Students protest in Catalonia to mark independence vote anniversary
At least 50,000 students took part in the demonstration, according to organizers, although local police put that figure at around 13,000
Thousands of university students clad in pro-independence symbolism protested on the streets here on Monday to mark the one year anniversary of a secessionist referendum in Catalonia region that was ruled illegal by Spain's judiciary.
The action by student groups in favour of Catalan independence from Spain coincided with similar demonstrations across Catalonia organized by the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), a network of civic groups set up in a bid to uphold the legitimacy of the 2017 ballot and the creation of a Catalan Republic.
At least 50,000 students took part in the demonstration, according to organizers, although local police put that figure at around 13,000. The choice slogan for Monday's protest was: "Not forgotten, not forgiven", Efe news reported.
Spokespersons for student organizations said the protest was called to urge an end to "repression" from Spain and to respect the result of the 2017 vote.
An overwhelming 92 per cent of those who took part voted to leave but many pro-union supporters boycotted the ballot because they did not acknowledge its validity.
On October 1, 2017, the regional Catalan government under Carles Puigdemont unilaterally staged its own independence referendum despite warnings from the Spanish government led by the then Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that it was illegal and would not be recognized.
The government triggered a constitutional mechanism to strip back Catalan autonomy, dissolve the regional government and halt proceedings in the regional parliament.
The legal action quickly ensued as several alleged independence leaders, including Puigdemont and his former deputy Oriol Junqueras, were placed under investigation ahead of possible charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
Junqueras and several others, including the former regional Interior Minister, remained in detention pending trial almost one year later. Puigdemont, on the other hand, was in self-exile in Belgium.
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