The chaos grows as the police officers shoot rubber bullets towards the protesters standing firmly to prevent the police force from confiscating ballot boxes. Mass foreign media rushes to the site to film the pandemonium. The officers are inflicting violence upon unarmed citizens these citizens include elders to young children. Some are screaming for help and the others scream to warn the protesters. This all happened last Sunday when the Catalan referendum was held to observe whether or not the Catalans want independence from Spain.
Warning: The following video contains a disturbing material (violence), please consider that in mind before you watch the video.
Video of police brutality on the protesters (The Guardian)
If you were caught up in recent news, you probably would have heard of the referendum in Catalonia, Spain and the conflict grows in the region. As the media says, Catalans were deciding whether or not to become independent from Spain and the referendum results were shocking. According to the Catalan officials, two days ago, 90% of the Catalans voted “Yes” for Catalan independence. However, during the process of the referendum, around 900 people were injured by the police force. The public uproared with the news, which led to more people running out to the streets to show their support, but as the video from above shows, the protest was disbanded by force by the police.
But first, we have to ask ourselves, why does Catalonia want to become an independent state?
According to the regional president of the independence campaign, Carles Puigdemont, he claims that Catalonia has a moral, cultural, economic and political differences with the Spanish federal government. This argument has gained more support from the Catalan public since the Great Spanish Depression that occurred from 2008 to the present day. According to the Catalan independence campaign, the region of Catalonia has contributed way more than the other parts of the country and because the Catalans got sick of supporting the federal government, Catalonia should gain independence.
How are the Spanish Government and the anti-independence group responding to the referendum?
Before the referendum even started, the Spanish government made a statement saying that the referendum was unconstitutional and will not have any effect on the status of the Catalan sovereignty. Then, right before the referendum started, the Spanish government sent forces to the voting booths around the Catalan region in order to stop the Spanish citizens residing in Catalonia from voting. The Catalan regional government quickly denounced the act, saying that the Spanish government is acting “beyond the limits of a respectable democracy.”. Seven hours before the booths closed, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, made a statement saying that the referendum “only served to cause serious harm to coexistence” among Spaniards but he is “not going to close any door” to dialogue. After the result came out the Spanish Prime Minister again emphasized on his point that the referendum was an illegal act and will not hold any significant effect on the autonomy of Catalonia.
Official statement from the current Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy (The Guardian)
Meanwhile, the anti-independence groups of Catalonia have currently swirled in controversy as the media reports that some of the anti-independence protesters made a fascist salute while marching down the streets, chanting the far-right Spanish song ‘Cara Al-Sol’, a song chanted when the Fascist faction of Spain won the civil war in 1939 against the communists.
How are the rest of the world and other regions of Spain reacting to the referendum?
The current Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel made a statement two days ago:
Violence can never be the answer!
In addition, the French Economy Minister, the Scottish First Minister, Premier of Quebec and the former Belgian Prime Minister all condemned the violent acts held by both sides, whereas the British Foreign Ministry and the Serbian Foreign Minister supported the government in Madrid saying that the constitution and laws of Spain should be present. The Venezuelan President supported the Catalan government while shaming the Spanish government for the brutal treatment towards the voters.
In Quebec, politicians representing Parti Quebecois have shown support for the Catalan independence via their twitter account.
In Spain, citizens of Bilbao and Valencia, both showed solidarity for the Catalan citizens affected by the police brutality. Not only that, but four days ago, another independence-seeking region, the Basque region, had citizens gathering up in the streets to support the Catalan independence.
The updates on the referendum will be told later this month.