Spanish militarized police assaulted Catalan government offices and arrested 15 officials on Wednesday in order to stop the October 1st banned referendum. The Catalan president said that this action meant the suspension of Catalonia’s government and the implementation of a state of emergency across the country.
Tens of thousands of protesters crowded outside the Catalan government offices in downtown Barcelona’s tourist district, waving Catalan flags and chanting “Occupying forces out” and “Where is Europe?”.
“The Spanish state has by all rights intervened in Catalonia’s government and has established emergency rule,” said President Carles Puigdemont. “We condemn and reject the anti-democratic and totalitarian actions of the Spanish state,” he said, calling on the Catalans to vote in the referendum to preserve democracy.
Spanish militarized police detained Catalonia’s junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove and 14 high-ranking local officials. The raid targeted numerous regional government departments.
Police confirmed that they were carrying out raids to dismantle the organization of the October 1st referendum.
Despite Spanish police provocations to cause riots, mass protests across Catalonia remained peaceful. Protesters bore banners reading “Democracy” and “Vote to be free”.
The FC Barcelona soccer club said in a statement: “FC Barcelona, in remaining faithful to its historic commitment to the defense of the nation, to democracy, to freedom of speech, and to self-determination, condemns any act that may impede the free exercise of these rights.”
Police efforts to stop the referendum have intensified in recent days as the Catalan government reaffirms its commitment to hold the referendum by any means. A few days ago, President Puigdemont said that he and his administration members were willing to go to prison if necessary. He added that he is not afraid of defending people’s rights.
Over the last few weeks, the Spanish police have raided printer’s shops, newspaper offices private post-delivery companies looking for the necessary material to hold the referendum, instruction manuals for manning voting stations and ballot boxes.