For a second night in a row, protesters are taking to the streets of Catalonia to demand the release of jailed rapper Pablo Hasél. The pro-independence protest network Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) called people to the Jardinets de Gràcia in Barcelona to “demand freedom” for the Catalan musician. There are also demonstrations in other towns and cities, including the rapper’s hometown of Lleida.
There has been some tension between police and protesters at the demonstrations in the Catalan capital and Girona in particular, with dumpsters set on fire and objects thrown at police, who have responded by firing rubber bullets.
— VilaWeb (@VilaWeb) February 17, 2021
On Tuesday night, demonstrations turned into clashes between protesters and police in many cities including Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Vic, with at least 15 arrests made, and at least 33 people receiving medical attention. 17 police officers were also injured.
Young woman loses an eye
One young woman in Barcelona lost an eye during the disturbances on Tuesday. The Irídia Center, which defends civil and political rights and first reported the incident, said the injury was caused by a foam bullet. According to the group, the injured party is a 19-year-old woman. During the riots, an image of the girl with a bloodied face spread on social media.
Irídia said that “for years” it has been arguing that foam bullets are very dangerous and can lead to serious injuries and “even death”. They also believe that police leadership must put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure that there is no unwarranted use of foam bullets.
Hasél was arrested at the University of Lleida, in western Catalonia, on Tuesday morning. Spain’s National Court sentenced Hasél to two years and nine months behind bars for two separate cases relating to the content of some of his songs and tweets as they were deemed to be “glorification of terrorism” as well as slandering the crown and Spanish law enforcement. The rapper barricaded himself inside the university on Monday, after the 10-day window he was granted to turn himself in voluntarily ended.
Pablo Hasél declared himself “satisfied” after his first night in prison, feeling that he has unleashed a “wave of outrage” against Spanish institutions “reminiscent of the Franco dictatorship.”
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