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Jordi Sànchez i Picanyol (born 1 October 1964, Barcelona) is a Spanish political activist from Catalonia, who was president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) between May 2015 and November 2017.[1][2]

Jordi Sànchez i Picanyol
Jordi Sánchez (cropped).jpg
Jordi Sànchez in 2017
President of the Catalan National Assembly
In office
2015–2017
Preceded byCarme Forcadell
Succeeded byElisenda Paluzie
Member of the Parliament of Catalonia
for the Province of Barcelona
In office
17 January 2018 – 10 July 2018 (suspended)
Personal details
Born (1964-10-01) 1 October 1964 (age 54)
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
NationalitySpanish
Alma materAutonomous University of Barcelona
OccupationPolitical activist
Known forPresident of the Catalan National Assembly

He was imprisoned in October 2017, accused of sedition in connection with the Catalan independence referendum.[3] In March 2018, following the Catalan regional election in December, he was proposed as candidate for president by the leading pro-independence Junts per Catalunya party, led by the former president Carles Puigdemont, who was in Belgium.[4] On July 10, 2018 a Supreme Court judge suspended him as a deputy in the Catalan parliament.[5]

During December 2018 he went on a hunger strike in protest against his imprisonment and treatment.[6]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

In 1991, he received a degree in Political Science from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. A part-time instructor at the University of Barcelona, he has also taught at other universities.[7][8]

He was the leader and spokesperson, with Àngel Colom, of the Crida a la Solidaritat (Call for Solidarity)[1] from 1983 until its dissolution in June 1993. Linked for many years to Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds, between 1996 and 2004 he was a board member of the Catalan Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 1996 he was named assistant director of the Jaume Bofill Foundation, and then its director in 2001. He left the foundation in 2010 to take on a position as aide to the Ombudsman of Catalonia, Rafael Ribó, ex-leader of the ICV eco-socialists.[9]

In addition to contributing periodically as an analyst of social and political issues in various media, between 2004 and 2006 he coordinated the creation of one of the five areas of the Pacte Nacional per l'Educació (National Education Accord), specifically the one that laid out the foundations for a public education system. In 2008, he was the coordinator of one of the four areas of the Pacte Nacional per a la Immigració (National Immigration Accord), in particular the part that addressed the need to adapt social services.[10]

Catalan National AssemblyEdit

On 16 May 2015, Jordi Sànchez took over the presidency of the ANC from Carme Forcadell, after having been elected by a broad majority of the members of the group's National Board, meeting in Sant Vicenç Hall in the castle at Cardona despite the fact that the candidate who received the most votes from the organization's members was the US-born publisher and writer, Liz Castro.[1] Nevertheless, Sànchez was considered a consensus candidate, and had been supported by the outgoing Executive board.[1]

ImprisonmentEdit

On 16 October 2017, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart were preventively jailed after the state attorney's accusation of sedition, a felony regulated by the article 544 and subsequents of the Spanish Criminal Code.[3][11][12]

This sedition was allegedly committed when they organized a protest on 20 September 2017 during Operation Anubis police raids to dismantle the framework of the 1 October Catalan independence referendum performed by the Spanish Civil Guard.[13][14][15][16] They were accused of leading the protest of tens of thousands of people in front of the Catalan economy department heeding a call made by Òmnium Cultural and ANC.[3] The investigating judge stated that the leaders did not call for "peaceful demonstration but to the protection of Catalan officials through 'massive citizens' mobilisations", even though Sànchez and Cuixart made several public calls asking for "peaceful" and "civic" protests in social networks, in a public statement in front of the media at noon and in a speech in front of the demonstrators in the evening.[17][18][19][20] According to the judge, Sànchez encouraged the demonstrators with expressions such as "no one goes home, it will be a long and intense night", on top of a police vehicle.[21][22][23] But footage from that night contradicts that and shows Sànchez and Cuixart calling off the protests on top of the car at 11pm: "We are asking you, to the extent possible and in a peaceful way, to dissolve today's gathering".[22][24][25][26][18] After those calls, most demonstrators left the place and only a few hundred remainded. Those were dispersed by crowd-controls units of the autonomous police force of Catalonia, Mossos d'Esquadra.[18] Mossos recognized that there was a risk situation and denounced Spanish Civil Guard didn't notify them in advance of the registries, making it impossible to prepare a police operation to keep demonstrators far from the building.[27][23][28]

A sentence of sedition can carry up to 15 years in prison.[29][30] In July 2018, Sànchez was transferred to a prison in Catalonia.[31] Between December 1 and December 20, 2018, he started a hunger strike in order to 'raise awareness' of unfair treatment by Spain and to denounce Spanish courts' refusal to process numerous appeals in relation to their cases.[32][33] On February 1st, 2019, he was transferred back to a prison in Madrid, expecting trial will start on February the 12th.[34]

ReactionsEdit

After his detention, activists launched a “yellow-ribbon” campaign in support of Jordi Sànchez and other Catalan activists and leaders who are being prosecuted by Spanish justice.[35]

Catalan ex-President Carles Puigdemont and the European Free Alliance referred to Sànchez and Cuixart as "political prisoners".[36][37] The Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catalá argued that they were not "political prisoners" but "imprisoned politicians".[38]

Amnesty International issued an official statement considering the charge of sedition and the preventive imprisonment "excessive" and called for their immediate release.

