Referendum in Catalonia: ''It was hell!''
Now everyone knows the events in Barcelona due to the referendum on separation of Catalonia from Spain. Newsfeed told about the casualties interrupting each other on Sunday and Monday. Former Russian citizen and today's resident of Barcelona who was brought to this city as a kid Yana Elmanovich was a witness of the events in Barcelona. She shared her impressions in a column written for Realnoe Vremya.
''The people have been divested of the right to vote''
What happened in Barcelona came as a bolt from the blue. Nobody was ready for such a development of events. There was a referendum several years ago, everything was calm and peaceful, without incidents. People went, voted who was for and against, and everything calmed down. The referendum was not recognised official. It was a kind of people's voting then, nobody bothered anybody.
The event was unofficial. People went, everybody expressed their opinion. It was important, it was important to just express an opinion. Why were the people of Catalonia indignant this time? Is there another way? The people have been divested of the right to vote. Because there are different opinions, and one should not think that all the Catalans vote for separation from Spain. There is a big number of those who don't want to separate from Spain, in general.
The opinions are different, and now it is impossible to say for sure who are more – the supporters or opponents of the separation. The opinions differ. Neither the opponents nor supporters of the separation win anybody over, nobody is persuaded. But the events started to develop after some lull.
Spain behaved as if it had known nothing and notices nothing for a long time, there would not be any referendum because it was illegal. Everybody kept silent. The more the referendum day was closer, the higher tempers were running. Spain suddenly announced it would not allow people to vote. How come?
There was a referendum several years ago, everything was calm and peaceful, without incidents. People went, voted who was for and against, and everything calmed down
It made everybody indignant – both the supporters and opponents of the separation. We all have the right to vote. How can it happen in a democratic country? Is not there democracy in Spain?
''Even dogs were beaten''
The events in Barcelona on Sunday showed that there is no democracy in Spain. Here everything was done in an orderly manner. There was a list of polls, places where one could vote. Civilians went to these polls. They were usual citizens, not ultranationalists, not extremists. They were usual citizens who have the right to vote to say their 'yes' and 'no'. And I will repeat that the percentage of votes against the separation was very high first.
Ballots started to be confiscated from the polls. And people started to protect their votes. Somebody tried to shut the people's mouth with the confiscated ballots. An awful thing started to happen. People did not hector, they did not cry out anything, they were sitting and singing songs. And they started to be fired with rubber bullets.
Who fired? Every Spanish region has its own police, our Catalonian police were ordered to close the polls and not to allow people to vote. Our police did not obey and said it would just keep order. The police went to the polls, made sure there was an order there, completed reports and went.
But we were sent the national guard, In Russia, it is OMON — Special Purpose Mobility Unit, plus, the national police. They were to prevent the voting. Note, all the voting is both 'for' and 'against'. Probably, there were more opponents of the separation. But until Sunday. Even those people who were not going to vote went to the streets in the end. Why?
Our Catalonian police were ordered to close the polls and not to allow people to vote. Our police did not obey and said it would just keep order
Because it was a hell. The people who just wanted to sit at home saw that people were fired, people were beaten. What is more, old men, kids, even dogs that came with their owners were beaten, And probably even those who were against the separation understood they did not want to live in such a country.
When the mayor of Barcelona saw what was going on, she started to urge the head of the country to resign. The person who was afraid of who knows what and sent the national guard can't rule the country. One can't forbid people from expressing their opinion. The European Union is keeping silent to its shame as if nothing happened.
But, in fact, the first step has been made. Catalonia has separated, not legally. Legally, it is a long process. But morally, Catalonia is not with Spain. It is the first step towards independence. Figuratively speaking, Catalonia became a beaten wife who is trying to leave home but she is not allowed. She is beaten but not allowed to go. It is a strange situation.
The people went to protest near buildings of the national police on Monday, sent paper planes made of ballots and shouted: ''Cowards!''