started this petition to
U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
For some time now, Catalan President Quim Torra has been displaying a sign outside the Catalan government building that reads “Free Political Prisoners and Exiles,” and bears a yellow ribbon, the symbol of support for Catalan political prisoners. Spain’s Electoral Commission ordered him to remove the yellow ribbon. So he did — by putting up the same sign, but with a white ribbon instead. The Electoral Commission said it would bring charges of disobedience against Torra, which could lead to his dismissal from office — and that would make him the second pro-independence Catalan president removed by Madrid in the space of two years. Torra then withdrew the white-ribbon sign and replaced it with one reading “Freedom of Expression,” but that didn’t stop Spain either. The Commission ordered Catalan police to remove any signs related to the political prisoners from government property. Just yesterday, the Spanish attorney general threatened a lawsuit. To sum up: in the middle of a show trial against non-violent Catalan leaders whose only “crime” was to organize a vote, an arm of the Spanish state is trying to stifle the voices of other Catalan leaders who are calling out the injustice of it all.
While Spain has progressed since the Francoist dictatorship, the state is clearly acting in a repressive, authoritarian way when it comes to the Catalan question. Even if one doesn’t support full Catalan independence, Spain’s actions merit a response from international observers. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs should consider a resolution supporting the democratic right to self-determination of the Catalan people, and opposing Spain's heavy-handed reaction to peaceful dissent.