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October 15, 2018
Catalan protests: Rallies mark one year since independence vote
World News

Catalan protests: Rallies mark one year since independence vote


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Media captionWhat happened to Catalonia? One year on

Hundreds of people have gathered across cities and towns in Catalonia to mark the one-year anniversary of the contested referendum on independence.

Pro-independence protesters obstructed major roads south of Barcelona and a high-speed railway line in Girona.

Activists blocked streets in Lleida, while students filled Barcelona’s central square waving separatist flags.

Catalonia held the vote on 1 October 2017 and its separatist government declared independence on 27 October.

But Spain’s constitutional court deemed the referendum illegal and Madrid imposed direct rule.

At the time, there were ugly scenes on the streets as Spanish police tried to prevent people from going to the polls.

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Getty Images

The anniversary protests were organised by the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs), who are demanding a clean break with the Spanish state.

‘Putting on the pressure’

In June, Spain ended its temporary direct rule over the region, as a new nationalist-led government was sworn in there, headed up by Quim Torra.

Speaking at a ceremony at Sant Julia de Ramis, northern Catalonia, Mr Torra praised activists for “putting on the pressure”.

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Reuters

Mr Torra succeeded Carles Puigdemont, who fled into exile in Belgium after the failed independence bid.

The AFP news agency reports that 500 people marched through Barcelona, setting off firecrackers and chanting “We voted and we won”. Some called for Mr Torra to step down for not pushing hard enough for independence.

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who is Catalan, said it was up to Mr Torra and the Catalan regional government to maintain public order.

“We will continue to try to lower tensions…and demand that everyone assume their responsibilities,” he told reporters in Madrid.

An opinion poll in July suggested 46.7% of Catalans favoured independence and 44.9% opposed it.

Spain’s supreme court has withdrawn its European Arrest Warrants against former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and five of his aides who remain abroad.

But the charges against them remain, meaning they still face arrest if they return to Spain.



Source BBC News

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