Amnesty International calls on Spanish authorities to drop the charges of sedition and to put an immediate end to their pre-trial detention.

— Amnesty International

Amnesty International does not consider them "prisoners of conscience". Amnesty International avoids the term "political prisoners" because there is no generally accepted definition of the term in international law and because generally speaking the term has many different meanings and interpretations. The term "political prisoners" is only used sporadically by the organisation as a descriptive term in specific cases with a strong political context. Amnesty explicitly avoids the term in cases where it might be confused with the term "prisoner of conscience". The organisation says the two terms should not be confused.[39][40][41]

On 19 October, 200,000 people with candles gathered in Avinguda Diagonal, Barcelona and on 21 October, 450,000 joined in Passeig de Gràcia to protest against their imprisonment.[42][43]

Another demonstration took place on 11 November, after the imprisonment of some members of the Catalan government, and congregated 750,000 people according to the local police.[44][45][46]

On 7 March 2018, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded Spanish authorities that "pre-trial detention should be considered a measure of last resort" referring to Catalan politicians and activists arrested after the independence referendum.[47] And on 23 March it reminded "Under rule 92 of the Committee's rules of procedure, the State party has also been requested to take all necessary measures to ensure that Mr. Jordi Sánchez I Picanyol can exercise his political rights in compliance with article 25 of the Covenant.".[48]

On 8 August 2018, PEN International made another statement asking Spanish authorities to release Cuixart and Sànchez and considered their detentions to be "an excessive and disproportionate restriction on their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly".[49][50]

The World Organisation Against Torture sent an open letter to the President of the Government of Spain Pedro Sánchez as well as the Spanish Attorney General and Spanish Ombudsman on 22 November 2018 demanding the end of the "arbitrary pre-trial detention and judicial harassment of Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart" and concluded "OMCT considers that the charges against them are unfounded and must therefore be dropped."[51] In December 2018, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers issued a statement requesting the release of 'Catalan political prisoners'.[52]

