Catalonia conflict: Independence advocates should not be criminalized!

Arrest of former Catalan ministers (Press Release)

Joaquím Forn is one of the former ministers the Spanish security forces had arrested on Thursday. Photo: Xavier Trias via Flickr

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) criticizes the arrest of eight former ministers of the regional government of Catalonia. “Criminalizing the independence advocates will help to solve the problems – it will only divide Spain and Catalonia, and the Catalan people among each other,” warned Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen on Friday. “Law enforcement will not help to solve the political conflicts regarding the right to self-determination, it will only lead to further escalation and create martyrs. Dictators and authoritarian regimes tend to act like this, but not constitutional states. Instead of trying to win over the Catalan people with arguments and political concessions, the Spanish government is relying on repressive measures. This is a recipe for disaster.”

The Spanish security forces had arrested the former ministers on Thursday. They are accused of “rebellion, separatism, and misappropriation of public funds” and will have to appear before the highest court of the country. Further, the Spanish authorities will issue a European arrest warrant to have Carles Puigdemont – the former President of the regional government, who had fled to Belgium – extradited.

On Thursday, thousands of Catalans protested against the imprisonment of their democratically elected politicians. “The uncompromising actions of the judiciary will only fuel the dispute over the future of Catalonia,” said Delius. “Instead of trying to find a political solution to the dispute over autonomy and self-determination, the Spanish government is obviously relying on deterrence, retaliation, and the alleged power of law. This, however, is a fatal misinterpretation of the complex political and social situation in Catalonia.”

Headerphoto: Xavier Trias via Flickr