Today, December 6, is a bitter day. Officially, Spain celebrates all dressed up, with pomp and grandiloquent rhetoric, the 40th anniversary of a Constitution that is kept under lock and key to prevent it from ever being amended. It is irrelevant that four out of the nine Catalan political prisoners unjustly accused of “rebellion” for events occurring in autumn of 2017, are now on hunger strike. It is the only recourse they have to protest the discrimination and arbitrariness to which they are exposed under the highly politicized Spanish justice system.

The Catalan sovereignty movement has emphasized its civic, pacifist and democratic convictions as a matter of principle. It has never used violence as a means of expression or to achieve its goals. As a result of this, Germany dismissed the handing over of Carles Puigdemont for “rebellion” to the Spanish justice system. It is highly likely that Belgium, Scotland, and Switzerland, where Catalan political exiles are now, would have also dismissed further requests if Spanish justice had not swiftly withdrawn the European Arrest Warrant and extradition request, anticipating further defeats. Yet, the justices of the Spanish Supreme Court need to pursue this false charge in order to justify remanding Catalan political prisoners in pre-trial custody, without bail, and for longer than a year now. Throughout this time, the violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, have occurred repeatedly: against the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, against the right to freedom, political rights and due process of the law, and even against the right to a speedy trial without undue delays.

Counsel for Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Joaquim Forn have filed about twenty protection pleas before the [Spanish] Constitutional Tribunal against rulings by the Spanish Audiencia Nacional and the Spanish Supreme Court. Statistically, the Constitutional Tribunal admits between 1 and 1.5% only of all appeals (or protection pleas) filed. In the current case, it has admitted them all, without exception. Spanish law and the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Tribunal provide for the resolution within a maximum of 30 days of any appeal motions involving pre-trial detention, as a result of the serious effects flowing from the latter. In the case of the Catalan political prisoners, none of the appeals has been resolved yet, under the excuse of the alleged “complexity” of the case. The first protection plea was filed on November 22, 2017. Therefore, it has lasted more than a year. The Constitutional Tribunal accepts all the protection pleas but resolves none for the Catalan political prisoners. This is a deplorable tactic to delay to the maximum extent possible the filing of complaints before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where for the first time the accused will receive fair treatment.

What a scandal! But authoritarian Spanish nationalism, consisting of a fierce nationalism emanating from the State, is unconcerned about discrediting the rule of law and Spanish justice in the eyes of the world. Gut revenge against the Catalan dissident prevails over any other consideration. Our history is replete with sad examples of this.

In the meantime, the Europe that boasts to its neighbors about defending human dignity, freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights, simply whistles and looks the other way.

Today is a bitter day indeed.

For more information about the Hunger Strike of the four Catalan political prisoners see: www.vagadefam.cat

Barcelona, December 6, 2018