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The issue of the liberation of Catalonia's political prisoners had never reached such heights. On Saturday morning, more than 3,000 people organized a human chain that carried photographs of the sixteen Catalan political prisoners and exiled politicians to the vertiginous rock needle of Cavall Bernat, 1,110 metres high on the massif of Montserrat, the spectacular and historic multi-peaked mountain located near Barcelona.

human chain political prisoners / joana blackberry|Moor|delay

Human chain Collbató Montserrat / Xavi Planas

The participants in the human chain spread out along an eight kilometre trail, with a vertical rise of 650 metres, from the town of Collbató, at the foot of the massif. From the church in that town, up to a point just below the rocky ascent to Cavall Bernat, the members of the human chain passed the photographs from hand to hand, and then finally to a team of firefighters and climbers from the Catalan Hiking Federation, who were responsible for hoisting the photos up the final peak. Among them was Ferran Latorre, the first Catalan to achieve the feat of the 'EightThousanders' - the conquest of all fourteen of the world's peaks higher than 8,000 metres, in the Himalaya.

Human chain Collbató Montserrat / Xavi Planas

The human chain, entitled Faran el cim! in Catalan - "They'll reach the top" - involved more than 3,000 participants, among them many local residents of Collbató who also wanted to contribute to the initiative. The Catalan Association for Civil Rights had organized the feat, with support from other major pro-independence groups like the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Òmnium Cultural, and Firefighters for the Republic. Among those who took part were Laura Masvidal, wife of imprisoned minister Joaquim Forn, and JxCat deputy Eduard Pujol.

Montserrat political prisoners 2 Twitter @betonacomin

Puigdemont: "With solidarity and confidence we'll get to the top"

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont offered his thanks for the initiative in a tweet: "From the bottom to the top, with everybody helping, with solidarity and confidence, we'll reach the summit of freedom and we'll build the Republic of democracy".

Gratitude from Cuixart and Sànchez

The imprisoned president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, and the ex-president of the ANC, Jordi Sànchez, also jailed, showed their gratitude for the gesture from the Madrid prison of Soto del Real where they are held. Jordi Cuixart gave a message by letter with words for the organizers and participants in the human chain. "Close your eyes tightly: do not doubt that we are here with you all like one united people, closer together than ever. With more energy and hope than ever", he wrote, also adding a call to carry on the fight for liberties.

Meanwhile, Sànchez used a Twitter message to repeat one of his best known uterrances — "Llum als ulls i força al braç!"  - "[Let there be] light in your eyes and strength in your arms!"— and he thanked all those who took part.

Imprisoned Catalan ministers Jordi Turull and Joaquim Forn also sent tweets. "Together we will reach the summit of freedom. Thank you. You are giants!", wrote Turull, while Forn stated his gratitude for the "effort, commitment and conviction" with a very optimistsic message: "All that you do, and especially, how you do it, makes me see that the goal of freedom that we seek is closer than ever to being within our grasp", he declared.

Montserrat and the political prisoners

Montserrat was already in the news on Friday when the abbot of mountain's historic abbey, Josep Maria Soler, prayed to the Virgin of Montserrat - the famous Madonna and Child statue in the abbey - "to watch over those who are in preventive detention or abroad" because of the current political situation, as well as caring for their relatives. The leadership of the Montserrat abbey has been especially critical of the political situation in Catalonia, following a long tradition of speaking out against repression. In 1963, for example, the then-abbot Aureli Escarré spoke out against the repression by the Franco regime, a gesture that forced the religious leader to go into exile.

Photographs: Crida per la Llibertat, Joana Mora and Xavi Planas.