Forcadell testifies before the court for allowing debate on independence
CNA / Sara Prim
Barcelona (CNA).- Thousands of citizens gathered in front of Barcelona’s Courthouse to receive the Parliament's President, Carme Forcadell. They displayed Catalan pro-independence flags and banners calling for democracy and lamenting the Spanish lack of respect for the Catalan institutions. Forcadell arrived there on foot and was rallied around by the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, together with the whole Catalan executive, and members of radical left pro-independence CUP and alternative left alliance ‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot’. Hundreds of mayors from all over the territory and former top politicians such as former Catalan President Artur Mas also walked next to Forcadell on her way to the Court.
"If citizens are allowed to discuss independence on the streets, the MPs should be allowed to do so in the Parliament", Forcadell said before the Court. During her intervention, which was less than 40 minutes long, the Parliament's President defended her decision to allow the pro-independence roadmap to be put to vote amongst the MPs.
Puigdemont, who also joined Forcadell on her way to Barcelona’s Courthouse, dismissed the possibility of Forcadell being banned from office and emphasised the legitimacy of her position. “Of course she will continue to be the Parliament’s President, since she was democratically elected by the Catalan citizens”, noted Puigdemont.
“It is important to be here not only to support Forcadell but also to give visibility to Catalonia’s call for democracy and for our institutions to be respected”, stated Catalan Government Spokeswoman, Neus Munté. “Europe and the whole world are watching us; it is absolutely incomprehensible that in the 21st century and within a state which is supposed to be democratic, political questions are responded to through the courts”, she added and lamented that elected representatives “have to testify before the court for defending freedom of speech, democratic debates or allowing a debate in the Parliament”.
Catalan Vice President and Minister for Economy and Tax Office, Oriol Junqueras, also joined Forcadell on her way to the Court. He assured that “the Spanish Government, governing People’s Party and all those who surround them” will put “as many spokes as possible in the wheel” of Catalonia’s pro-independence aspirations. “They place obstacles to our economy and to the social rights of the Catalan people whenever we try to legislate in order to defend them”, he added. “However, despite all of their attempts to increase difficulties, we carry on”, said Junqueras and emphasised that Catalonia has overcome “worse circumstances than the current ones”.
“There is huge concern abroad regarding the democratic standards of the Spanish State, which are now at risk”, stated Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva. According to him, Spain “is one of the countries in the EU” where this risk is currently highest. “It’s not only us who say that, but also many people abroad are concerned”, he said.
Mas: I also testified before the Court with great support from many people
Former Catalan President, Artur Mas, was one of the most highly anticipated and symbolic personalities to attend the really. “I also testified before the Court with great support from many people”, said Mas, referring to his summonsing for co-organising the 9-N symbolic vote on independence in November 2014. He expressed his aim and that of all those who supported Forcadell “to encourage her and tell her that she is not alone”. “The cause we are defending probably deserves such a sacrifice”, he added.
Regarding the Spanish Government’s repeated judicial response to Catalonia’s pro-independence aspirations, Mas considered it “scandalous”. “Today they put on trial a president of a parliament simply for allowing a parliamentary debate and for allowing a vote whereas the case against former Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Díaz, who plotted against some of Catalonia’s main pro-independence parties and the case has been filed”. “And this is called justice?” he asked rhetorically.
Mas also expressed his “hope” that the Catalan institutions “will always prioritise the interest of the majority and the common goal” rather than “the short overshadowing interests of parties or people”. “So far, every time things were most in danger in the sovereignty world we have always found a solution. Sometimes at a very high price, sometimes with very great sacrifices, but we have always found a solution”, he added.