MEPs visit Catalan political prisoners

A delegation of 13 MEPs, 12 of which are members of the EU – Catalonia Dialogue Platform, travelled to Catalonia and visited all nine Catalan political prisoners on Friday 7th of September 2018. The group was formed by Martina Anderson, Lynn Boylan, Lidia Senra, former MEP Josu Juaristi and Marie-Pierre Vieu (GUE/NGL), Izaskun Bilbao, Ramon Tremosa and Ivo Vajgl (ALDE), Mark Demesmaeker (ECR), Ana Gomes (S&D), Ana Miranda, Jordi Solé and Josep-Maria Terricabras (Greens/EFA).

This is the first visit from members of the European Parliament to the Catalan political prisoners, after not having been authorized by Spanish authorities to see them for months. Last July, the nine officials were transferred to Catalan penitentiary centers, so the Catalan administration authorized the visits.

The delegation went to Lledoners prison to visit former MEPs Oriol Junqueras (also former Vice President of Catalonia) and Raül Romeva (also former Minister for External Action). They also visited former Catalan Ministers Joaquim Forn, Jordi Turull and Josep Rull, and two social leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez. MEPs also visited former Catalan Minister Dolors Bassa in Puig de les Basses Prison and former President of the Catalan Parliament Carme Forcadell in Mas d’Enric Prison.

Chair of the EU – Catalonia Platform, Ivo Vajgl, urged Spain to drop the charges against them: “There is still time for these absurd and incomprehensible rebellion charges to be dropped,” he said. “Spain could still safeguard a piece of its honor if this happens,” Vajgl added. According to him, the Catalan politicians are “only in prison for revenge.”

Ana Gomes (S&D) asked the Spanish socialist government to make the “release of the political prisoners a priority” in order for “dialogue and reconciliation to develop.”

“On October 1 some of us were here, as MEPs. The label of rebellion is not only illegal, but the wrong people are in jail. We witnessed the violence by the Spanish state, by the Guardia Civil,” said Martina Anderson. She added that “we are concerned that there will be a non-fair trial” and that “the EU is not doing enough”, as the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission “are tolerating violations of democracy”.