Tele column 12th October 2018

Recently, I had the great privilege of meeting some remarkable men. Jordi Cuixart, Jordi Sànchez and Raul Romeva were arrested and are awaiting trial for sedition. I visited them in Lledoners prison, Catalonia. They expect to be tried in January and they expect to be sentenced to between 25 and 30 years each. The crime of sedition is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as ‘language or behaviour that is intended to persuade other people to oppose their government’. By that definition anyone that has ever criticised the U.K. government or the Scottish government could be imprisoned, tried and sentenced. I suspect our already overcrowded prison system would fail to cope with the mass influx. And I seriously wonder if there would be any adult in Scotland that could not be tried for such a crime. These three brave men along with four others, Josep Rull, Jordi Turull, Joaquim Forn, Oriol Junqueras and two women, Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa have been wrongly imprisoned. While speaking up for the process of democracy, they did not use violence and they did not incite it. They helped to facilitate and ensure a peaceful democratic debate and referendum. The Spanish authorities may not have liked the message they were hearing but no people or property were threatened or damaged in any way. Jordi Cuixart explained to me that he was simply a citizen exercising his right to free speech. Jordi Cuixart is the president of Òmnium which is a cultural movement in Catalonia. He is not a politician. He is an incredibly brave, optimistic, intelligent and humble man. I asked him how he managed to stay so positive and he explained that he lived in the moment and tried to make each moment happy. He engaged with prison life and other prisoners. He refuses to be beaten by the system he opposes. That is an extremely powerful message. These men and woman deserve the support of the United Nations, the European Union and all right minded governments. History tells us what happens when we stand idly by and allow human rights to be trampled. We should all be raising our voices in protest at this injustice.

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