It has never been like that: not in Barcelona, Tarragona or Girona, tens of thousands of Catalans, but in the middle of Spain's capital, Madrid. The occasion was the trial of separatist leaders.
For the first time, tens of thousands of supporters of Catalan independence have demonstrated in Madrid against the trial of twelve separatist leaders. In the Spanish capital, the defendants – former leaders and activists in the conflict region – have been accountable to the Supreme Court since mid-February. Among other things, they are accused of rebellion and rebellion.
The demonstration was under the motto: "Self-determination is not a crime". Time and again people chanted the words "freedom for political prisoners!". The central boulevard Paseo del Prado was completely bathed in the yellow-red-blue colors of the "Estelada", the flag of the Catalan independence movement – an unknown photo in Madrid. Many held up huge yellow arches, the symbol of solidarity with the prisoners.
Hundreds of buses from Catalonia to the capital
The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and about 50 other associations and parties had called for the mass demonstration. To bring the participants to the capital, according to a report from the newspaper "El País" 500 buses were chartered, and 15 special trains were also in use. The demonstration was led by Catalan regional president Quim Torra and numerous mayors from the region. "Spain, hear this call for freedom, this call for independence!", Said Torra.
The relationship between Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's government and the region of northeastern Spain remains tense. The twelve suspects are facing lengthy prison sentences as part of the illegally organized independence referendum in October 2017. The controversial process has been broadcast live on Spanish television for weeks to ensure maximum transparency.
Former regional head Carles Puigdemont, who fled the law in exile in Belgium, is not affected by the case. He tweeted in the evening, the success of the demonstration touched him deeply: "With Esteladas, on the street and in a happy atmosphere." Thank you. "