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It is over a month since we returned to the prison of Alcalá-Meco. The fact that they have us here, deprived of freedom between grey walls, under obsolete and absurd rules, has one effect that is worse than others: the constant sensation and feeling of being far away from everything that we love most: our family, our friends, “our own landscape”, the habits and cultures of our country... We miss everything! But, recently with the day of Sant Jordi, a celebration that fills people with joy, a shared day which has deep roots in our country, you made it come alive for us through your words and paper roses, which you sent us in letters.

The letters that we receive daily are our connection with reality. They are what gives us a breath of fresh air. We want to tell you that we read them all (every day we each receive around a hundred) and, even though we would like to be able to answer you, it is impossible for us. For that reason we take the opportunity here to thank you for the support and the warmth which you ensure reaches us, which gives us courage and helps us to stay strong.

In the absence of freedom we try to live with the maximum dignity possible.

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Our daily routine is monotonous, the hours go by very slowly. In fact, there is no difference between one day and the next, and for that reason the news that we receive by mail is important. We thank the media that thinks of us: El Punt AvuiAraEl Nacional, VilaWeb, El Temps, local magazines and articles that you send us in your letters. In fact, we are only permitted three activities: reading (books that our families give us in the monthly package or classics from a small prison library) and writing, taking physical exercise (one hour three days per week, organized by a prisoner) and walking in the prison yard.

We maintain our hope as well as our confidence in you. We know that you will find a solution for this unjust situation.

Often, our suffering goes beyond the personal. We believe that the lives of our families have been deeply affected ― both of us have elderly mothers ― as well as the lives of our colleagues; but also the lives of a great many people in our country.

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In this last week we have made statements to the judge and were clear in our convictions: the defence of the popular mandate from the Catalan elections of 2015, of the sovereignty of the Catalan Parliament, of ideological and political freedoms, and the freedom of expression. We believe that our right to a defence is harmed by the inability of our lawyers to take part in parallel legal processes that contribute to the general case, and that it is abusive that we have been placed in preventive detention, without any change in either the alleged offence we are accused of, or the conditions, for which the same judge decreed bail for us, just a few months earlier.

We are convinced that all of this is about democracy. For that reason we are grateful for the many shows of support which we know are taking place all around, from associations, entities, political groups and individuals. We ask you that you do not forget the political prisoners, that you do not forget those of us who are in prison and in exile, that you work to put an end to the implementation of article 155, to improve social cohesion and the lives of the people who live in Catalonia. Our dignity is the dignity of you all!

Thank you for always being there!

Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa

Carme Forcadell, speaker of the Catalan Parliament from 2015 until after the 2017 election, and Dolors Bassa, Catalan labour minister, are being held in the Spanish prison of Alcalá-Meco on remand, facing charges relating to the Catalan campaign for independence and the referendum held on October 1st, 2017.