Jailed Catalan Leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull Go On Indefinite Hunger Strike

The Catalan political prisoners Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull, leaders awaiting trial for last year’s referendum, announced earlier this Saturday they were starting an indefinite hunger strike to protest over their treatment by Spanish courts.

Official Declaration of Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull from Lledoners Prison 

<< We denounce:

the blockade of European justice that the Constitutional Court imposes upon us

Timely access to the courts without delay or unnecessary obstacles is a right that every person has. Failure to exercise this right with full guarantees and in fair conditions can lead to irreparable damages and damages to fundamental rights.

The cause investigated by the Spanish State on the Referendum of October 1, evidences a lot of affectations on our fundamental rights, including the presumption of innocence, freedom, political rights and the rule of law, a judicial process with all due guarantees. The violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are quite prominent in many of the resolutions that both the Supreme Court and the National Court have issued against us since October 16, 2017, when the first pre-trial detention orders were issued.

Our determination to have a fair, lawful trial is stronger than ever. We have not ceased to appeal all those violations of our rights that the Spanish courts have committed. But it is the international courts, and in particular the European Court of Human Rights, where today we deposit the trust to get justice.

The Constitutional Court (CC), however, blocks our access to European justice. The action of the CC is as simple as blatant: to accept 100% of our appeals for constitutional protection of fundamental rights, to be processed later on in order not to resolve any of them.

According to official data of the CC, the accepted number of appeals ranged between 1% and 1.5% of the total number of those presented. In our case, they are filed 100%, then forgotten in a drawer. The Spanish legislation (Criminal Procedure Act) and the doctrine of the same Constitutional Court, stipulate that the appeals against pretrial detention orders must enjoy preferential processing and must be resolved within a maximum period of 30 days. The first appeal for constitutional protection of our fundamental rights, accepted by the Constitutional Court against the pre-trial detention order decreed by the National Court, was filed on November 22, 2017, more than 365 days ago. An unjustified delay, and more so if we keep in mind the records of quick resolutions resolved by the Constitutional Court in several occasions, where it has met even on a weekend and only 24 hours after its intervention has been requested.

We ask for an impartial and diligent Constitutional Court, which should not impede the exercise of our rights. We denounce the blockade that the Spanish Constitutional Court de facto imposes upon us to access the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). We reaffirm our determination, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights, to fully exercise our defense rights. We will never give up on our right to a fair trial.

We do not ask the Constitutional Court for any treatment of favor. But we do not passively accept any discrimination or unwarranted procrastination. The question is not even that the Court would rule in our favor, but simply that the appeals presented would be unblocked (by being not admitted or by simply being rejected). Only in this way, will the road to access Euro- pean justice be opened to us. We are well aware that the longer it takes for us to access the European Court of Human Rights, regaining our freedom will take longer as well.

We denounce the blockade of European justice imposed on us by the Constitutional Court. And we do so with all the strength and dignity of a line of political action strongly rooted in non- violence. Thus, we will resort to one of the few legitimate forms of protest that being imprisoned allows us; by conducting a hunger strike.

We will not do it against anyone, but in favor of creating awareness and fostering action to prevent the acceptance of something that is not normal as normal. The irregular functioning of the Constitutional Court is of severe seriousness in a State of Law. And that must appeal to all democrats, whichever their political choices are.

We ask for the attention and support of all the democratic people of Catalonia, Spain, Europe, and the World. We invite you to preserve the civic and peaceful attitude that has made us so strong over these years. We urge the”Smile Revolution” to flourish through events that will continue to be celebrated in Catalonia in the form of concentrations, “yellow dinners”, and concerts in the coming days and weeks. And we also ask for our hunger strike not to alter the spirit or celebration that these dates, close to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, bring to the majority of us.

We are grateful, finally, for the solidarity of all women and men who feel interpellated and committed to the effective defense of rights and freedoms, personal and collective.

 Together for dignity and until freedom is reached!

 Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull

Prison of Lledoners, December 1, 2018. >>

Advertisements

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) Demands the Immediate Release of Jailed Catalan Leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez

The largest network of NGOs against torture and inhumane treatment in the world, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), has called for the immediate release of two jailed Catalan leaders; Òmnium Cultural’s president Jordi Cuixart and the former President of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Jordi Sànchez.

The OMCT demands that accusations against the two jailed Catalan leaders be dropped, considering that they are unfounded. They also argue that keeping them in pre-trial jail is a restriction of their fundamental rights.

In the letter, which focuses on Jordi Cuixart, and is signed by Secretary General of the OMCT, Gerald Staberock, the organization calls for an end to the harassment against Cuixart and Sànchez and seeks to guarantee their right to a fair trial.

