Europe's silence on Catalonia risks EU credibility – Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands Northwest Matt Carthy has demanded that leaders of the EU institutions defend the democratic rights of the Catalan people.
In a video message of solidarity to Catalans in the lead-up to Sunday’s referendum on independence, Carthy said:
“The people of Catalonia must have the right to vote to choose their own future, and the EU needs to defend the Catalan people in exercising this right.
“The Spanish government has launched an extreme crackdown on freedom of expression and democratic rights. It’s no exaggeration to say these actions are reminiscent of dark eras of the past.
“And where is Europe, which claims to uphold values of democracy and free speech, while these attacks are taking place?
“When police forces storm government buildings to arrest Catalan government officials for organising a referendum, where is Europe?
“When the owner of a warehouse storing ballot papers is arrested, where is Europe?
“When 700 mayors are summoned and threatened with arrest for providing council spaces to be used as polling stations, where is Europe?
“When an EU member shuts down more than 140 websites for promoting the right to vote, where is Europe?
“When the organisers of peaceful demonstrations are charged with sedition, where is Europe?
“Totally and utterly silent. It is not good enough. This silence has the potential to destroy the EU's credibility.
“The Spanish government says all of these attacks are justified because the referendum is illegal.
"But our Spanish friends must be told what history has taught us - a people’s desire for freedom and independence cannot be quenched by repression. Democracy and self-determination cannot be criminalised.
"The Irish people are watching these developments closely and we will be expressing our full solidarity with the people of Catalonia this Sunday as they stand up to exercise their right to decide their future. Their fellow Europeans must stand by their side."