapidly.”

“Cuixart’s case will have effects on the fundamental rights of the whole of European society. He was convicted of sedition for exercising the right to demonstrate and for exercising freedom of expression after a trial full of irregularities, and therefore, we are facing an unprecedented case. He was imprisoned and convicted for exercising fundamental rights,” said the lawyer.

“There will be either a condemnation of Spain or a condemnation of democracy,” said the Vice-president of Òmnium, Marcel Mauri. “The case of Cuixart is the case of democracy, and it is essential to continue working for self-determination,” he added.

The event was attended by Ed Donovan, advisor to the United Nations Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders; Masha Chichchenkova, Coordinator of Protection to Europe of Front Line Defenders; Giada Negri from the European Civic Forum; the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jody Williams, from the United States; the president of PEN International, Jennifer Clement, from Mexico, and Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organization Against Torture, from Geneva.

Spain’s General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) Rules that Justification of Francoism Is Protected by Freedom of Expression

On Monday, the plenary of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), the governing body of Spain’s justice system, showed their support with 15 votes in favor and 6 against, for a report prepared by judges Roser Bach and Wenceslao Olea, ruling that justification of Francoism is protected by freedom of expression.

The report also questions whether Francisco Franco’s foundation can be outlawed for justifying or defending the dictatorship of Franco and for the incitement of hatred, and violence against the victims of the 1936 coup d’etat.

“A defense of Francoism is the expression of ideas that, despite being contrary to the values of the 1978 Spanish Constitution, are protected by freedom of expression if there is not an additional element of humiliation for the victims,” the report says.

This is a position very different from that taken by Germany, in which justification of Nazism or denying the Holocaust is punishable with up to five years in prison to honor the memory of the victims.

The judiciary also proposes that the definition of a victim of the Civil War and the dictatorship have a “strictly administrative” nature, because “historical truth is not part of the criminal process.”

Spain’s Right-Wing and Far-Right Launch a Massive Propaganda Campaign Against Pardons for Jailed Catalan Leaders

Spain’s right-wing and far-right are preparing a legal and propaganda battle against a decision by the Spanish government to grant pardons for jailed Catalan leaders over the 2017 push for independence. Such a pardon would serve the Spanish executive by improving the international image of Spain, as well as to help perpetuate it in power, but it would not resolve the ongoing crisis, which requires amnesty and self-determination.

The right-wing PP and the far-right Vox have announced that they will take the pardons to the Spanish Supreme Court when they are granted. In parallel, PP will also collect signatures and file motions in all town councils across the country to symbolically reject the pardons. Both measures were already used by the right-wing against the Statue of Autonomy of Catalonia in 2006. This statue was backed by most Catalans and Spain’s Congress, but was partially nullified after PP took it to the Constitutional Court. This began Catalonia’s latest push for independence.

This time, the Supreme Court has also aligned with the right-wing, ruling that there are no arguments for the public utility for the government to grant pardons, which have been described as “self-pardons,” given that the beneficiaries would be members of parties that currently support Spain’s coalition government (PSOE-UP), who in turn are the ones who have to decide on the pardons. Most judges of the Supreme Court were appointed by past conservative administrations.

The Government’s Stability

The pardons would threaten the stability of the government of Spain’s PM Sánchez. However, he doesn’t have any other option since he still needs the support of pro-independence forces to keep in power.

Sánchez’s position within his on party, PSOE, is also at stakes. A number of well-known leaders have aligned with the right-wing and far-right against the pardons. Former PM Felipe González and the territorial leaders Guillermo Fernández Vara, in Extremadura, and Emiliano García Paje, in Castilla-La Mancha, have publicly opposed the measure and threaten Sanchez’s stability. They have all often embraced far-right stances against Catalonia, which has often given them good results in past elections.

A group of members of the party has also submitted a letter to the Commission of Guarantees asking it to ensure compliance with the party’s statutes and try to prevent the Spanish government from pardoning political prisoners without first consulting the party members. They threaten to take legal action if their demands are not met.

With the help of the Supreme Court, the Spanish nationalists are repeating the same mistakes that led to the rise of the independence movement with the Statute, which is still ongoing. Pedro Sánchez will have to decide what answer he wants to give now to the Catalan issue and what alliances he wants to embrace in the coming years.

As for the right-wing and far-right, their strategy of misinformation, hatred, and confrontation is likely to bear results. According to recent polls, they could win the next Spanish election with the possibility of getting an absolute majority.