Another concern for the OMCT is that these two leaders of civil society will be tried in the Spanish Supreme Court. This is worrisome, especially when recalling the latest controversies about how the members of the high court are appointed, which cast doubt on the separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers.

The OMCT believes that the political nature of the trial against the Catalan leaders is highlighted by the participation of the far right Vox party as a private prosecution.

The letter also points out that Cuixart has appealed to the courts for release on several occasions but “with no success,” and argues that to be “compatible with international standards,” pre-trial imprisonment “must only be applied as a last resort.”

The OMCT recalls that the right to freedom of assembly consecrates the freedom to meet, debate, and discuss whenever the organizers of the meeting have peaceful intentions, means, and ways. Additionally, at this point, the entity emphasizes that the term “peaceful” must be understood as a behavior “that can annoy or offend, and even prevent or hinder third-party activities.”

The OMCT already publicly condemned the “indiscriminate and excessive use of force by the police in Catalonia during last year’s independence referendum” and called for an immediate and impartial investigation.

READ the full statement here

The Catalan Police Group Guilleries Warns that Spain’s Police Agents Participate in Far-Right Unionist Squads

On Friday, the Catalan police group, Guilleries, released a statement on Twitter where they reported that agents of the Spanish police Civil Guard had participated in a unionist far-right group meeting that had acted across Girona’s region (Catalonia) over the last few months. 

On Tuesday night, the Catalan police were alerted by an unnamed local source neighborhood of a far-right group meeting in a bar in Figueres (Girona) that was allegedly preparing to remove Independence symbology and yellow ribbons from numerous towns across the region of Girona.

When the Mossos arrived, they observed that two men from the group left the bar and got in a black color car. That’s when Catalan police followed and intercepted them. The surprise was when the two men in the car identified themselves as agents of the Spanish police Civil Guard.

According to the Mossos, these two agents were “nervous and cooperated very little.” They refused to give any explanation about why they were participating in a far-right group meeting. In this regard matter, the Catalan police demand that the Spanish Ministry for Home Affairs clarify what tasks are being carried out by the hundreds of Spanish police agents deployed across Catalonia that are not part of the ordinary staff. “It would be unacceptable that public resources are being spent to integrate police officers into squads aimed at provoking civil strife.” The Guilleries group of Mossos warns of the presence of Civil Guards infiltrated in extremist unionist squads.

Captura.PNG

The Spanish “Socialist” Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP) to Reach an Agreement on the New Composition of the General Council of the Spanish Judicial Power (CGPJ)

The Spanish “Socialist” Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP) are negotiating over the new composition of the General Council of the Spanish Judicial Power (CGPJ), the governing body of the judiciary, as well as the presidency of the Supreme Court. The new appointments to the CGPJ  are scheduled for early December. Twenty members will be appointed: twelve by magistrates and eight by political parties in the Spanish Congress with a qualified majority of three fifths. 

The PSOE needs the PP for the renewal of the GCPJ given that it requires the aforementioned super-majority of three-fifths in the Spanish Congress. The negotiations between the PP and the PSOE began early this August though no final agreement has yet been reached.

The PP has proposed Manuel Marchena, the current President of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, to replace Carlos Lesmes at the head of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ). The name Marchena has political significance. He currently presides over the chamber that will judge the Catalan leaders and political prisoners who were involved in last year’s independence referendum. He will also be the one to announce the final sentences against them. Though not officially decided yet, the PSOE will propose someone like the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court, Encarnación Roca. However, the PSOE could end up accepting the PP’s proposal given that the deadline for proposing the members of the new CGPJ is today, and it needs the support of the PP. It’s believed that failing to reach an agreement would weaken the PSOE.

The PSOE is planning to give Unidos Podemos one of the names of the ten judges that they will nominate. Apparently, Podemos will choose Victoria Rosell. Thus Podemos appears to support this flagrant violation of the separation of powers in Spain that they once strongly criticized.

The Spanish Government won’t involve the Catalan pro-independence parties in the renewal of the Spanish judiciary, although the Catalan Government didn’t intend to participate in any case. The Catalan administration believes that the twenty members of the CGPJ should be elected by the judges, and not by parties. The renewal of the Council of the Spanish Judiciary comes on the eve of the trial against the Catalan political prisoners over last year’s independence referendum and after the scandal of the sentence of the mortgages that have buried the prestige of the high court, which makes clear the inexistent separations of powers in the Spanish State.

Given that a significant number of judges of the CGPJ, the governing body of the judges, are directly appointed by the two major political parties in the Spanish Congress, who can guarantee that the Catalan political prisoners will have a fair trial? On the contrary, it appears that the sentence against the Catalan leaders will be a political decision that is expected to be a tough one.

