PRESS RELEASE: Catalans and their supporters protest in New York City

Protesters read messages from Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan President exiled in Belgium, and other political and cultural figures  

Around one hundred fifty people protested in Washington Square Park this weekend to demand freedom for Catalan political prisoners and respect for civil, political, and human rights and freedom of expression in Catalonia.  

During the event, protesters read messages written for the occasion by a wide range of people affected by the repression of the Spanish Government. Among them, a message for New York from Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan President and Clara Ponsatí, Minister of Education,  exiled in Belgium. More messages came from novelists Colm Toibin and Quim Monzó and oncologist Manuel Esteller and Linguist Ross Perlin.

The protest was organized by the NY Coalition for Human Rights in Catalonia, a coalition of translators, journalists, lawyers, human right workers, and scientists who are deeply concerned about the current situation of repression in Catalonia.

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VIDEO: (Message from the Catalan President 00.06.25 Human tower 00.40.00)
Background and Manifesto

A message from the Most Honorable President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, to the NY Coalition for Human Rights in Catalonia:
I am writing this message in the company of the throngs of Catalans who have come to Brussels in support of their democratic freedoms. It is an inspiration for me, and for the members of our government who accompany me, to be surrounded by our fellow citizens, who have come here to manifest their desire to be heard by the international community and by the European institutions that represent them.
We are also heartened to know that in New York City a Coalition has formed devoted to bringing to an international audience and its global institutions—above all, to the United Nations—the perennial message of the great majority of Catalans:  the peaceful defense of the freedoms enshrined in the documents of every democracy, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the right of self-determination.
In Catalonia today, these freedoms are being violated. An atmosphere of intolerance for dialogue prevails. Dissent is muffled, and the leaders of civil society are imprisoned for their ideas. Disagreement is muzzled, and news is distorted, limited, or silenced. Even colors have been prohibited.

Americans, too, have confronted intolerance. In the midst of one of the moments of greatest peril for the American democracy, the dark days known as McCarthyism, President Harry Truman issued this terrible warning:
“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

[Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States, August 8, 1950]

We Catalans refuse to live in fear. This is why we fill the town squares of Catalonia, and form caravans for freedom to gather en masse in the heart of Europe. We choose to use the tools of democratic dissent, and call for peaceful dialogue with all the guarantees of a fully democratic society.

We know that the elections of December 21 are only the first enunciation of a long dialogue. And we are ready for it.

 Thank you to everyone here for your support for the hopes and desires of the Catalan people.

Message from the Catalan Minister of Education, Clara Ponsatí, exiled in Belgium

Over the last two months we Catalans have suffered great distress. And we have grown, because we have learned vividly that the adversary can do great harm, with their judges, courts, and prisons.

 But they cannot stop our determination to be free. We will never give in to their force; we will persist and we will not surrender despite the apparently overwhelming strength of the adversary. And we will be victorious, because no one can stop a people who have decided to be free.

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”


Message from left political party CUP (Albert Botran)

We want to greet you from the CUP, a party of the left that defends self-determination and the independence for Catalonia.

We call on all the left people and parties in the USA to support our cause  because it’s a popular movement to create a Republic. Our struggle is connected with the values ​​of anti-fascism, which triumphed in Europe and the world in 1945 but not un Spain because of the Francoist regime.
On the other hand, the Spanish state is being very permissive with fascist manifestations and aggressions. 

The extreme right has been the protagonist of a total of about 120 incidents since October 1st, most of which constitute a crime and have often included aggression.

 Last week, for example, some members of far-right parties concentrated at the gates of our headquarters.

 Fortunately, hundreds of people, who were not members of our organization, went to defend our headquarters and made this attempt impossible to frighten our cause.

The victory of the Catalan struggle to build our Republic is a victory for all the peoples around the world that defend democracy, human rights and antifascism.

Colm Toibin, Irish Novelist

Like many European citizens who believe in the rule of law and in the concept of peaceful negotiation and agreement, I am appalled by the images of coercion which have arisen from Madrid’s response to the peaceful use of democratic systems in Catalonia. Also, like people all over the world, I cannot understand why democratically elected Catalan politicians and leader of civil society are in prison. This will create only bitterness. It serves no useful purpose. I call on the Spanish government to release the prisoners now and to enter into meaningful negotiations with the elected government of Catalonia.


Message, writer Quim Monzó

Good morning.

I am 65 years old. It would be a lie to say that over the past four decades I had never imagined that one day I would once again have to witness a political panorama in Catalonia that resembled the finals decades of Francoism in all its horror. It would be a lie because the threat has always been hanging over our heads, and this was clear from day one. Now the farce is finally in full view. The members of the Catalan government are in prison or in exile. Citizens have been beaten by the Spanish police simply for wanting to vote. Ballot boxes were confiscated by the same police. Freedom of expression, at this point, is under surveillance.

In the 70’s, on NBC, during the first season of Saturday Night Live, Chevy Chase began every news segment with the phrase “Generalissimo Francisco Franco… is still dead.” Don’t be so sure, Mr. Chase.


Ross Perlin, Linguist/Anthropologist, Endangered Language Association, New York

I stand with the Catalan people in their struggle to defend and develop their language and culture!

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