Minister Josep Rull, unjustly incarcerated in Lledoners prison, has turned 50 this Sunday. His hometown, Terrassa, has remembered him in a large tribute; his friends and pro-independence leaders have congratulated him via Twitter; and even Lluís Llach exceptionally got up on stage to dedicate one of his songs to him, Companys, no és això1. The very same day, Oriol Junqueras and Quim Forn mark ten months confined in different jails. The judge keeping them in pretrial detention, Supreme Court magistrate Pablo Llarena, has to face a civil lawsuit presented by president Puigdemont and the ministers in exile for lack of impartiality in a Brussels court at 9:30am this Tuesday. He doesn't plan to attend: a Belgian lawyer will defend him over statements he made after a talk in Oviedo for a bill of 544,982 euros.
You tend to remember how you celebrated your fiftieth birthday. I've known Rull since the 90s. He came from the JNC2, a good source of politicians and social activists. They were the years of the so-called Pujolist hegemony3. Almost all the youth organisations of that period created cross-spectrum figures with great political instincts. Rull is one of them. The imprisonment of Rull and the others, then, remains a necessary (not sufficient) condition for the independence movement to not pull back after the 1st October referendum and the 27th October declaration of independence last year. It is, in part, that cruel: once it's confirmed that the Spanish state isn't prepared to negotiate on a referendum, and that it's looking for a sentence as an example from the most predictable trial of all those the Supreme Court could have carried out, the prisons have to be a focus of political activity. One of the legs of current Catalan politics: the government, Waterloo and Lledoners.
Rull, like Junqueras and Forn, who have spent ten months in prison, knows what lies ahead. He knows they'll be deprived of their freedom for much more time than they have been so far. An awful lot more. Only a united, large-scale response to the injustice of this situation could manage to change the forecast. President Quim Torra, in his speech during the ceremony in Terrassa, talked about a march for civil and national rights in Catalonia and for the right to self-determination. The political tussle in Catalonia will pick up speed, without a doubt, with the president's speech this Tuesday in the National Theatre of Catalonia, which is already set as the definitive start for months of great political tension, both in the institutions and in the streets, at least until the political prisoners' trial, still without a date, and their sentences.
The injustice isn't only unjust pretrial detention. It's also in the details. For this reason, Rull deserves to receive more congratulations than ever, even in prison.
1. Lluís Llach is a former parliamentary deputy and one of the best-known Catalan-language musicians ever. He retired over a decade ago, since when he has performed very rarely.
2. The JNC was the youth wing of political party Convergència, the predecessor of PDeCAT, the centre-right, pro-independence party both Rull and president Puigdemont belong to.
3. Jordi Pujol, the leader of Convergència, was president of Catalonia from 1980-2003.