Students Protest in Barcelona Against Crackdown on Catalan Officials

Danny Woods
September 23, 2017

Thousands gathered on September 21 at the gates of Catalonia's regional judicial body in Barcelona to demand the release of a dozen officials arrested in connection with a vote on independence that Spanish authorities are challenging as illegal.

On November 9, 2014, about 80 percent of the Catalans who took part in a non-binding referendum on the region's status as part of Spain voted in favor of Catalonia becoming an independent state.

The Spanish government has since ordered police raids on key Catalan government buildings to seize documents related to the vote and Catalan officials have been arrested.

Spain's constitutional court has imposed daily fines of up to €12,000 (£10,600; $14,300) on top Catalan officials for every day they continue organising a banned referendum.

Catalonia represents a fifth of Spain's 1.1 trillion-euro (£970 billion) economy and enjoys wide self-government.

A ministry statement says the agents will provide backing for the Catalan regional police who are also under orders to prevent the October 1 referendum from taking place.

Catalan bishops call for calm as Spain cracks down on independence vote

Many who do not support independence say they are scared to speak out and no longer feel comfortable in their own country.

Hundreds of pro-independence supporters in Catalonia are protesting outside a courthouse to demand the release of regional government officials arrested in a crackdown by Spanish authorities over a planned secession referendum.

Some are billeted in three ferries rented by the Spanish government and moored in the harbours of Barcelona and Tarragona because of both a shortage of temporary housing and to avoid clashes between protesters and police forces. Catalan authorities vowed to hold the referendum despite the court's ruling.

A pro-independence group said about 2,500 supporters were at the protest in Hospitalet.

Numerous demonstrators in Barcelona had slept overnight near the judiciary building in tents or hammocks strung up between lampposts.

Spain's central government says the planned referendum violates Spain's constitution.

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