I may be in prison but we Catalans will keep up the struggle

It has been just over two weeks since I and seven other members of the Catalan government were sent to Estremera prison, outside Madrid, to await trial on charges of rebellion. I still haven’t been able to meet the ministers held in other cell blocks. Communication with the outside world is very limited: we can only talk for 50 minutes each week on the phone and I have not seen my children. I dedicate my time to reflection and thankfully, as a Catholic, to prayer. I have time to think about the past but also about the future.

The Spanish government has usurped the government of Catalonia. They say Catalonia now has another government, but nobody voted for it. Both the ruling People’s Party and the Socialists have opted for repression, suspending freedoms, liquidating our institutions, sending us to prison.

Shortly before we were deprived of our freedom, it was being leaked to both the Spanish press and politicians that the judge would demand that we be held in jail without bail. Everything had been prearranged. Judge Carmen Lamela needed only five minutes
of our testimony before announcing her decision.

Carles Puigdemont is the only legitimate president of Catalonia and is now in exile, after being released from custody by decision of the Belgian justice system. The contrast could not be more obvious: Spanish justice does not act like its European counterparts. This is not an opinion, it’s simply a fact.

We Catalans are peaceful, brave people. We have our children in mind as we face punishment for defending Catalonia’s freedom. The Spanish government wants us on our knees, submissive, but it will find us on our feet.

We will dedicate all of our energy to defending democracy, political and civil rights, to winning freedom. We will proceed with determination, courage and absolute respect for everyone’s opinions, in a civic and non-violent manner.

In the name of Spanish unity, Catalans are brutally attacked and institutions are stormed. We believe that differences need to be settled democratically. So on December 21 we will vote on independence. Again. Because the best response we can offer is a democratic victory. We will work nonstop, we will carry on and persevere, peacefully, with our heads held high and a joyous heart.

Oriol Junqueras

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