Catalonia’s Puigdemont among 450,000 in pro-independence rally in Barcelona
The Spanish government decided on Saturday to sack the secessionist leadership of Catalonia and force the region into a new election.world Updated: Oct 21, 2017 23:43 IST
Some 450,000 people took to the streets of Barcelona on Saturday, local police said, after Spain moved to dismiss Catalonia’s regional government to thwart its leaders’ independence bid.
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was among the huge crowds filling the streets around the Paseo de Gracia boulevard, with many chanting “independence” and “freedom”.
The demonstration was originally called to protest against the detention of two influential separatist activists, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, who are being held on sedition charges accused of instigating protests in the run-up to Catalonia’s banned independence referendum on October 1.
Catalans hold pro-independence rally in Barcelona as Spanish PM announces his government will suspend the regional government pic.twitter.com/ublvJRFbZ1— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 21, 2017
But Saturday’s move by Madrid to seize powers from the semi-autonomous region -- which could include taking control of its police force and replacing its public media chiefs -- was on the minds of many in the crowds.
“I feel totally outraged and extremely sad,” said Meritxell Agut, a 22-year-old bank worker.
“They’ve trampled on our rights and our ideas as Catalans,” she told AFP, adding: “They can destroy everything they want but we’ll keep on fighting.”