Statement from Ada Colau Ballano on Catalonian independence referendum, Mayor of Barcelona

Statement from Ada Colau Ballano on Catalonian independence referendum, Mayor of Barcelona

Ada Colau Ballano

The government of the PP persists in its lies. It continues to deny what is obvious to the international press and to everyone who has seen the images of the police crackdown on October 1 in Catalunya: that there was violence, brutality, viciousness.

For many years, the right-wing in Spain has created a false and distorted image of what is happening in Catalunya. They speak of totalitarianism, of a broken society, of a population cowed by violent separatists. Even the words they choose are not neutral. “Seditious” and “separatist” are not descriptive terms but rather are highly charged. They begin by dehumanizing the other with these words … and they end by beating elderly women in the doors of schools, and calling this behaviour “professionalism”, “proportionality” and “defence of democracy”.

When there are two very different versions of the same reality, it is best to analyse the facts.

It is a fact that on October 1, 844 people were injured. One of them has almost lost an eye…proportionality? What is proportional to an eye? What is proportional to pushing a woman down stairs? To grabbing elderly women by the hair? To the fear that children felt and still feel at seeing their schools damaged?

I am not in favour of independence for Catalunya, and I do not support unilateral actions. I have said this many times and I say it again. I am very critical of the government of Puigdemont and I do not like how things have been handled. But there is something which rises above our individual opinions and which should unite all of us who believe in and defend rights, freedom and democracy: the use of state violence against a peaceful population cannot be tolerated.

Today the government spokesman has called the Catalans who demonstrated against the police repression “Nazis”. Again, the words … Nazis? Is Mr. Hernando aware of what the Nazis did? Did the Nazis demonstrate peacefully for years to secure the right to vote? Did the Nazis protect schools while hundreds of police beat them? The thousands of men and women, young and old, who today have filled the streets chanting “We are people of peace” are really “Nazis”? Using the word “Nazi” so carelessly is an insult to the victims of Nazism and Mr. Hernando should be ashamed.

If what I am writing manages to cross informational borders, if people outside of Catalunya read it and want to know what is happening here, I would respectfully ask them to attempt to analyse this conflict with an open mind. I would dare them to question what is being said by government spokespeople, what is being denied and, even worse, what is being justified.

We are facing a state crisis without precedent and I am concerned about the complete impasse in the relationship between the Catalan and Spanish governments. But what would be truly tragic would be if we allow the many ties of fraternity and affection that unite us, the people, to be fractured. We cannot allow this.

We have been hit. We have been hurt. It will not be easy to forget this. We need your support.

What has happened violates the fundamental rights and freedoms of all of us: Catalans, Spaniards, Europeans…Today it is Catalunya, but tomorrow it may be anywhere if we accept this and it goes unpunished. If we justify it, we are lost. Everyone loses. Democracy loses.

Our fathers, mothers and grandparents who together fought for democracy would not forgive us. For them, for their legacy, let us join together to save democracy, to remove from their posts those people who ordered this crackdown and who are incapable of seeking political and peaceful solutions. Those in government must listen, must respect the people, must put forth positive proposals and alternatives and, above all, must never act against an unarmed population.