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Catalonia, the future of Europe

«Europe is watching us, but not for the reasons that we would have liked to believe. They are watching sidelong to grasp whether it is possible to apply a random, selective, and bland-appearing repression without the population reacting energetically»

per Oriol de Balanzó, 18 de setembre de 2019 a les 16:25 |
[Podeu llegir aquí la versió en català de l'article]

"Catalonia has become the proving ground for repression in Western Europe"
. The phrase sweeps through the auditorium of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.  The room is filled with attendees for the talk organized by Foreign Friends of Catalonia, and the key speakers include the Turkish writer and activist, Can Dundar; the Italian attorney of Carola Rackete, Alessandro Gamberini; and the sociologist and criminologist, Rossella Selmini.

The event is cordial.  Languages and ideas mingle naturally and are distilled by Antoni Bassas, journalist of the precise word and the conducive silence, in the role of moderator.  Yet in this pleasant atmosphere, terrible things are being spoken.
Dundar states that even he, who has lived through a fearsome judicial process in Turkey that has taken him to prison and into exile, finds it absolutely shocking and incomprehensible that in the trial against the Catalan independence leaders, a political party (and no less, Vox) should have been permitted to act as a private Prosecutor.

Beyond these appraisals, I am struck by the first sentence that all the speakers employ.  In Catalonia, an important part of the rights and liberties of Western Europe is in play.  Not because we are special or chosen for any particular reason.  But because our circumstances have caused the eyes of Europe to turn this way to see how the Spanish government will act, and even more importantly, to see if in the heart of the 21st century, their recipe for the repression of dissidents works.  Just as it has fallen to Italy to be the proving ground at this stage for the arrival of immigrants.  So it goes.
This is key:  Europe is watching us, but not for the reasons that we would have liked to believe.  They are watching us sidelong to grasp whether it is possible to apply a random, selective, and bland-appearing repression without the population reacting energetically.  Europe is observing us because, in a period of rising populism and the loss of values and collective empathy, they wish to verify whether the citizenry is ripe to enter into a new phase of curtailed rights and the definitive demise of the benevolent State.  The hand is at our throats, and they want to see how much oxygen we need to survive.
Thus, at this point and regardless of the sentence of the Supreme Court, we must not just ask ourselves if this is an injustice. Even more so, we must ask ourselves what we are willing to do to make this understood:  No, not that way, we will not go down that road here. Not here or anywhere else.

Because this is not just a sentence.  It is the new waterline.  If we accept that, in order to exercise the right to the freedom of expression, the right of assembly, the right of political participation, of freedom of belief and application of political ideals, we can end up in prison—we are lost.
The sentence will be applied to a few but will directed at all of us.  And this is the moment to ask ourselves what we are willing to sacrifice to defend those rights.  Not only our future, but that of our fellow European citizens, is at stake.  Whether they see it or not.
It’s our turn. Let’s rise to the responsibility. The question is: Are we ready?


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Oriol de Balanzó
Oriol de Balanzó, guionista llicenciat en comunicació audiovisual. És sotsdirector de la Competència de RAC1. És activista en pro de la República catalana i està sempre En Peu de Pau. Ha treballat de divulgador cultural, productor musical, venent llibres, de cambrer (qui no?), va ser cap de producció de la sala la Paloma i ha venut roba en una botiga de París (sent daltònic). El podeu seguir a Twitter a @orioldebalanzo.

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