Sunday, October 29, 2017

"An open letter to the British Consulate in Barcelona" (Re: Catalonia/Spain)

[Below is the text text of a letter shared online through social media...] If you are a British resident in Catalonia and you agree then please copy, paste and sign the document and send it to the British Consulate. Address is:
British Consulate General Barcelona
Avda Diagonal 477-13, 
08036 Barcelona

We the undersigned are British citizens resident in Catalonia. In our time here we have enjoyed peaceful coexistence with Catalans, interacting and integrating to our own different degrees with Catalan society. We now stand aghast at the Spanish government’s response to the recent political developments in Catalonia.

The single most striking episode was the indisputable police brutality of the 1st October, which marked an arrogant, heavy-handed and oppressive armed attack against peaceful Spanish citizens gathering to cast their vote, and to express thus their opinion, in the referendum on Catalan independence. It hardly seems necessary to delve into a description of the events of that day, as graphic images of police charges, attacks with batons, injured people and the peaceful nature of the voters were broadcast around the world. No degree of falsely bemoaning “fake news” by the Spanish authorities can change the truth that most people perceived.

Now the most recent scenario is that of the Spanish government announcing severe measures in the imminent application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. These include the destitution of the democratically elected President of Catalonia and all of his cabinet, usurping the control of public TV, radio and the Catalan police force, imposing new elections (with the foreseeable illegalization of one or more independence parties?), and imposing tighter controls on the education system. Much of this hammer-fisted intervention is in fact illegal in both form and content as gathered under that selfsame constitution. Undoubtedly, this is a very unsatisfactory culmination of a process which has been gathering momentum for years now, and with no attempt at all by the Spanish government to engage in dialogue, and to explore a political solution.

Subsequent, as yet isolated, outbreaks of violence against pro-independence symbols and supporters by extreme and violent right-wing groups is another factor which gives us cause for concern, especially since we have seen no signs at all of the Spanish government making any moves to condemn or shun such attacks. Above all, however, there is the recent incarceration of two civil rights activists guilty only of promoting peaceful protests. This holding of political prisoners is an abomination, and we do not understand why it has not been censured by European governments and institutions in the strongest of terms. We believe that attempting to cloak events with a mantle of falsehoods, using immoral, illegitimate and illegal measures of coercion and ugly brute force are in fact the trademarks of an authoritarian state, and have no place in a Western democracy.

The Spanish Constitution is not sculpted in stone, and neither should it be written in blood. Laws are drawn up to impose restraints in order to maintain a functioning society; when such laws fail in this objective and become a straitjacket wielded by a privileged few to keep society from developing and pursuing legitimate desires then, in democratic terms, those laws have failed and the time has come to modify or eradicate them.

We believe that it is within the British Consulate’s scope and interests, as well as a moral duty, to convey the content of this letter and its spirit of extreme disapproval of the Spanish government’s actions in the most insistent and strongest terms possible to the highest representatives of the Spanish Government and to the British Embassy in Madrid.


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