On Saturday night I wrote of my nerves for and emotional investment in the Catalan Referendum.
Waking Sunday morning to see the Spanish Guardia Civil acts against people who were going to vote was horrifying. These weren’t protesters or activists they were the general public doing what so many of us take for granted.
I’m not adding pictures of the injured to this post because I expect you’ve all seen them.
It wasn’t clashes; it was men in riot gear attacking unarmed people. Spain has 3 types of police, the Guardia Civil, the Policia Nacional and the Policia Municipal.
These involved yesterday aren’t the same as we see in Police Scotland, this force may fall under the Ministry of the Interior but it is set up on a military basis under the command of a lieutenant general and historically has been used to combat “sedition.”
These men brutalised civilians, assaulting people and using rubber bullets which have been banned in Catalonia since 2014. These were not the actions of police solely trying to remove ballot boxes, this were thugs attacking anyone in their way, yes and no voters alike.
Imagine my disappointment and anger at the pathetic response from our Foreign Office.
The referendum is a matter for the Spanish government and people. We want to see Spanish law and the Spanish constitution respected and the rule of law upheld.
Can you imagine them coming out with that if it was an oil-producing middle eastern country?
And then Europe – apart from the Belgium Prime Minister – what a disappointment they have been.
Now I don’t expect them to march in and physically tackle the police, however there should have been diplomatic words with the Spanish government before this vote took place over citizens’ rights, followed up with stronger initial condemnation.
Guy Verhofstadt mentions disproportional force but says “There needs to be a negotiated solution” – well what happens when one side won’t talk?
I know the EU is not an all-powerful overseer but the wheels grind very slow at times and this is one of them.
Where is the line drawn? If beatings and plastic bullets shot at civilians are classed as internal matters what else is? There are some governments in the EU that may see how much further they can push it.
No doubt I will dither over this as much as I did in the run up to the EURef, we shall what Wednesday’s debate in the EU brings. As much as the thought of being out of the EU in a Tory run UK appalls me I can’t say that today I’m comfortable with the idea of a future Indy Scotland being in.
Governments at all levels should primarily care for their citizens and as the case with Greece this is debit against the good the EU has done.
The history of social justice has meant pushing at what was seen to be legal at the time. Being gay was illegal in this country (and still is in many others), women weren’t allowed the vote, further back neither were the majority of men. Trade unions haven’t always been legal.
The flip side of that argument is also to point out that some of the worst dictators rarely break the laws mainly because it is they who write them.