Horrific scenes are coming out of Barcelona, the Capital of Catalonia, which today is holding a referendum Spain has declared illegal as the Spanish constitution does not allow for secession.
Police has been sent in, with Madrid taking central control of Catalonia’s forces. They are tasked with taking all measures to stop the referendum. AFP reports riot police has fired rubber bullets.
The situation is tense in the region, with people taking to the streets to vote. Polls suggest some 80% of Catalans support a referendum on independence. They were split on whether to leave or remain, but it appears there has been a surge in favor of independence.
Catalans are not being allowed a peacful vote. Police has moved in to close polling stations, seizing ballot boxes, with violence erupting, but from what we can discern that violence is coming only from the police.
From what we can see, Catalonia’s independence movement has been peaceful, while the police is seen batooning citizens in an attempt to stop the vote.
Condemnation has come quick. Gary Lineker said: “Truly awful scenes in Catalonia. Disgusting.” Nicola Sturgeon said: “Regardless of views on independence, we should all condemn the scenes being witnessed.”
Mikko Kärnä, a Finish MP, went further, stating: “I urge EU-citizens to boycott spanish products until democratic solution is found in Catalonia.”
But the Catalan people appear undeterred. They are taking to the streets, headed to the polling stations, with masses of people facing police forces, sometime in riot gear, sometime in uniform.
And despite the violence coming primarily, if not solely, from the police, voting appears to actually be taking place, with some areas peaceful.
The Madrid authorities are doing all they can to prevent or hamper the vote, including shutting off the internet in some areas.
Technologists, who by far have no view on independence but support the right to a free vote on self-determination, have employed some of the latest technology, including IPFS, to keep the referendum website accessible.
The Spanish government has shut down the referendum website with ISPs at times ordered to take measures, but IPFS, being a distributed technology, allows anyone to access it as explained in some great technical depth.
It remains to be seen what happens from here, but this is the first time in living memory such draconian measures to prevent a free vote are taken in a democracy that is part of the European Union and is ruled by the European Convention on Human Rights.
With the very peaceful and civilized Scottish referendum standing in stark contrast to the scenes coming out from Catalonia, which we never thought we would see in a democracy.