Catalan MEP Carles Puigdemont has today criticised the European Council for failing to take action against abuses of fundamental rights within EU borders, and limiting itself to addressing human rights violations that take place in the rest of the world. "Is there nothing to mention about a member state that dismisses two consecutive presidents of national minorities for strictly political reasons?" he asked in relation to the recent removal from office of Catalan president Quim Torra after a court ruling. Torra thus became the second consecutive Catalan president to be removed from office following the Spanish government's dismissal in 2017 of the entire Catalan administration led by Puigdemont himself.
“Is there nothing to say about a public prosecution service which proposes a constitutional re-education programme for political prisoners?” he asked, in reference to the arguments used by Spanish prosecutors to demand the suspension of prison leave privileges for the pro-independence leaders serving long jail terms for sedition, as a result of the 2017 independence process.
"Is there nothing to say about a member state that convicts the most important university in the country because it has demanded the release of political prisoners and for having defended freedom of expression?", he asked from his seat, referring to the just-announced court verdict finding the University of Barcelona guilty for having denounced the judicialization of politics and for having demanded the release of the pro-independence leaders from prison.
Violations of human rights
In his one-minute speech at the parliamentary session to discuss recent decisions taken by the national leaders who sit on the European Council, Puigdemont criticized the body for its apparently contradictory criteria: taking positions on the situations in Turkey, China, Belarus and Nagorno -Karabakh - "it's necessary, the world should hear the Europe's voice even if it's shy" - while on the other hand, avoiding comments on what's going on within the union.
"Europeans also want to hear the voice of Europe when there are violations of human rights within our borders," he asserted.
Puigdemont ended his speech by warning the Council that "to be credible, to be influential elsewhere, the Council should speak about these issues, too."
On 1st and 2nd October, the European Council called for constructive dialogue in Turkey and sided with Greece and Cyprus in the face of violations of their sovereignty; it condemned the violence perpetrated by the Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters and the arbitrary detentions after the presidential election; it expressed "deep concern" over the situation of fundamental rights in China, and demanded unconditional negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia and an immediate cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.
"Not a word about political prisoners"
This Tuesday afternoon, MEP Toni Comín also denounced Europe's silence on the Catalan prisoners. He did so at the beginning of his speech before the plenary session on European climate law.
"There is a European Union that when it speaks of the rule of law does not say a word about political prisoners," said Comín, contrasting this silence from the Union with its work on climate law, which represents "a hopeful EU".