Sunday, 1 October 2017

Spain


As a rule I dislike blogging about anything too serious. If I don't have a sufficient grasp of the information about a topic I would generally endeavour to avoid giving my opinion.

But...

I'll be totally honest, the first I became aware of the referendum in the Catalonian part of Spain was today, when it started trending on Twitter.

If you're not aware, the referendum, called for by the regional Catalonian parliament, is for independence of the region, and allegedly if the vote is successful then within a matter of days the region will declare itself to be independent of Spain.

Big. Disruptive. A massive concern to the Spanish government, I'm sure. The referendum has been arranged and pushed on with even without the agreement of the national government, there are questions over its accuracy, and it has even been classed as illegal.

So whatever result comes out of it, there's grounds for arguing that the referendum is not valid.

But...

The Spanish governments response to this referendum has been to use police forces to disrupt the referendum, seizing voting materials, and arresting key people charged with organising the referendum.

And today, they have used those forces to directly disrupt the vote, using force. Hundreds of citizens have been injured by the police. There has even been the bizarre sight of regional firefighters being attacked by the police for trying to prevent them from entering polling locations.

Regardless of whether the referendum was legal or not, we are talking about a country using its police forces to injure people attempting to vote - not people dealing drugs, not murdering people, not abducting children, not even committing fraud. A country having its people beaten for administering a vote.

Imagine if that happened in your own country. Would that be acceptable?

I recognise that in other countries there has been similar events to this, and even worse disgraces. But that should not mean that what is happening in Spain is acceptable.

The initial reactions from some of those bodies that could put pressure on Spain has not been encouraging.  I have taken the opportunity to write to my representatives in the UK parliament, and to sign a number of online petitions.

Wherever you are in the world, I do think that it is valuable to protest these actions. It is not acceptable in the modern world for a government to act in this way.

Do contact your democratic representative, and below are a couple of petitions that you may wish to sign:

Worldwide petition - "For freedom and the rule of law in Catalonia" on change.org (it is in French but it's one of the most signed petitions so I've linked to it) - https://www.change.org/p/la-catalogne-doit-voter

UK only petition - "To condemn the repression of democracy and freedom of speech in Catalonia" - https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200914

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