Nobel Peace Prize winners Ahmed Galai and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel have publicly expressed their support for the Catalan independence referendum planned for 1st October. They were, along with three fellow Peace Prize winners, among the fifty international figures to sign a declaration of support presented today.
"Preventing the Catalans from voting seems to contradict the principles that inspire democratic societies", says the statement, read by the vice-president of the Tunisian Human Rights League, Ahmed Galai in the Torres Garcia room in the Catalan government's palace alongside the president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont.
The documents call for "the Spanish government and its institutions and their Catalan counterparts to work together so that the citizens of Catalonia can decide their political future through a vote and to negotiate in all good faith based on the results of this vote."
The document, which comes from the Let Catalans Vote campaign, promoted by Catalan organisation Òmnium Cultural since 2014, has the support of around fifty personalities. Among them, apart from Galai and Esquivel, Rigoberta Menchú, Desmond Tutu, Jody Williams and Dario Fo. All of those have won Nobel prizes, the first five the Peace Prize, the last for Literature.
Galai said that, personally, he believes that "the referendum announced for 1st October is the best opportunity to defend and to preserve the democratic principles and the values of peace in the search for a negotiated solution to the political conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish state".
"Ballot boxes should never, ever be considered a problem, nor [be] the cause of a conflict. On 1st October neither", said Galai, whose Tunisian Human Rights League was one of the four organisations in the National Dialogue Quartet that was recognised in 2015 with the Nobel Peace Prize for their decisive contribution in the construction of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia.
After the Nobel laureate had finished, Puigdemont spoke, taking the opportunity to warn the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, that the thing that would be a con and a coup d'état would be to ban the vote on 1st October. Then, a video recorded of Esquivel giving his support was shown.
"Every people has the right to self-determination, to sovereignty, to its identity, to its culture, to its belonging. And that is what the Catalan people have", said Esquivel before addressing himself to the Spanish authorities saying that dialogue "is the best path to resolve conflicts". "I wish you much strength and much hope", he concludes after describing his confidence that the referendum will lead to the finding of a solution.
Among the signatories of the document appear politicians, writers, sociologists, athletes, actors and singers. The collection of signatures started three years ago, due to which some of the signatories like Dario Fo, the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman and the footballer Johan Cruyff are already dead.