I don’t know much about Catalunya. I’ve never been there; I have no friends from there. I’ve read, obviously, books coming out of the experience of the Spanish Civil War – George Orwell, Laurie Lee, and anarcho-syndicalist texts: Murray Bookchin, Robert Alexander and others. But that’s all a long time ago; and my interest was in political theory and in how you build a good society, not particularly in the place itself. I don’t know much about Catalunya.

But that is beside the point. The point, in Catalunya now, is the right of people in a place to define themselves as a community and a polis, and to achieve self determination for that polis. Chapter One, Article One of the Charter of the United Nations – which all members have signed up to – asserts the right to self determination. So does Article One of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Spain is also a signatory. It is a basic, fundamental right.

And it is a right we in Scotland claim. It is core to our Claim of Right. It is core to our right to choose whether we wish Scotland to become a nation again.

In Catalunya, at this moment, four people are in prison for peacefully asserting this right. They are:

Jordi Cuixart i Navarro is a civil society activist, not a politician. He leads a cultural organisation, Omnium Cultural, which promotes the Catalan language. He is, effectively, equivalent to the chair of An Comunn Gàidhealach. He’s accused of organising passive resistance to the attempts by the Guardia Civil – the Spanish national police – to destroy the infrastructure for the first of October referendum on Catalan independence.

His address in prison is:

Jordi Cuixart i Navarro
Centro Penitenciario
Madrid V
Ctra. M-609, km 3,5
28791 Soto del Real
Madrid, Spain

Jordi Sanchez Picanyol is President of the Assemblea Nacional Catalana, which might be seen as roughly equivalent to the Scottish Independence Convention; so again, although he is a political activist, he’s not a party politician. His closest Scottish equivalent might be Leslie Riddoch. Like Jordi Cuixart, he’s accused of organising passive resistance to the attempts by the Guardia Civil to destroy the infrastructure for the referendum.

His address in prison is:

Jordi Sànchez Picanyo
Centro Penitenciario
Madrid V
Ctra. M-609, km 3,5
28791 Soto del Real
Madrid, Spain

Oriel Junqueras i Vies is a historian by profession, but he’s an elected politician and serves as Vice-President of the Government of Catalonia; his nearest Scottish equivalent might be John Swinney. He leads the Republican Left party in the Catalan Parliament, and led the ‘Yes Coalition‘ campaign in the last parliamentary elections – so he’s also a bit like Blair Jenkins. He’s accused of  rebelliousness and sedition for responsibility for the unilateral declaration of Catalan independence.

His address in prison is:

Oriol Junqueras i Vies
Centro Penitenciario
Madrid VII
Ctra. M-241, km 5.750
28595 Estremera
Madrid, Spain

Joachim Forn Chiariello is a lawyer turned liberal politician. He leads the Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya party, and is Minister of the Interior in the Catalan Government. In Scottish terms he’s somewhere between Willie Rennie and Michael Matheson. He’s in prison largely because his ministry was responsible for the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan regional police (equivalent to Police Scotland) and for the Catalan firefighters, who together defended voters from the violence of the Guardia Civil on the first of October.

His address in prison is:

Joaquim Forn Chiariello
Centro Penitenciario
Madrid VII
Ctra. M-241, km 5.750
28595 Estremera
Madrid, Spain

So, four men. None of them revolutionaries. None of them have espoused violence. Each serving in roles which are quite familiar in Scotland. And each, imprisoned for doing so. 

If the Westminster Government sent the Metropolitan Police to smash up the baby boxes that the Scottish Government are distributing, wouldn’t you hope that someone in Scottish civil society – Jonathon Shafi, perhaps, or Lesley Riddoch – would organise a peaceful demonstration to prevent them?

If the Holyrood parliament votes to organise a second independence referendum, and, if that referendum returns a strong ‘Yes’ vote, votes again to declare Scotland independent, wouldn’t you hope that the Scottish Government would act on that mandate? 

Of course you would.

And let’s put to bed the claim that the referendum was ‘illegal’. The right to self determination is guaranteed by binding international agreements to which Spain is a voluntary signatory. Therefore it is legal in Spain to vote for self determination. Self determination cannot be legally protected if all the means to express self determination are forbidden. The referendum cannot have been illegal. As Spain claims that its national law trumps Catalunya’s regional law, so international law trumps Spain’s national law. 

I don’t know much about Catalunya. I don’t know whether Catalunya should be independent. That’s none of my business; it’s for the people of Catalunya to decide. But I do know this: if Scotland will not stand in solidarity with the Catalans, if we will not stand up to assert Catalunya’s right to self determination, why should anyone stand up for ours? 

Libertat Presos Politics. They aren’t just Catalunya’s political prisoners; they’re also ours.

You can order postcards showing Scotland’s solidarity with Catalunya here.