The University of Barcelona (UB) will appeal the ruling banning the declaration issued by the higher institution in solidarity with the nine Catalan political prisoners sentenced to between 9 and 13 years in prison last October. “The university’s autonomy is at stake, and this is a fundamental value for us” rector Joan Elias tweeted.

On Monday, a local Barcelona court banned it on the grounds that the university violated ideological freedoms, the  freedom of speech and of education. The judge believes that a public university has to be neutral because “it is not an institution of political representation.” “It cannot assume a political stance as its own, and let alone if this stance is openly against the judicial framework in force.”

The university’s guilty verdict consists of banning the official declaration, publishing the sentence for at least a month on the UB’s website and paying the costs of the judicial procedure of up to €600. A student and four professors had filed a lawsuit against the institution after the declaration was made public last October.

Right to self-determination

The manifesto being discussed was a joint declaration agreed by all of Catalonia’s public universities on October 24, 2019 – UB had endorsed it three days before – only a week after nine of the 2017 independence referendum leaders were convicted to a decade-long prison sentence on sedition charges.

The document reads that Catalonia was living in a “situation of repression and erosion of the civil rights and freedoms.” It also stood up for the right to self-determination, the demonstrations demanding the release of the imprisoned politicians and denounced “police repression and violence.”

The manifesto also said that “in a mature democratic culture there is no other way to solve conflicts and political differences than dialogue, negotiation and respect for the democratic expression of the people’s will.”

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