Joaquim Forn was Catalonia’s Interior Minister from July 14 to October 27, 2017. In this short period, he had to deal with the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, and with the celebration of the independence referendum held in Catalonia on October 1, 2017. As a result of the independence declaration on October 27, he was removed from office by the Spanish Government, initially went to Belgium and was then remanded in custody upon return to Spain.
Joaquim Forn has been held on remand without bail nor trial date for one year. He decided to keep a diary in prison from day one and on September 20, 2018 a book titled Escrits de presó (Writings from Prison) came out, published in Catalan by Enciclopèdia. Thanks to the bookhouse’s permission, we are able to offer our worldwide readers an exclusive selection of some of the diary’s key entries in English language, in what proves to be the honest testimony of the life of a Catalan political prisoner.
December 21, 2017
We had a very quiet morning. We played tennis. In the afternoon, we even took the opportunity to rest for a long time in expectation that the night would be long.
As with every day, after dinner we were confined to our cells. This means that by 7:30 pm we were already locked in our cell, Oriol and I, to follow the election results. Oriol was very nervous all day long. He’s beginning to let go more than in the first days — he no longer holds those long silences. He’s a good person, I’ve never doubted it.
We followed the ballot count on La 1 and La Sexta from the cell’s TV. We were very nervous, especially at the beginning. First, over a possible Arrimadas win and, second, because Junts per Catalunya was looking like it might be the leading pro-sovereignty force in Parliament. Few people had foreseen this possibility at any time, I’m sure. Nevertheless, the last visitors I received had let me know that Puigdemont’s group could receive the most votes. Did the ERC people know? Had they talked to Oriol? Or would you rather not tell him? I don’t know. In any case, I think Oriol hadn’t considered this possibility.
At the end of the count, when the results were already clear, tension eased up. The most important thing is that together we numbered sixty-six seats, four more than those won by the Junts pel Sí slate [in the previous election]. I sincerely believe that at the end of the day, Oriol also ended up seeing it in the same way, and shares and sees the results as a victory. However, it’s obvious that the result did not meet his expectations.
I have told him that there is no need to keep going over it, that we must look ahead and that what is really important is what will happen from now on. What will negotiations focus on? How will they pan out? I don’t know, but now is the time to share the happiness of having been able to preserve the pro-independence majority in Parliament. In prison, with such an intimate coexistence, the big political differences are lessened, while the small ones disappear completely.
Without a doubt, and this is how I see it, the result of the elections has been a success. We must not forget that they were called by the Spanish government, with many candidates in prison or exile, under the authority of Madrid’s direct rule and with the sole purpose of establishing a unionist majority. The campaign by the Spanish media and some Catalan news outlets has been blatant. Having obtained these results, and with a turnout of 82%, is fantastic in my opinion. We shouldn’t doubt it. We went to sleep peacefully, enjoying the result. It’s a victory we had dreamed of. Despite the nerves. Despite the outlook.
March 23, 2018
Today I woke up very upset by the appearance before Judge Llarena of six members of the Catalan Parliament — six!: Jordi Turull, Carme Forcadell, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa and Marta Rovira. In fact, Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa and Marta Rovira are no longer MPs because they have resigned. Pere Soler, the former director of the Mossos d’Esquadra [Catalan ], told us this morning, and he also told us that Marta Rovira did not appear before the Supreme Court and she has left the country.
Regarding her decision, I don’t want to pass judgment, but at the same time it’s clear that this doesn’t help those of us who are in prison very much: it lends credence to the notion that we pose a flight risk, as if we had the intention of turning exile into the playing field for Catalan politics.
The bad news kept coming throughout the day. The first thing we found out is our indictment. Nine members of the government stand charged with rebellion and misuse of public funds: Carles Puigdemont, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Toni Comín, Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa, Clara Ponsatí, and Joaquim Forn. Meritxell Borràs, Lluís Puig, Carles Mundó and Santi Vila are being prosecuted for disobedience and misuse of public funds. Carme Forcadell, Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart, and Marta Rovira are being prosecuted for rebellion. The bad news kept coming all day. Members of the Parliamentary Board Lluís M. Corominas, Lluís Guinó, Anna Simó, Ramona Barrufet, and Joan Josep Nuet have been charged with disobedience. MPs Anna Gabriel and Mireia Boya are also facing disobedience charges.
It was in the late afternoon, at about six-thirty, when I went to my cell and on La Sexta I saw the announcement that the five MPs who did turn up in court voluntarily would be held without bail. What a blow! I saw the images of the moment that Rull and Turull said goodbye to their families and friends, and my mood fell through the floor. They have announced that all men are being sent to Estremera, and the women to Alcalá-Meco. How sad! What rage and helplessness! I haven’t been able to eat… I’m desolate.
All this is … all this is so unfair and disproportionate, so out of place. I’ve decided that I have to pull myself together soon because, from now on, it will fall on me to cheer up my colleagues who are returning to jail.
They have already been here, it’s true, but I now know my way around in here, something that they’ll still have to do. Now I do have a certain prison know-how that they do not have.
I spoke with Laura, who was just at a Firefighters event in solidarity with the political prisoners. If only we could put out this fire, which won’t stop burning, and which is so devastating.
June 28, 2018
After lunch I heard the news about our imminent transfer to Catalan prisons. According to the journalists, the first ones to be transferred will be Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Jordi Cuixart, and Jordi Sànchez. This has been a recurring topic since the change in the Spanish government. I have not been confident up to now, but the reactions of the PP and Ciudadanos are so virulent that I tend to think that maybe they will move us to a Catalan prison. This would be, according to the PP and Ciudadanos, the price that PM Pedro Sánchez has to pay for the favorable votes of the pro-independence parties to the motion of no confidence. The truth is that they are not very original in their argument.
On the possibility of this transfer, I think it only makes sense. The reasons are many. First, it’s obvious that being in a prison in Catalonia is not the same as being held in a Madrid facility, just because our families and friends will save 1,300 km every time they come to see us. Second, being closer to our lawyers should most likely also facilitate our defense.
Now, in no way do I want this transfer closer to home to be presented to the public or interpreted as a concession towards us. Being closer to home is a right. I won’t tolerate it if it serves to whitewash the image of those who triggered Article 155 [direct rule] or those who looked the other way when the Catalan Government was jailed.
Four days from now, on July 2, it will be eight months since I was sent to Estremera. It is true that the case’s examination process is over and there is no point in having to be near the examining judge. But let us be clear that nobody is giving us anything, and that we have not achieved anything to date. The prosecution continues to accuse us of the crimes of rebellion and misuse of public funds, which carried very high penalties.
What I think is that our proclamation must remain a rejection of this trial and, at the same time, of calling for our freedom, as political prisoners, and of our rights as a people.
Being transferred from Estremera to a Catalan prison does not change the unjust situation we are going though and have suffered for months. If anybody thinks that with our transfer people will forget everything suddenly, resign themselves, or will consider our situation as good, I think that they are totally wrong. We are entitled to the transfer and we will exercise our right, of course, but the fight for freedom, justice, and a fair trial must remain our main claim.
In the afternoon I spoke on the phone with Laura, who confirmed the news about the transfer and insisted that tomorrow I should present a request addressed to the director, asking for my transfer to the Catalan prison of Lledoners. It seems that now it’s really going to happen, and things are moving fast. I will write the request right now, full speed ahead. Maybe so.