Five Nobel Prize laureates such as Jody Williams, Mairead Corrigan, Shirin Ebadi, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, and Elfriede Jelinek), imprisoned human rights defenders such as Osman Kavala and Joshua Wong), three former UN rapporteurs and top political personalities such as Dilma Rousseff and Gerry Adams among the 50 world-renowned signatories of “Dialogue for Catalonia“, a manifesto that demands the end of repression in Catalonia, an amnesty for those prosecuted for defending the referendum and the Catalans’ right to decide their political future.
Other relevant signatories include former UN Special Rapporteurs such as Ben Emmerson (UK) and Michel Forst (France); politicians such as Ronald Kasrils (South Africa), former minister and an activist against apartheid; Milan Kucan, former president of Slovenia; Rémy Pagani, former mayor of Geneva (Switzerland); Jose Bové (France), trade unionist and former MEP; cultural public figures such as the singer Joan Baez (US), or writers like Irvine Welsh (Scotland) or Lana Bastasic (Bosnia). Clayborn Carson (US), director of the Martin Luther King Jr Institute or Ramin Jahanbegloo (Iran), director of the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Peace; have also supported the initiative.
Also, activists such as Mirta Baravalle (founder of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, in Argentina), Guy Standing (British professor and researcher, co-founder of the Basic Income Network), and Lorena Zárate (Argentine activist for the right to housing and President of Habitat International Coalition) have adhered to the text:
A majority of the people in Catalonia have repeatedly expressed their will to democratically exercise their right to decide their political future. As the precedents in Quebec and Scotland show, the best way to resolve political conflicts of this nature is to use the most basic tool democracy has to offer: voting.
However, the use of the judicial system to resolve a political crisis has only brought growing repression and no solution. On 14 October 2019, Spain’s Supreme Court convicted two civil society activists and seven political officials with prison sentences of between nine and 13 years, for a total of 100 years, which only further entrenches the conflict. The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) called for the immediate release of these prisoners and for all charges to be dropped last year, defending the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. The world’s leading human rights organisations have criticised the legal decisions and the many human rights violations that have taken place.
It is time for dialogue with a responsible approach from all sides. Therefore, the undersigned urge the Spanish government and its Catalan counterparts to enter into unconditional dialogue in order to find a political solution enabling the citizens of Catalonia to decide their political future. For dialogue to succeed, political repression must end, and there should be an amnesty for those prosecuted.