PRO-Catalan independence groups have said they will boycott King Felipe’s attendance at a commemoration of the Barcelona terror attacks next week, and will instead gather outside a prison to honor the deposed interior minister and former head of the region’s police force.
The remembrance will be held on Friday in Placa de Catalunya, close to the site of one the attacks on August 17 last year that resulted in more than a dozen deaths.
Felipe – an increasingly unpopular figure in Catalonia – indicated last week that he would attend what is planned as a simple ceremony for the victims and their families, despite President Quim Torra saying: “We did not invite him.”
Now Elisenda Paluzie, president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), has said that they and Omnium Cultural will gather at Lledoners prison as a mark of respect for Joaquim Forn, the jailed former minister, and Josep Lluis Trapero, who was the police chief who led the Mossos d’Esquadra in their response to the atrocity.
She told Catalan Radio that such an event “shows the special thanks to the bodies that acted”.
Paluzie said: “The Mossos brought the anti-terrorist operation and… the two people who were congratulated around the world, Forn and Trapero, now are accused of sedition.
“It is very serious and the minister of the interior is in jail. There must be a memory and a tribute to these people.
“Here are some central protagonists who are the families of the victims. It’s very hard and come here. And more so being foreigners, returning to the place where everything happened.
“That is what we must put at the centre of it all.”
Spanish courts are investigating more than 70 Mossos officers for their actions in the run-up to and during the referendum.
Trapero has been charged with sedition over an incident in September, when tensions between Barcelona and Madrid were rising, when officers from Spain’s military police the Guardia Civil faced thousands of protesters during a raid on the Catalan economy department.
A judge ordered him to deploy his force to allow the Spanish officers to exit the building, but he told his officers to be “careful about the use of force”.
The Guardia Civil were widely condemned for beating peaceful would-be voters with batons and firing rubber bullets at them as they tried to cast their votes on October 1.
However, Trapero had said his job was to protect the Catalan people and Mossos officers did what they could to shield the citizens from a Spanish onslaught.
Footage was widely circulated of people cheering and waving from behind lines of Mossos officers.
In her wide-ranging interview, Paluzie warned that this year’s Catalan National Day – La Diada on September 11 – would be “special and very different”
“It is the first time that it is done in a context of unprecedented political repression, with prisons and reprisals, and also after 1-O [October 1 referendum],” she said.
“The main objective will be to make sure that political repression has not achieved what he [former Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy] wanted, which is to abandon the political objectives of the pro-independence parties.
“It is not a rally for prisoners but for independence and the Catalan Republic.
“Catalonia is not a republic at this time.
“Independence was declared, there is an independence majority in the Parliament, but independence has not been made effective.
“Catalonia is a nation, it has the right to self-determination and we work to become a full republic.”
Paluzie said that following the referendum, there was now no clear strategy to make the republic a reality.
However, she revealed that the ANC and the Catalan government had started talks to consider how to change that.
“We are beginning to talk about weaving a strategy and analysis,” she said.
“From now on we must take action to re-set the common goal… to overcome obstacles and to resume a winning strategy.”
Paluzie stressed the peaceful nature of any moves, adding: “Non-violent disobedience and resistance is a way that many countries have followed in order to have independence.
“The state wants us to forget our political objective.”