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The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) has appealed to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to protect the rights of the "Catalan minority" within Spain. 

In a letter signed by ANC president Elisenda Paluzie, the pro-independence organization has asked the European institutions to revise the chapter on Spain in the recently-published Rule of Law in Europe 2020 report, which failed to include the input from 14 Catalan civil society institutions - ranging from the Catalan Ombudsman to the ANC itself. The Assembly asserts that the European Commission's report is incomplete without including the allegations of "human rights violations" by the state against Catalonia - such as the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, and that of self-determination.

The omission of this information by the EU was a "bitter disappointment", says the ANC, given that other international bodies have addressed it: for the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations on human rights in Spain (in January 2020) contributions from the Assembly and other Catalan organizations were taken into account in the reports by the UN Human Rights Council, with over 110 countries raising questions and recommendations on the situation of human rights in Spain.

The letter also points out that the UN Special Rapporteur on Minorities, Fernand de Varennes, said in March 2020 that the Spanish state "has a legal obligation to protect the rights of the Catalan minority, especially with regard to freedom of expression, including political expression, as well as freedom of assembly and association, fundamental rights and participation in public life."

In response, however, the Spanish state "has not addressed" any of these recommendations. Spain's "lack of respect for the rule of law" is only matched by its tendency to mention it as much as possible, asserts the letter. "The accountability of EU member states rests on supranational institutions such as the European Commission, and European citizens need to know that their representation is taken into account if they are to trust these institutions," the ANC emphasizes.

The letter also notes that four anniversaries falling this week underline the "deterioration of the human rights situation" in Spain, especially as it affects Catalans: the 2019 court verdict sentencing nine Catalan leaders to jail for sedition; also in 2019, the jailing of Spanish activist Dani Gallardo for protesting in Madrid against the court decisions; the 2017 jailing of activists Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, denounced as arbitrary by a UN Working Group; and the 1940 execution by the Franco regime of Catalan president Lluís Companys, for which Spain has never apologized.

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