The day before the beginning of the trial, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization expressed their support to "those Catalonian activists being trialled" and added "perhaps one of the biggest deficit of justice and deliberate confusion between law and justice, is seen in Catalonia.".[53] On the same day, the European Democratic Lawyers association requested the "immediate" release of the Catalan leaders and expressed their "concern" because of the "lack of procedural guarantees during the trial".[54]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Maiol, Roger. "Jordi Sànchez, nuevo presidente de la ANC" (in Spanish). Barcelona: El País. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  2. ^ Moldes, Aleix (16 November 2017). "Sànchez deixa l'ANC per ser el 2 de Puigdemont". Diari Ara (in Catalan). Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "The "Jordis" are not political prisoners – here's why". El País. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  4. ^ "From Exile, Puigdemont Abandons Pursuit Of Catalonian Presidency". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  5. ^ Llarena cierra el sumario del ‘procés’ y suspende como diputados a Puigdemont y Junqueras Published by El País, July 10, 2018, retrieved July 10, 2018
  6. ^ Bathgate, Rachel. "Jailed Catalan leaders end hunger strike". www.catalannews.com. Retrieved 2019-02-03.
  7. ^ "Jordi Sànchez i Maria Jesús Larios, nous adjunts al Síndic". Síndic de Greuges (in Catalan). Catalonia's Ombudsman. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  8. ^ "ANC Press Release (22 June)". Assemblea Nacional Catalana. 22 June 2015. Retrieved July 19, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Qui és Jordi Sànchez, nou president de l'ANC". 324.cat. 325.cat. 16 May 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Jordi Sánchez releva a Carme Forcadell al frente de la ANC". Agencia EFE. 16 May 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  11. ^ "¿Qué es el delito de sedición? Así lo regula el Código Penal" (in Spanish). El Periódico. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Ley Orgánica 10/1995, de 23 de noviembre, del Código Penal" (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 October 2017. Article 544. Seditionists are those who, without being included in the crime of rebellion, rise publicly and tumultually to prevent, by force or outside legal channels, the application of the Laws or any authority, official corporation or public official, the legitimate exercise of their functions or compliance with their agreements, or administrative or judicial decisions. Article 545. 1. Those who have induced, sustained or directed the sedition or appear in it as its principal authors, shall be punished with imprisonment from eight to ten years, and from ten to fifteen years, if they were persons constituted in authority. In both cases, absolute disqualification will also be imposed for the same time.
  13. ^ Fotheringham, Alasdair (16 October 2017). "Catalonia: Spanish judge jails two independence leaders for possible sedition". The Independent. An ongoing legal investigation claims Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leader of the ANC movement, and Mr Cuixart, who heads the Omnium Cultural association, were heavily involved in organising a massive protest aimed at hindering a Guardia Civil investigation in Barcelona into the build-up for the 1 October illegal referendum.
  14. ^ "La Guardia Civil cercena el 1-O" (in Spanish). El Mundo. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
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  16. ^ "European Commission - Press release - Statement on the events in Catalonia". europa.eu. 2 October 2017.
  17. ^ Stone, Jon (20 September 2017). "Spanish police storm Catalan government buildings to stop independence referendum". Independent. Europe correspondent. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
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  19. ^ Orriols, Núria; Pruna, Gerard (20 September 2017). "Les entitats criden a mobilitzar-se a Gran Via amb rambla de Catalunya en defensa de l'autogovern". Ara (in Catalan). Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  20. ^ "VÍDEO «Són l'enemic del poble»: així va cridar Cuixart a aïllar els violents el 20-S". Nació Digital (in Catalan). 26 February 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Los 'Jordis' a prisión por "alentar a la masa" contra la Guardia Civil el 20-S" (in Spanish). El Español. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  22. ^ a b "Un vídeo muestra cómo Cuixart y Sànchez intentaron disolver la manifestación de Economia". La Vanguardia. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  23. ^ a b Roures, Jaume (11 July 2018). 20-S (Television production). Mediapro. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  24. ^ Campbell, Matthew (21 October 2018). "I'll serve life in jail if I must, vows Catalan 'martyr', Jordi Cuixart". The Times. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  25. ^ "Els vídeos de Sànchez i Cuixart el 20-S contra els arguments per empresonar-los". 3/24 (in Catalan). 17 October 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  26. ^ Puig, Xavier (21 September 2017). "L'independentisme planta cara a l'Estat en defensa de l'1-O". El Temps (in Catalan). Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  27. ^ "Mossos reconocen que el 20-S hubo riesgo y por ello la secretaria judicial salió por azotea". Europa Press (in Spanish). 27 February 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  28. ^ "Transcripció de la declaració de Josep Lluís Trapero a l'Audiència Nacional". Diari Ara (in Catalan). 18 October 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  29. ^ Strange, Hannah (16 October 2017). "Two Catalan independence leaders taken into custody by Spanish national court". The Telegraph. Barcelona. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  30. ^ Powell, Tom (16 October 2017). "Spanish judge jails two Catalan separatist leaders during sedition investigation". Evening Standard. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  31. ^ "Seis de los presos catalanes ingresan en las cárceles de Lledoners y Puig de les Basses". La Vanguardia. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
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  33. ^ "Two jailed Catalan separatist leaders begin hunger strike". Al-Jazeera. December 1, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  34. ^ Congostrina, Alfonso L. (2019-02-01). "Catalan independence leaders moved to Madrid jails ahead of trial". El País. ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  35. ^ Editorial (2017-12-03). "The Guardian view on the Catalonia election: the challenge of compromise | Editorial". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  36. ^ ""We have political prisoners again," says Catalan president". CatalanNews. Retrieved 2017-10-17.
  37. ^ "EU's latest political prisoners". European Free Alliance. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  38. ^ "Political Prisoner or Jailed Politician? It's Catalans' Spin Battle With Spain". 18 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  39. ^ "Spain: charges for sedition and pre-trial detention against Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez are excessive". Amnesty International. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  40. ^ "Amnistía no ve como presos políticos a los dirigentes catalanes detenidos". El Mundo. 8 November 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  41. ^ "Spanje: recente ontwikkelingen in Catalonië". Amnesty International. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  42. ^ "200.000 persones, segons la Guàrdia Urbana, omplen d'espelmes la Diagonal contra l'empresonament de Sànchez i Cuixart". VilaWeb (in Catalan). 2017-10-24. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  43. ^ "Barcelona crida per la llibertat dels presos i de les institucions". Ara.cat (in Catalan). Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  44. ^ "Unos 750.000 manifestantes en Barcelona según la Guardia Urbana". eldia.es (in Spanish). 2017-11-11. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
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  48. ^ "L'ONU insta l'estat espanyol a garantir els drets polítics de Jordi Sànchez". CCMA (in Catalan). 2018-03-25. Retrieved 2018-03-25.
  49. ^ "Statement following PEN International's visit to imprisoned Catalan civil society leaders". PEN International. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  50. ^ "El PEN Internacional diu que l'empresonament de Cuixart i Sánchez és "excessiu"". El Món (in Catalan). 9 August 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
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  53. ^ "UNPO Celebrates its 28th Anniversary". UNPO. 11 February 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  54. ^ "L'associació Advocats Europeus Demòcrates demana l'alliberament immediat dels presos polítics". Diari Ara (in Catalan). 11 February 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.