The Spanish Supreme Court Violates Fundamental Rights of the Catalan Leaders who will Be Tried over Last Year’s Independence Referendum

On Thursday, the Spanish Supreme Court officially finished the inquiry of the referendum case and opened the phase of the trial against 18 Catalan leaders, including the political prisoners who have already spent over a year unfairly imprisoned. The Court, which has accepted Judge Llarena’s findings, will try the Catalan leaders for rebellion, misuse of public funds, and disobedience. The prosecutor’s office and the private prosecutor VOX party have had five calendar days since last Thursday to announce the proposed sentences after which the defense will have five additional days to present arguments calling for the acquittal of the Catalan leaders. This process is expected to end between November 7th and 15th. 

The trial is expected to begin in January with two daily sessions, morning and afternoon, during which the political prisoners will be transferred to Madrid prisons. This will last between two and three months and the defense is seeking to televise it in order to provide international coverage of a trial they believe to be a farce. The rapidity of the Supreme Court in opening the trial in such a complex case, where the defense has not had access to all the necessary documentation to prepare for it, clearly violates the fundamental rights of the Catalan political prisoners and the rest of the defendants. 

The Spanish Supreme Court has dismissed more than three hundred requests for the inclusion of evidence, documents, and testimony such as the information of the ICS on the number of people injured the Oct. 1 by the police with details of clinical diagnosis of each case, the inclusion of numerous videos from the first of October, the provision of medical experts on the injuries of agents who intervened in the October 1st referendum to know how they were done, or the declarations of Méndez de Vigo on September 22 in which he spoke of tumultuous actions anticipating the criminal complaint for sedition and rebellion against the jailed Catalan leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart presented shortly after by the prosecutor of the Spanish Court.

In addition, Judge Llarena has disallowed the inclusion of evidence from other courts that have also investigated facts over the independence referendum case such as the summary of testimonies collected at Court No. 13 and No.7 in Barcelona. Llarena argues that the facts investigated by these courts “do not have any procedural connection” with the matters being considered by the Supreme Court, and that a “documentary avalanche would only delay the beginning of the trial sessions.” Additionally, the defense for the prisoners has also complained about the difficulty of accessing the documentation included in the summary as well as the malfunctioning of the so-called “virtual cloud” from which they couldn’t consult the full documentation of the summary. 

The Supreme Court’s dismissal of evidence and important documentation to the case, arguing that the trial would then be extended, clearly violates the human rights of all the prisoners and defendants and shows a lack of guarantees in what is expected to be a trial for political motivations. Thus, it appears that the prison sentences against the Catalan political prisoners have already been written before the trial has even started and that the trial itself will be a mere performance. In the meantime, this is also expected to be an important opportunity for pro-independence leaders to demonstrate the nonexistence of the crimes of rebellion, misuse of public funds, and disobedience that they are being accused of, as well as the constant violations of human rights perpetrated by the Spanish State against them. 

The eagerness of the Spanish State to destroy the pro-independence movement is likely to fail and backfire on them. This unfair trial is expected to cause widespread indignation through Catalan society, and those people will likely take to the streets in mass numbers in an attempt to push the Catalan government to implement the republic and call for its peaceful defense. This could hit or even collapse the Spanish and EU economies, forcing the EU to recognize Catalonia as a new State or forcing the negotiation of an agreed self-determination referendum.

The Spanish Government and Podemos Launch a Coordinated Blackmail Campaign against Independentists in order to Approve the 2019 Spanish State General Budget

Over the last few weeks, the Spanish “socialist” government and the “left-wing” party Podemos have launched a coordinated blackmail campaign against the Catalan government and pro-independence parties in order to approve the 2019 Spanish General State Budget. With the help of their regional brands, both the Catalan “Socialist” Party (PSC) and Catalunya en Comú Podem (CeC) are openly demanding independentism to support the Spanish Budget for nothing in exchange. According to them, the approval of the budget is necessary for the dignity and the welfare of the people. Consequently, it would also allow the government to increase the minimum wage from €736 to €900 a month. This would significantly improve the quality of life of Spaniards and Catalans. 

While it is true that an increase in the minimum wage would benefit both the Spaniards and the Catalans, it doesn’t require the approval of the budget. In fact, previous increases in the minimum wage have been done in such a manner. Not even the Spanish parliament has to vote. Article 27 of the Worker’s Statute gives the government the power to set the minimum annual wage. This contradicts the despicable and miserable blackmail campaign launched by the current Spanish government and Podemos who, for electoral reasons, are demanding the approval of the budget by the pro-independence parties ERC and PDeCAT, linking it with an increase of the minimum wage and warning independentists that they will bear responsibility for a stagnation of the minimum wage if the budget is not approved.

