The Catalan independence movement has this Thursday given a show of unity in support of Òmnium Cultural, after the new search of the organisation's headquarters today. The three pro-independence parties, pro-independence associations like ANC, AMI and ACM and the political party CeC have gathered in Barcelona's plaça Sant Jaume to express rejection of the Spanish state's repression and a common front to the new attack.
They were joined by several thousands members of the public calling for unity and the release of the political prisoners.
Today's protest comes after agents from the Civil Guard, Spain's gendarmerie, entered Òmnium's headquarters this morning looking for evidence relating to the organisation and financing of the independence referendum on 1st October last year. Agents also entered the Catalan government palace and held the director general of Communication and Broadcasting, Antoni Molons, who was later released waiting to appear before a judge.
The protest was attended by the current speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent (ERC), and his predecessors Carme Forcadell, Ernest Benach, Núria de Gispert and Joan Rigol. Also present were various JxCat deputies including Elsa Artadi, Eduard Pujol, Quim Torra and Laura Borràs, CUP deputies Carles Riera and Natàlia Sànchez, and CeC representatives like Xavier Domènech and Gerardo Pisarello. Òmnium also received support from the vice-president of the Catalan Naitonal Assembly, Agustí Alcoberro, and the new presidents of Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) and Catalan Association of Municipalities (ACM), Josep Maria Cervera, in his first official event in the role, and David Saldoní.
"Let's stop branding each other as cowardly, traitorous and hyperventilating"
During the event, Òmnium's vice-president, Marcel Mauri, denounced the new search of the entity and said that such levels of repression "in the middle of the 21st century should ashame any democrat". Mauri said that Spanish police and justice are looking to blame them. Instead, he said, they are funded by their members and that in their headquarters "they will only find 50 years of work" and "strength in the face of every attack". "If they attack one of us, they attack us all," he said.
Mauri denounced that "persecuting dissidence is called dictatorship" and call for an end to the "persecution of ideas".
Finally, as negotiations continue to invest a new president of Catalonia, he also called for unity and for people to get to work for the conquest of liberty. "The republic only has us, we have to be clear", said Òmnium's vice-president, who called for no one to stop "in the face of the repression and arrests". "Whilst the repression doesn't stop, let's stop branding each other as cowardly, traitorous and hyperventilating," he said.
Calls to unity
Under placards reading "we are all Òmnium", those gathered in Sant Jaume called for the unity of the pro-independence parties and the release of the political prisoners. Among the chants heard were: "Puigdemont, our president", "out occupants of the government palace" and "out Spanish flag".
Before the start of the protest, JxCat deputy Quim Torra denounced the "McCarthyism the state imposes in every response" to its conflict with the independence movement, responses that are "always legal, never political, which is what we want".
On the other hand, ERC's leader in Barcelona, Alfred Bosch, described the searches as "absolutely unacceptable" and warned that "we're becoming a true police state". He asked "why there are still people who don't go out into the streets to protest".
ACM president David Saldoni expressed regret over today's searches and denounced the "repression" of organisations like Òmnium, "trying to cause fear in the face of a democratic outburst like the 1st October", he said in statements to the media.
He was accompanied by Josep Maria Cervera, mayor of Port de la Selva, chosen just hours ago as the new president of AMI. Cervera expressed his regret at his first official appearance in the role being in such "sad" circumstances and also called for an end to the "police repression". "Let's stop solving political problems in the courts, let's sit down, talk, negotiate, you can't persecute the ideas of a whole people".
The event ended with "Els Segadors", the Catalan anthem, and "L'estaca", a song by Lluís Llach heard regularly at pro-independence protests in recent months.