Violence against Catalan voters: what we know so far

The referendum on Catalonia’s independence, held despite a ban by Madrid, has been marred by violence involving police

  • The Catalan health ministry says at least 700 people have been injured during voting, and attempts to vote, in the referendum on the region’s independence. The two most seriously injured are in hospitals in Barcelona, the Catalonian capital.
  • At least 10 police officers are said to have been injured.
  • Carles Puigdemont, the region’s president, has said Catalonia has “earned the right to [be] an independent state” following the day’s events.
  • Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy said in a televised address: “Today there has not been a self-determination referendum in Catalonia. The rule of law remains in force with all its strength.”
  • Although advocates of the vote stressed the right to political self-determination, the vote was banned by Spain’s constitutional court and millions of ballot papers were confiscated before the vote.
  • The Spanish interior ministry said 336 voting centres, out of more than 2,000 across the region, had been closed by local and national police.
  • Videos show police hitting people in the crowd with batons while voters hold up their hands, police dragging voters from polling stations by their hair and Spanish police attacking Catalan firefighters.
  • Polls have shown 70% of Catalans want to be able to vote in a referendum but they are more evenly divided when it comes to independence.
  • There have been several calls by Catalan politicians and opposition MPs for the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, to resign over the hardline police response.
  • Human Rights Watch has released a statement calling on Spanish authorities to respect their citizens’ right to peaceful assembly and refrain from using excessive force.
  • The Labour party has condemned the police violence. Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, said: “It is unacceptable for the Spanish authorities to overreact to today’s events through aggressive police action and the forcible closure of polling stations.”
  • Guy Verhofstadt made the first condemnation by a senior EU politician, saying: “I don’t want to interfere in the domestic issues of Spain but I absolutely condemn what happened today in Catalonia.”

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