More than 250 members of parliament from 23 different countries, including 50 members of the European Parliament, have signed a letter addressed to the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez (PSOE), and the third deputy prime minister, Yolanda Díaz (Unidas Podemos), demanding an amnesty for all Catalans imprisoned, in exile or facing persecution as a result of their participation in the independence referendum of 1st October 2017.
The letter calls for this amnesty to be put into effect "with all the required legal requirements and changes" so that it can be a starting point for a "process of dialogue and negotiation for a political solution to the conflict, based on democratic principles, mutual respect and fully respecting the democratic rights of the Catalan people”.
The letter was promoted by the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform and presented this afternoon by Irish MEP Clare Daly outside the European Parliament, accompanied by some of the signatories, including exiled members of the 2017 Catalan government Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí.
The signatories, members of the European Parliament and of the national parliaments in a total of 23 different countries so far, consider that "the time has come to take courageous steps towards normality and the resolution of the conflict by purely democratic means". "However, no normalization can be proceed with pro-independence leaders in prison or exile and without ending the persecution against of those many independence supporters who are still facing charges," warns the text in reference to the numerous court proceedings still open.
Supreme Court verdicts
The letter recalls that after the 2017 independence referendum, the Spanish Supreme Court tried and convicted part of the Catalan government and civil movement leaders from the pro-independence organizations; that nine of them are serving between nine and thirteen years in prison; that the sentences in total add up to one hundred years in prison; that seven other politicians went into exile in Belgium, Switzerland and Scotland; that hundreds of citizens, mayors, councillors, civil servants and activists are being prosecuted in relation to the referendum; and that state prosecutors have just launched another case against the former speaker of the Catalan Parliament and members of the Bureau for allowing parliamentary debates and motions on self-determination.
The text also recalls that the responses of international human rights bodies after the trial: Amnesty International concluded that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the crime of sedition violates the principle of legality and allows for the imposition of disproportionate restrictions; the text also refers to the demand made by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for the release of Catalan independence leaders; and it emphasizes that the latest elections held in Catalonia on 14th February this year showed the "remarkable resilience" of the independence movement, which won 52% of the vote.
The letter has so far been signed by MEPs and national MPs from 15 members of the European Union (Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain) and in addition, national parliamentarians from eight other countries (Canada, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Iceland, Turkey, the UK, and Uruguay).
The countries most represented among the signatories are the UK, Belgium, Ireland, Canada and France, including members of such groups as the British Labour Party, Sinn Féin, the Scottish National Party, the Bloc Québécois, the Kurdish party HDP and the Flemish NVA.
In fact, on top of those representing European and national parliaments, there are also many adherents from the Quebec, Northern Ireland and Flemish assemblies, bringing the total number of elected representatives who have given their support to the letter to well over 300.