Regardless of this despicable blackmail campaign, pro-independence parties have shown their willingness to support the budget if the Spanish government takes clear steps to solve the Catalan conflict on self-determination and release the Catalan political prisoners. More precisely, ERC and PDeCAT are demanding the Spanish government to order the Prosecutor’s Office to withdraw all the charges against the Catalan political prisoners. This is a comprehensible pre-condition to any negotiation of any kind given that the Catalan political prisoners didn’t commit any crime, and much less, rebellion or sedition as the judiciary from numerous European countries, including Germany, have already ruled. This measure, which wouldn’t affect the separation of powers of the Spanish State would really show a willingness from the Spanish government to dejudicialize and solve the ongoing political conflict between Catalonia and Spain.

Whether the Spanish government will attempt to remove the Catalan conflict from the judicial process remains to be seen. However, the current blackmail campaign carried out by the Spanish government, Podemos, Catalunya en Comú Podem (CeC), and the Catalan “Socialist” Party (PSC) against independentists is unacceptable, despicable, and miserable. They are behaving exactly like the PP did during the previous legislature and are whitewashing the repression against the Catalans. Perhaps they should ask themselves how they would react if their leaders were unjustly imprisoned for over a year, and with each of them facing up to 30 years in prison. Surely, they wouldn’t negotiate the Spanish State General Budget until their leaders are released. They would also likely react stronger than Catalan pro-independence parties have done so far. In addition, the Spanish government can’t pretend that the pro-independence parties would approve the budget without conditions. Where has this been seen before? In which country? All pacts have conditions in any democratic country.

This despicable attitude from the Spanish government, Podemos and their regional brands the PSC and CeC is likely to backfire on them in upcoming local, possibly, general elections in Catalonia and Spain. Their bases, who oppose the repugnant attitude from their leaders towards independentism, are likely to make them lose social support, municipalities, regional governments, and the presidency. This is, at the same time, a big opportunity for independentists to attract them to their cause.

Independentists must acknowledge facts: social support for independence has grown most with unilateralism, clarity, and honesty. In my opinion, it is time for independentists to say enough is enough. Time to reject the Spanish budget, to bring down the Spanish government, to unite again, and prepare for the unilateral implementation of the republic in the upcoming months. In order to achieve the final victory, pro-independence parties must be more honest and clear to the Catalans than ever in saying what is already obvious. The Spanish government will never negotiate an agreed self-determination referendum unless it’s forced to do so. Additionally, the only possible way to force it is via unilateralism and mass permanent mobilizations across Catalonia. Surely, it won’t be an easy path, but with unity and determination, no one will be able to stop the Catalans. At least they will have a chance to get the victory and their desired republic.

The Trial Against Catalan Political Prisoners Gets Closer

The countdown to the trial against Catalan political prisoners has already begun. This week itself ended the deadline for the defenses to ask for the revocation of the instruction, which will surely be dismissed by the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court. Thereafter, the trial court can present its conclusions from the investigations and the opening of the trial can be decreed. However, the prisoners’ defense will seek to block it until their appeals are resolved.

The defense estimates that the trial will begin in January. And that this could last for about two months, just before the campaign for local and European elections begin. However, they suspect that the Supreme Court could intend to initiate the trial in November in order to take the defense by surprise and undermine their strategy.

Until now, the opening of the trial has been delayed because the defense has appealed the instructions of Judge Llarena and the provisional orders of imprisonment. The recusations against the members of the court have already been rejected.

Given that there are local and European elections in May 2019, the Supreme Court is not expected to announce the final sentence for the Catalan political prisoners, which will likely be up to 25 years in prison for each one, until June or July. The court believes that the announcement of the sentences before the aforementioned elections could give pro-independence parties landslide victories, which would legitimize Catalonia’s independence. 

Meanwhile, the Catalan leaders Oriol Junqueras, Carme Forcadell, Jordi Turull, Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Quim Forn, Jordi Sànchez, Raül Romeva, and Jordi Cuixart are expected to remain in prison before the trial.

Additional Information About the Case

In the filings of the prosecution, the public prosecutor and VOX party will have to specify the crimes for which the defendants will be tried. Right now, the nine political prisoners are being prosecuted for rebellion and embezzlement – the latter, in the case of the Puigdemont government advisers. This is where the state prosecutor’s office can make a gesture of distension and reduce the classification of Crimes and Petitions of Penalties, despite the opposition of the Supreme Court prosecutors. It is not expected that the VOX party will do so, but a reduction in the rhetoric of the prosecutor’s office can lower the fervor surrounding the trial, just as it could open a crisis between the prosecutor’s office and the state prosecutor’s office by not doing so.