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Press Release on Catalan referendum

The independence vote on 1 October, 2017 in Catalonia was characterized by excessive political violence against voters in numerous towns of the region.

“In 2017, UNITED has been focusing on the phenomenon of youth radicalization and the prevention of violent extremism in Europe. Based on the processes that were identified during our conferences and study sessions, we see many similar patterns in recent events in Catalonia that can possibly lead to serious consequences if the non-dialogue between the Spanish and Catalan authorities keep using nationalistic narratives during their discussions”, said Balint Josa, Programme Coordinator of the UNITED Secretariat.

Last Sunday, around 15.000 police officers of the Spanish Guardia Civil police were ordered by the Spanish government to stop the vote by raiding polling stations. Hundreds of citizens were reported to be injured due to violence of police officers who were dragging peaceful protesters by the hair, beating voters and firing rubber bullets at crowds. Police forces appeared even in small villages where riot police had never set foot before.

The UNITED network stands firm against all forms of violence and calls for peaceful negotiations between the government of Catalonia and Spain in order to reach mutual consensus and find a mutually acceptable solution to the conflict.

“I believe that such occurrences irrevocably affect the population as a whole and have great likelihood to induce radical and violent reactions from the affected parties. Although we are aware that the referendum defied the Spanish constitutional court, the reaction of the Spanish Guardia Civil police was disproportionate and none of the violent actions are justified”, Mr Josa added. “We condemn all forms of violence and demand the prosecution of all perpetrators who were, directly or indirectly, involved in using aggression against voters, including impeachment of political leaders.”

Additionally, reports from UNITED network activists confirm that Far-Right is participating in all events to support the government and is organizing other demonstrations in every city against the Catalan referendum, using them for their own political gain.

 

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