Protest held marking 100 days of jail for deposed VP
More than 1000 people gathered in Sant Vicenç dels Horts where Junqueras was mayor
One hundred days on from the imprisonment of the deposed vice president of Catalonia, a concetration has been held in the town in which he once presided as mayor, Sant Vicenç dels Horts. The town, located in the province of Barcelona, and just a short car journey away from the capital itself, became a focal point for people demanding the release of Oriol Junqueras, and other pro-independence leaders still in preventive detention after Spain took over Catalonia's self-rule with the application of Article 155 in October last year.
The town centre quickly became a sea of yellow, the colour which has become a symbol of solidarity with jailed Catalan leaders. In the main square, in front of the town hall, more than a thousand people gathered for the event organized by the Free Junqueras Platform, and attended by various key political figures such as the president of the parliament, Roger Torrent, the former head of Podem-Catalunya, Albano-Dante Fachin, the former CUP MP, Albert Botran, and Esquerra's (ERC) Marta Rovira, to name a few.
They addressed the crowd of people, reading a manifesto stating that there "are not enough prisons to close an entire town." Roger Torrent also made a speech asking people to not be "deceived" until Junqueras and the other "political prisoners" are released.
All in all, four pro-independence leaders remain in prison, including the grassroots activists Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, the deposed minister Quim Forn, and Junqueras himself. The crimes for which they are being investigated include rebellion, sedition, and misuse of funds.
The former CUP MP, Botran asserted in the manifesto that the jail and "forced exile" of "political rivals" of the Spanish state demonstrates a "failure" on the part of the Spanish government to address a "massive" and "peaceful" part of Catalan society.
Torrent also spoke of his recent meeting with Oriol Junqueras in the Estremera prison in the Madrid region, around 700km away from Barcelona. He explained that, instead of finding resentment in the jailed pro-independence leader, he found love, calm, kindness, and the ability to see "beyond the walls and bars" of Estremera. He stated his belief that the reason for Junqueras being imprisoned is because he is the "greatest threat" to those who have opted for "repression."
Oriol Junqueras, as well as the activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, have all recently been denied bail by the judge overseeing their cases, Pablo Llarena. The activists have been in prison the longest; 115 days in total. Junqueras and Joaquim Forn, the deposed Home Affairs Minister, have been behind bars since November 2. They all face up to 30 years in jail. The reason for their incarceration is preventive.
The Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena argues that their ideologies remain unchanged and that they still have plans for an independent Catalan republic, thus they risk committing the same offences again and must therefore remain behind bars.
"Excessive and disproportionate"
The head of Amnesty International in Europe, Gauri van Gulik, recently called for the immediate release of the jailed Catalan leader, Jordi Sànchez, who has been in prison for nearly four months. He was arrested alongside Jordi Cuixart, the president of the civic organisation Òmnium Cultural, as part of an investigation into the independence process, and the alleged related crime of sedition in the run up to the October 1 referendum. Van Gulik termed these possible charges as unjust, stating that they should be dropped.
“The extension of Jordi Sànchez’s provisional custody constitutes an excessive and disproportionate restriction on his right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," van Gulik said.