Spanish authorities prevented people from voting in a very hostile manner, but not only people who want independence, but also those who wanted to vote ‘No’: that is undemocratic, said Alfred Bosch, the Republican Left leader on Barcelona City Council.
Two million Catalans, or 90.09 percent of those who voted, said ‘Yes’ in the banned referendum on independence from Madrid on Sunday, according to the Catalonia regional authorities.
The Catalonian government said the result reflects only the ballots that “were not seized” during police raids on polling stations throughout the day. Police also used brutal violence and fired rubber bullets at voters with some 900 people injured, according to the region’s health ministry.
After the independence referendum vote count began in Catalonia, RT spoke to Alfred Bosch, the Republican Left leader on Barcelona City Council.
RT: Why do you think the Spanish authorities have taken such a tough stance on the Catalan referendum?
Alfred Bosch: My guess is that [the authorities] are not democratic enough, because if you accept fundamental rights and freedom in general and you accept that people have the right to decide their own future voting in the polls, they would have had no problem with this referendum. The fact is that they have prevented – in a very hostile manner – people from voting. They have prevented people from voting who want independence; however, they also prevented those who wanted to vote ‘No’ to independence and were against independence like themselves. That is very undemocratic. We think that people here have been very dignified and there is not enough police in this country to stop the people who are so civilized, democratic and dignified.
The Spanish prime-minister is in absolute negation of a feeling that lives for years and years in Catalonia. There have been manifestations of millions of people year after year. They are ignoring that, they think that it shouldn’t happen, that it isn’t happening. And this is strictly censorship in the mind of Spanish people and Spanish politicians. The Belgium prime minister has already condemned this behavior, and I hope more and more European politicians finally look to what is happening in Catalonia because they also have been ignoring and always followed the Spanish line and I hope these events have opened their eyes and that Europe’s leading persons get committed and open a dialogue. – Bernard Daelemans, international observer
RT: Do you think the manner in which Spanish police tackled this issue could backfire, causing more support for independence in Catalonia?
AB: It is backfiring right now. Just look at how people have been voting in the thousands, they have been showing up in all the voting stations. Just look at how the international press is covering what is going on here. And just see how people back in Russia, or Europe or anywhere in the world are watching these shocking images and thinking what on earth is going on in Spain? Has this government of Mr. Rajoy turned absolutely crazy? Have they gone back to the Middle Ages? Or to General Franco’s military dictatorship?
RT: Why do you think Europe is so silent? We haven’t heard any real comment coming from different European officials? If such a crackdown took place elsewhere, it would probably cause an outcry in the EU, but this is not happening.
AB: I think European leaders are also shocked. They probably didn’t expect this or in this way. But we’ve seen Belgium prime minister making statements; we’ve seen Angela Merkel calling the Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy. We saw Donald Trump, the president of the US, also making public statements on this. Yes, there is widespread interest, but we will have to wait and see. I am sure European governments are trying to decide what they can do. We obviously make a call to the international community to take an active part in this. We are asking for international sanctions. We are asking the EU specifically for sanctions, for considering Article 7, which calls for the suspension of the state which exerts violence against their own citizens. We are also encouraging the international community to consider international mediation to see if we can get a solution from somewhere else, because we are not getting it from Madrid, obviously.