Free the political prisoners

2 min
Exterior del centre penitenciari número 7 de Madrid, la presó d'Estremera

BarcelonaThe journalistic document that our paper has published today highlights the blatant injustice of the case in hand. As a reminder, it is both emotionally harsh and politically necessary. We cannot and do not want to forget the political prisoners. We have written it many times and we will say it as often as necessary: it is shameful that there are political prisoners in Spain; that is, political leaders who have been jailed due to their political views, for having taken a risk to allow the people to voice their opinion at the polls. Why on earth are democratic, peace-loving politicians such as Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn and Raül Romeva being held in Spain’s Estremera prison? They should have never been taken there. We would have never thought that one day we would publish footage such as this, pictures that show the dignity of individuals whose conduct in prison is exemplary; pictures that denounce the fact that they are being kept on remand, even though there are no grounds for pre-trial detention, as proven by the way European justice is dealing with the Catalan leaders in exile.

Releasing the political prisoners —those whose life behind bars we got a glimpse of today, and the rest of them (Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Jordi Turull and grassroots leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez)— is a necessary condition for Catalonia and Spain to engage in political talks again, a dialogue which should have never broken down. Meanwhile, democratic life well beyond Catalonia’s independence bid is being debased to an unprecedented extent. Even singers have gone into exile. Unfortunately, there is not much room for hope. The wheels of the judiciary will keep turning. But civic, political and journalistic denunciation will follow their course, too, for as long as this huge anomaly persists.

Yet the new political time, with new governments in Barcelona and Madrid, should allow for a change, some room for hope. We insist that this change requires coming to terms with the magnitude of this injustice in a democracy. This change should bring about a real detente. The people being held in jail are honest politicians and citizens, some of whom were voted by millions of people in the last December elections. You cannot jail the longing for freedom and the political will of so many people. These are people who identify with Junqueras, Romeva or Forn when they see them in a prison cell. People who feel their imprisonment as their own.

This footage is a sad reminder —especially for their families and friends—, but an essential one. Many years ago, in 1934, then-president Lluís Companys and many members of his government were also thrown in a prison cell. Those pictures have become iconic, a permanent reminder of a dramatic time. Today we are living again in a difficult time, as if history repeated itself. The Spanish State, once again, is using a thoughtless, heavy-handed approach to deal with the Catalan issue, which is difficult to explain. When will they learn? When will we be able to deal politically with a political, democratic problem? When will there be a true dialogue? When?