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Thousands expected to attend pro-independence rally in Brussels

We answer all your questions about tomorrow's protest in the Belgian capital

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06 December 2017 06:10 PM

by

Alex Rolandi | Barcelona

Tomorrow’s protest in Brussels, calling for the freedom of the remaining jailed Catalan officials and activists, and in favour of an independent Catalan state, “will be the biggest demonstration in Brussels” in recent years, according to what the organizers believe. Thousands of people are expected to attend.

Why go to Brussels?

At a press conference held on Wednesday, representatives from ANC and Òmnium Cultural, whose presidents still remain behind bars, explained the motives behind the protest.

ANC vice-president Agustí Alcoberro told how the protest was born “out of spontaneity.” A spokesperson for Òmnium Cultural, Marcel Mauri, said that the demonstration aims to thank European citizens for supporting Catalans and, at the same time, warn the European Union to "wake up" with regard to the situation in the country.

What is at risk is not independence, it is democracy and the foundational values ​​of the European Union," said Mauri, emphasizing that the protest will be “civic, peaceful and democratic.”

The organizations have invited all parties "who are in favor of independence and sovereignty in general" to participate in the demonstration this Thursday.

Who will attend?

"At this moment we know that Puigdemont and Rovira (ERC) have accepted, we believe that the CUP will be at the rally but we do not know if it will participate in the political speeches," explained the vice president of Òmnium Marcel Mauri.

Carles Puigdemont and Marta Rovira are numbers one and two respectively on the Together for Catalonia election candidacy. They are both expected to give speeches at the end of the two and a half kilometre march, that starts at 11 in the morning. To finish the rally there will be speeches and concerts.

  • "What is at risk is not independence, it is democracy and the foundational values ​​of the European Union"

    Marcel Mauri · Òmnium Cultural spokesperson

Although they did not want to give figures, organizers believe that more than 20,000 pro-independence supporters will turn up. "We do not want to give numbers but we are convinced that it will be the biggest demonstration in Brussels" in recent years, they said.

The march "to denounce the lack of democracy in Spain and to vindicate the freedom of expression and the release of political prisoners" will reach the European Parliament.

How far is the journey?

On Wednesday, ANC and Òmnium Cultural organized more than 250 buses to take people from throughout Catalonia all the way to the Belgian capital. Many other people are also travelling by plane or car. The journey is around 1,300 kilometres in total, depending on the departure point in Catalonia.

Alcoberro andl Mauri highlighted pro-independence supporters’ dedication to their cause. They emphasized the capacity of “solidarity” of the Catalans, willing to travel more than a thousand kilometres “to defend Catalonia." “You can hear Catalan being spoken at all the service stations in France,” said Alcoberro.

“We are going to Brussels to contribute our grain of sand for independence so that the president knows that we are by his side,” said Lluís Xicoira, one of the bus passengers. Some people are already there, readying themselves for the big day tomorrow.

What’s in a colour?

Among people’s luggage are estelladas (the pro-independence Catalan flag,) as well as banners, and yellow ribbons and clothes. Yellow has become the symbolic colour of solidarity for jailed pro-independence leaders, recently banned as a political statement in public places in Barcelona due to the coming December 21 election.

The dismissed president Carles Puigdemont called on people via social media to fill Brussels with the colour yellow, “because here it is not prohibited.”

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  • Passengers on one of the buses heading from Catalonia to Brussels for Thursday's demonstration (by ACN)