‘I’m ready to organize a hunger strike in the European Parliament’
CATALAN NEWS AGENCY – President of EFA group Josep Maria Terricabras says Catalans will react in a “peaceful but forceful way” if denied a referendum
Philosopher Josep Maria Terricabras is, at 71, the oldest Catalan MEP. But he says he is ready to organize a hunger strike in front of the European Parliament in Brussels if Spain “aggressively” impedes the October 1 independence referendum. “People would react, because there are hundreds of thousands, probably millions, that want to vote, even to vote ‘no’. Not letting people vote would be an aggression, people would take to the streets, occupy places, of course, and I would support this,” he said in an interview with Catalan News.
“I’m ready to organize a hunger strike in the European Parliament, if necessary,” he confirmed. A hunger strike is an unprecedented move by an elected member of the European chamber that could cause trouble in Brussels, where the issue of Catalan independence is being framed by EU officials as an “internal affair” of Spain. And Terricabras thinks he would not be “the only one” protesting.
Terricabras, who entered politics in the 2014 European election, has always been in favor of an independent Catalonia, and is convinced that a referendum is “the only civilized way” to resolve the issue. The Catalan MEP warns Spain against using police to stop the opening of polling stations on October 1. “Today, everyone has a mobile phone. If there are 300 people around a ballot box and three or four police officers trying to take it away, those pictures will be sent all around the world,” he said.
But Spain has other ways to stop the vote. In the past few days, Spanish Guardia Civil officers have questioned several high-ranking officials in the Catalan Government and even the president of the National Pact for the Referendum, a civil society group that collected signatures in favor of solving the conflict between Catalonia and Spain with a referendum agreed by both parties. More than 400 elected officials in the country are being investigated.
“I don’t think people would run scared,” said Terricabras. The Catalan MEP admitted that some civil servants or elected politicians targeted by the Spanish judiciary for organizing the independence vote might feel “threatened” but not citizens, who he urged to turn out “en masse” on October 1. “People see that Spain is behaving desperately, in an absolutely messy and even criminal way,” he said. According to Terricabras, the prosecution of the Catalan Parliament president, Carme Forcadell, for allowing a debate and a vote on the roadmap towards independence is “incomprehensible”.
“When it comes to the defense of fundamental human rights, of the capacity of deciding your life and future, we have to use all peaceful means (…) without using any aggression, we will have to react in a very positive but clear and forceful way,” said Terricabras.
The MEP is convinced the international community will react if Catalans send a strong message on October 1 after a “smooth” referendum. “If we say to the international community that we want a peaceful divorce from Spain, it will be a turning point, and we will have to start negotiations to implement it,” he stated. Terricabras hopes the referendum will be held without any complications so his threat to start a hunger strike can stay just that, a threat.
“It is very important to have a peaceful turnout, with international observers. If everything runs smoothly, it will be a normal referendum, regardless of who is calling it, the Catalan government or the Spanish government. It will be a referendum,” he insisted.