Mass protest demands release of ‘political prisoners’
750,000 people march in Barcelona according to local police under the motto ‘Freedom for political prisoners, we are the republic’
Protesters from all over Catalonia flooded the streets of Barcelona on Saturday afternoon to denounce the incarceration of pro-independence Catalan civil society leaders and deposed government ministers. The march started at 5 pm on Marina Avenue. According to local police, 750,000 people attended the rally.
The rally’s slogan was 'Llibertat presos polítics, som república' (Freedom for political prisoners, we are the republic). The family members of eight imprisoned ministers headed the march, as well as family members of deposed ministers who are currently in Belgium, and the relatives of imprisoned civil society leaders.
After heading the march, they went on stage and addressed the crowd to read letters by their jailed relatives. Video messages from deposed Catalan ministers in Belgium were screened too.
In a message from Belgium, deposed president Carles Puigdemont called people to turn the rally into “a united call, loud and clear” in favor of “freedom and democracy”. “We have to once again make ourselves heard so that the world hears these plural voices,” he said.
Dismissed vice president Oriol Junqueras wrote that he has been imprisoned by the "heirs of the Franco regime" with the "shameful support" of the Spanish socialists. "Our dreams are their nightmares," he wrote, and added that "winter will lead to spring."
The protest took place on Barcelona’s Marina Avenue, from Pujades Street as far as Icària Avenue, which is close to the Catalan Parliament. The demonstration was organized by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, pro-independence grassroots organizations whose leaders, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart respectively, are currently in prison awaiting charges for sedition.
Next demonstration: in Brussels
ANC and Òmnium called for another mass demonstration on December 7. This time, though, the rally will take place in Brussels. The march will be held in the run-up to the December 21 election.