24/06/2021

Freedom for prisoners is a victory

2 min
Outgoing inmates of Almeces

The existence of close to 3,000 people with pending legal proceedings related to the 1-O Catalan independence referendum or the subsequent mobilizations has made independence restrain itself when it comes to celebrating the release of the nine political prisoners. But there is no doubt that after almost four years the pardons can be considered a victory for the independence movement, since the gesture of Pedro Sánchez's government would not be understood without the perseverance in the protest mobilizations, without the electoral support received by the pro-independence parties and, of course, without the judicial victories in Europe and the pressure of international organizations such as the Council of Europe or NGOs such as Amnesty International. It is all these factors, added to the PSOE's arithmetical need for the support of ERC in Parliament (that is, once again the pro-independence votes), which explains why a Spanish government has dared to overrule the judiciary with a decision that, predictably, has further inflamed the right-wing.

Because the pardons are, in essence, a step that seeks to remove the Catalan conflict from the paws of justice and return it to politics, that is, to the negotiating table. There is a sentence in the report that justifies the pardon of Raül Romeva that is particularly significant in this sense: "Criminal punishment offers limited utility when it comes to pacifying situations of conflict such as the one Catalan society is experiencing, caused by the clash of political ideals". That is to say, the Spanish government admits that the Supreme Court's sentence did not help to resolve the conflict, on the contrary, what it did was to exacerbate and entrench it, and therefore the best thing to do was to leave its most visible consequence, prison sentences, without effect.

But as we said, the PSOE has not reached this conclusion quickly and on its own. The strength of the pro-independence movement has had to be proven on repeated occasions since the 1-O referendum, the indignation provoked by the sentence has had to be seen on the streets, and Europe has had to question the way in which the Spanish justice system has proceeded. The last straw had to be to see the Council of Europe put Spain in the same package as Turkey in a report on human rights. Does anyone think that this would have been achieved without this work of informal diplomacy that the pro-independence movement as a whole has been able to do so well? Does anyone believe that, without the certainty that independence would not disappear by imprisoning some of its leaders, Pedro Sánchez would have moved?

For all these reasons, it is incomprehensible that part of the pro-independence movement insists on being suspicious of pardons and questioning the integrity of the prisoners. The message that all of them launched this Wednesday, in favour of amnesty and self-determination, shows that none of them have given up their voice, their commitment or their convictions. That is why the Spanish right, the judiciary and in general the deep state are so outraged. And that is why independence must know that this is a victory.

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