An online campaign is calling for Scots to show their support for Catalonia and ‘defend democracy’ in the aftermath of the contentious referendum in the north-east province of Spain.
The newly-launched Catalan Defence Committee Scotland follows the establishment of sister groups across Europe and has already won support from several prominent politicians and campaigners, including lawyer Aamer Anwar and Scottish Greens co-campaigner Maggie Chapman.
It promises to lobby MSPs and the Scottish Government “to do all it can” to support the civil rights of Catalans, as well as organising regular public demonstrations.
The Spanish Government was widely criticised for its response to a plebiscite organised by the devolved Catalan parliament on October 1, which the authorities in Madrid had previously declared illegal.
The top court in Spain this week upheld the ruling, saying the vote was unconstitutional.
“The brutality and repression that has been visited upon the people of Catalonia cannot be allowed to continue, or to be legitimised,” the Catalan Defence Committee Scotland said in a statement posted on its website.
“Hundreds of Scots have travelled to Catalonia to act as international observers, and to let the Spanish state know that the world is watching. At home, we have organised several demonstrations. News and pictures of these have circulated on Catalan social media, and we know that this has made a positive impact.
“But we need to do more. Catalan human rights organisations and social movements have called for international support. That is why we are organising the Catalan Defence Committee Scotland, to help maximise our solidarity efforts. The name mirrors the local referendum defence committees set up by Catalans to defend the referendum process by practising non-violent mass action.”
The UK Government has been firm in its support of Spain. Yesterday, a Conservative minister took aim at SNP politicians for ‘calling themselves official observers’ during the disputed referendum.
Joanna Cherry, SNP MP for Edinburgh South-West, was among a number of European parliamentarians who were invited by the devolved Catalan government to observe the vote.
Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan said: “It is the duty of everyone in this house to uphold the rule of law, so I regret the SNP choosing to call themselves official observers at what was an illegal referendum.”
Ms Cherry later raised a point of order and demanded an apology after noting that the SNP did not send official observers to the referendum, but that the delegation was there as international parliamentary observers.
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont last week announced he had a mandate to declare independence but would not immediately move to put it into effect to allow time for talks and mediation.