Roger Torrent appeals for a united front in defence of democracy

This is an English translation by Dr. M. McNaught of the Catalan Speaker’s solemn Declaration in Parliament today, following the detention without bail of five Catalan MPs (two of which have resigned to ensure the pro.independence majority in Parliament).

Original text in Catalan.


As president of the Parliament of Catalonia, accompanied by former presidents, MPs, former MPs and representatives of civil society, all committed to the defense of civil and political rights, I address the people of Catalonia over the gravity of the political and democratic situation that our country is enduring.

We are in a context of unprecedented democratic involution. Recently, we have seen how fundamental rights have been progressively eroded and violated. We have seen how a referendum was pursued by police, and how the people who went to vote were violently repressed.

Yesterday, the escalation of violations of fundamental rights perpetrated by the institutions of the State took a new leap, unacceptable to all democrats.

To criminalize legitimate political ideas, and consider as crimes political actions characteristic of a democracy is not justice, it’s repression.

To imprison people for their political ideas, and deny freedom to those who do not give up their legitimate ideals, is to end ideological freedom.

They are actions that violate civil and political rights that support the rule of law.

The unjust decisions taken yesterday by the courts are one further step. A painfully forceful and definitive step in the context of political repression and violation of fundamental rights to citizens of this country.

What we suffered yesterday is an attack at the heart of democracy.

Consequently, no-one can remain indifferent to this attack. It affects all of us and all who love democracy, justice and freedoms, independently of our partisan and ideological options.

We have political representatives in prison and in exile. We have the Government of the Generalitat intervened. And a Parliament harassed by the courts, which is not allowed to freely develop its primary and essential functions, including to choose the President of the Generalitat.

By ignoring the separation of powers, attacking the political rights of the successive candidates, and with them, the political rights of citizenship, they have not just forced us to suspend a plenary or an investiture, they have suspended democracy.

Enough is enough.

Democracy has been suspended, and we can only recover it through the firmness and the unity of all democrats.

I do not propose rhetoric, I propose dignity. I’m not asking for pity, I’m asking for responses. From now on, I urge you to form a united front in the defense of democracy and fundamental rights.

A front of all sectors of society, based on respect for plurality.

An alliance of all democrats to demand – and secure – the freedom of people persecuted for placing decisions over the political future of this country in the citizens’ hands. Because their imprisonment is unjust. It is not necessary. It is indignant to a democratic country. It is the mark of an authoritarian regime.

Carles, Oriol, Carme, Joaquim, Dolors, Lluís, Raúl, Jordis, Meritxell, Josep, Toni, Marta, Anna. We solemnly promise we will not rest until you’re home. We will not hesitate, we will not stop, we will not stop working until you are free, with your families. We want you home and we will achieve this, let there be no doubt.

This is not about flags, but universal values. Therefore, I call on the democrats of Spain, of Europe, of the entire world, to stand with us. That they be in solidarity with us, as we have so often defended peace and freedom.

The feelings of helplessness and injustice are very strong. But the answer, now more than ever, must be civic, peaceful, democratic and massive. And it must be political. We put politics at the center. Now is the time for politics.

These are grave moments. But it is precisely in these grave hours when we must prove our firmness, our convictions, our commitment to people, democracy, and the country.

Let everyone today who endures the darkness of this moment be sure that this country shall continue to progress, in a dignified manner, with our heads held high.

Despite the severity of the attack we have suffered, I want to convey a message of hope. I am convinced that if we as a society and institutions act together, if we are persistent, if we stand firm, if we persevere in the defense of democratic principles, not only will we halt the impositions and repression, but we shall be able to aspire – each with their legitimate political options – to build a better, fairer and more free country.

Let’s hold high the banner of dignity and democracy. Let’s unite to defend the civil and political rights of our people. Let’s build together a future of hope and freedom for everyone.

Long live democracy and long live Catalonia.

24 March 2018