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Far-right demonstration takes place in front of pro-independence party headquarters

Electoral Commission under fire as it bans elderly protest but allows far-right group gathering and Ombudsman starts inquiry

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02 December 2017 02:36 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

A far-right demonstration took place today in front of the headquarters of left-wing, pro-independence CUP party. The party has, in fact, denounced that this demonstration was allowed to go on, while various symbolic peaceful pro-independence demonstrations have been recently banned. Indeed, the Barcelona branch of the Spanish Electoral Commission and the Spanish Supreme Court did not act against the planned protest. This comes after various counter-independence demonstrations have ended in episodes of violence or vandalism. Inasmuch, seeing in today’s far-right gathering a possible “threat,” the CUP called on its members to form a chain in counter-protest in front of its headquarters.

  • “What’s happening is a serious breach of the right to freedom of expression and right to protest”

    Rafael Ribó· Catalan Ombudsman

The far-left party is studying the possibility of challenging the Spanish Electoral Board. This is not only due to their recent lack of action, but also following the organization’s decision to ban a concentration of elderly retirees in the town of Reus demanding the freedom of political prisoners, or forbidding that the Barcelona fountains be lit in yellow in solidarity with those who are behind bars this holiday season. The CUP further criticized the Electoral Board’s actions of forbidding the use of terms ‘President Puigdemont’ on public media such as TV3, or removing request banners with the word “democracy.”

“A serious breach of the right to freedom of expression and right to protest”

These decisions by the Electoral Commission are “a serious breach of the right to freedom of expression and right to protest,” stated the Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó. He further added that he is “worried” by the organization’s decisions, and that he believes their choices could fall outside of their jurisdiction or constitutional legality. These occurrences, Ribó qualified, go “from events that seem ridiculous but are much more significant, such as forbidding the color yellow, to banning such transparent and democratic acts like that of the elderly gathering in Reus.”

Ribó further noted that while the December 21 electoral campaign kicks off on Monday December 4, it could end up being carried out without all candidates benefiting from their right to campaign on equal terms, as many are still incarcerated or in Belgium. Among other announcements, the ombudsman continued to highlight the need to address, in Parliament, the Spanish police’s violent crackdown on October 1. 

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  • People gather in front of the CUP headquarters on December 2 2017 (by Núria Julià)