We send our letters and cards to the prisoners in Madrid as a simple act of support and solidarity, with no expectation of receiving replies, as the prisoners may receive hundreds of letters and have limited resources for stamps especially for international mail. I was therefore gobsmacked yesterday (election day 21 December of all days) to receive a letter from the prison in Estremera from Joaquim Forn.
Estremera, 2 Dec 2017
Thank you very much for your kind words, your good wishes and solidarity.
Thanks for all you are doing in order to make our situation known all around the world.
It’s really important for us that the repression we are suffering is worldwidely known.
Specially because it is one EU Member State which is exercising it in front of the silence of the other states.
Ours is a peaceful fight for democracy and the answer of the state structures is absolutely oversized.
When he was remanded in custody in a Madrid prison charged with sedition on 16 October 2017, Jordi Sànchez was president of the Catalan grassroots organisation Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC). A month later he stood down from that role to enter an election campaign for his first time, appearing as no. 2 candidate on the Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) list for Barcelona at the 21 December 2017 election, just below no. 1 candidate, deposed president Carles Puigdemont.
I travelled to Brussels this week to experience, document and show solidarity with the characteristically well-organised and good-natured Catalan #OmplimBrussel·les mobilisation to fill the streets of the administrative capital of the European Union. They aimed to place the democratic crisis faced by Catalonia front and centre before the gaze of EU states and their citizens.
The numbers exceeded expectations with an incredible 45,000 or more Catalans making the trip by all means of transport, with nearly everyone sporting bright yellow scarfs or coats to show solidarity with those charged with sedition and those in prison. Many banners presented the message that this is a political conflict which requires dialogue and political solutions, not further state repression, police brutality or judicial pursuit of rather twisted sedition and rebellion charges.
As I arrived at the Parc du Cinquantenaire there was a carnival atmosphere despite the bitter cold and light but persistent rain. Chatting to some women (pictured), one of them presented me with a letter in an envelope. At first I thought it was related to the political prisoners, but when I opened it later, it revealed a personal statement from the woman written in Catalan and English, expressing how she grew up feeling both Spanish and Catalan, but has now reached a point, at which she no longer feels Spanish. She had a bundle of these letters to hand out to people in Belgium – a very touching old school form of social media. Her personal statement for Catalan independence is reproduced below.
I’m Gertrudis: I’m 67 years old. Since I was a child I always said that I am “Catalan”, not for that reason I stopped being Spanish. For some years now, this feeling has changed and right now I do not feel Spanish at all. It is because of the contempt that they have had for our language and our traditions.
I was educated at a Religious School where the language spoken and taught was Spanish. At that time, it never seemed to me that it was a painful situation, it was “normal”, but it did not make me think differently about my Catalan language, which I’ve always loved.
I want to say that I am now a pro-independence because I believe that we deserve to be able to govern ourselves and not those who have always forgotten us.
In the wake of the release of six imprisoned ministers and the decision to continue to provisionally detain the four remaining Catalan political prisoners, many were surprised by Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena’s decision to withdraw the European Arrest Warrants for Carles Puigdemont and the other 4 Catalan ministers in exile in Belgium. We can speculate that the Belgian and Spanish justice systems hold quite different standards in due legal process and the judge had concerns that any extradition judgments which went against Spain in Belgium may influence the cases against the large group charged together with sedition (and rebellion and misuse of public funds in most cases).
However arrest warrants still remain in place for the 5 exiles in Belgium, should they return to Spain. The Spanish Supreme Court is now handling all these cases which include the following TWENTY people:
5 ministers in Belgium: Carles Puigdemont, Meritxell Serret, Antoni Comín, Lluís Puig and Clara Ponsatí
6 ministers recently released from Madrid prisons: Dolors Bassa, Meritxell Borràs, Raül Romeva, Carles Mundó, Josep Rull and Jordi Turull
2 ministers still in prison: Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn
2 leading grassroots activists still in prison: Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart
5 members of the Catalan parliamentary bureau: Carme Forcadell, Lluís Corominas, Lluís Guinó, Anna Simó and Ramona Barrufet
We urge you to send Christmas cards or letters to the four people provisionally detained (see addresses below). Cards and letters should be posted to Spain by Friday 15 December 2017 to ensure they reach the prisoners before Christmas. Remember to include your name and address on the envelope.
Jordi Cuixart i Navarro
President of Òmnium Cultural
Jailed without bail: 16 Oct 2017
Jordi Cuixart i Navarro
Centro Penitenciario Madrid V
Ctra. M-609, km 3,5
28791 Soto del Real
Spanish supreme court judge Pablo Llarena delivered his decision to the 10 Catalan political prisoners’ legal teams this morning at 10am Spanish time. Six of the imprisoned Catalan ministers have been granted bail of €100,000 and should therefore be able to leave prison today.
Precautionary imprisonment has been retained for four of the prisoners: Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, the two grassroots movement leaders in prison since 16 October, and two ministers from the deposed Catalan government, Oriol Junqueras (Vice President and Finance Minister) and Joaquim Forn (Interior Minister), who have been in prison since 2 November.