Spain Cracks Down on Catalan Independence Movement

by Elizabeth Vos, Disobedient Media:

Over the last few weeks, the Catalan independence movement has provoked escalating and severe reactions from Spanish authorities. Reuters reports that The Constitutional Court has suspended the referendum after a legal challenge by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and that police have since searched newspaper offices and printers for signs of any preparation for the referendum, even going so far as to scour the area for ballot boxes in an attempt to quell the upcoming vote.

Assange and Wikileaks have both commented numerous times over the last few days on massive public support for the Catalan independence movement, as well as blatant attempts by the Spanish government to suppress a successful vote in favor of independence. The effects of the independence movement on Spain’s membership in the EU remains to be seen. At the time of publication, EU member states appear remarkably quiet on the matter. That a member of the European Union could brazenly restrict the operation of free press and treat its citizens in such an authoritarian manner without consequence is deeply troubling.

The BBC reported that Spain’s public prosecutor had summoned more than 700 Catalan mayors to appear for questioning over their support for a banned independence referendum. Despite these increasing attempts to suppress the vote, one million protestors recently took to the streets of Barcelona in support of Catalan independence.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has repeatedly expressed his stance on the Catalonian independence via Twitter, questioning the Spanish government for its suppression of the media and its attempts to prevent the referendum taking place.

The Catalan independence movement is not only significant domestically for Spain, but also for implications it may have on the European Union. It was compared by a University of Geneva study to the Scottish independence referendum.

Wikileaks Tweeted that the Spanish state had claimed it would overpower Catalonia’s government by seizing control of its finances in attempt to stop vote. Further, Wikileaks remarked that the Spanish Ministry of the Interior had bragged about military police having seized “how to vote” posters. The latest escalations in Spain’s suppression of the independence movement come as the University of Geneva published a study on “Catalonia’s legitimate right to decide.” The summary of the document states in part that:

“These efforts build upon Catalonia’s previous attempts to consolidate representative governance for Catalan citizens within and conjointly with the Spanish democratic state. Four internationally recognized experts were invited by the Government of Catalonia to examine the controversy generated by the call for a self-determination referendum. This has been convened in the face of the opposition of the Spanish authorities which contest its legality, unlike the recent examples of the trend towards the recognition of self-determination, of which the most salient is that of Scotland’s referendum on independence…”

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