The relatives of pro-independence leaders jailed in Madrid spoke at the European Parliament on Tuesday to condemn the situation of their family members as “punishment, revenge and humiliation” by Spain.
The event was also attended by relatives of the young men charged with terrorism for their involvement in a bar brawl in Alsasua (Basque Country), and the support group for convicted rapper Valtonyc from Mallorca, who recently left Spain to avoid entering jail.
Anna Forn, the daughter of deposed minister Joaquim Forn, called on the European Union to prevent “one of its member states acting with impunity.” “Today, we are the ones defending freedom and democracy, but tomorrow it could be others, and this should not only scare all Spanish citizens, but also those in Europe” she said.
9 in jail, 7 in exile
Forn was sent to jail on November 2, shortly after being deposed by the Spanish government following a declaration of independence. There are currently nine pro-independence leaders imprisoned in Madrid awaiting trial, while seven left the country to seek refuge across Europe.
“I married a pacifist and now he is in jail accused of rebellion—a crime that only applies in cases where there has been violence, which was not the case” said Diana Riba, the wife of Raül Romeva, the deposed minister of foreign affairs.
Before assuming his post as minister, Romeva himself had been a member of the European Parliament for around a decade. Riba acknowledged that being in the chamber was “hard” for her.
Former colleague in prison
The event was also attended by members of the EU-Catalonia Platform Dialogue, encompassing 40 MEPs from five different political groups and several member states. Its president, Ivo Vajgl, said he was “ashamed” of the European Parliament’s reaction to the situation in Spain, and added that “this should not happen in a democratic Europe.”
Another member of the platform, the Flemish MEP Mark Demesmaeker, said that “Of all the Catalan political prisoners, I know just one very well personally, and I consider him a good friend of mine: he is Raül Romeva.” The MEP added that “it kills me to know that this man has been in prison for more than 100 days.”
Catalan MEPs Josep Maria Terricabras, Jordi Solé, Ernest Urtasun and Ramon Tremosa also joined the conference. “We don’t hear enough outraged voices in this chamber, where we often speak about human rights and democracy,” said Solé, an MEP for pro-independence Esquerra Republicana.