Standing peacefully, barefaced and with our hands in the air
Former President of the ANC and President of JxCat’s parliamentary groupThe decision to engage in civil unrest, a path chosen by a minority, takes us in the opposite direction from where we ought to be heading. There is no excuse for carrying out such actions —however minor they may be—, which go against the civil, non-violent nature of the mass demonstrations which have been held since 2010 in support of independence. There are those who will seek reasons to justify what we have witnessed in recent days, last Monday night in particular. They will find no support for such acts in Lledoners prison. Nothing justifies violence and civil unrest. Not only as a matter of unwavering beliefs, principles and values, but also for practical reasons.
Non-violence can never be a mere strategy to be used and discarded at whim. If we hold firm to the principles of non-violence and retain our peaceful attitude, we will continue to gain ground in our efforts towards building a republic and strengthening a society united by the basic principles and values of plurality and democratic rights and freedoms. If we make concessions to violence, we will have wasted a sizeable portion of what we have achieved so far and one of our greatest assets, namely our enormous ability to rally people.
The Spanish state has created a false narrative about violence. It has done so because it knows it is the only means by which to weaken us. Violence —whether real or imagined— is to the state’s advantage. This will always be true. Which means that, aside from being immoral, it is not a good idea for us to abandon non-violence and embrace the idea of civil unrest, however fleetingly.
Clearly there are many reasons to be outraged, with the fact that there is a political stalemate being one of them. Those of us imprisoned in Lledoners have several reasons of our own, and we’d like to think we have more reasons to be annoyed than those on the outside who appear even more outraged. Indeed, if spending one night in prison were a reason to be annoyed, we have more than 350 reasons. We are personally suffering as a result of the injustices of a government that, by wading in the filth of its own sewers, has fabricated a criminal case against us and the rest of those who will stand trial alongside us.
Nonetheless, none of these reasons justifies a violent response. Just as the police were not justified in using violence during the 1 October referendum, when over 900 men and women of all ages and backgrounds were injured, those in favour of a ‘yes’ vote and those in favour of a ‘no'. So much pain and contained rage, but no civil unrest and not even a hint of violence. For this reason alone, the Spanish state was roundly defeated by Catalan society on 1 October.
We unequivocally call on all possibility of riots or violence on our streets to be categorically ruled out. An extremely intense period lies ahead of us. The 16 October marks the first anniversary of our imprisonment, on 27 October we will celebrate the anniversary of the declaration of independence, followed shortly after by the arrest and exile of our legitimate government. We shall soon be informed of what penalty the public prosecutor is calling for at the start of our trial.
As many people as possible have to take to the streets, to continue denouncing the violations of rights and freedoms by the Spanish state. But we have to continue in the same way we have done so up to now, freely and without fear of being involved in civil unrest and violence. Such acts are unjustifiable and won’t benefit us in any way. It goes without saying that we demand an immediate investigation into the use of force by the police and, where necessary, that any members of the security forces who engaged in an excessive or disproportionate use of force be sanctioned or brought before a court of law. We must have zero tolerance for violence, whoever it is perpetrated by.
Our image, which gives us strength, is that of the thousands of men and women standing peacefully, barefaced and their hands in the air, facing up to the Guardia Civil and resisting their violence, showing them up for all the world to see. The faces that hide behind a bandana do not represent the conviction, dignity and strength of the people that made the 1 October referendum possible. We have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear. This is what civil disobedience is all about: fearlessly accepting one’s own actions and resisting with dignity the lies and humiliations of the state.
I would modestly like to offer my imprisonment as evidence. We can justify everything we have done without hiding our faces in shame, we accept what we did with pride. With this same pride, we denounce the Spanish state and the repression it inflicts upon us, we expose its lies and demand that it makes amends in favour of liberty and democracy. With this denunciation, we stand ready to accuse the state, which is why we are already winning.