Catalan Protest | Why Brussels?

Former Catalan President has fled to Brussels to seek a fair trial, and around 45,000 Catalans have travelled to Brussels to protest and support independence.

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The Catalan independence referendum which was declared illegal and rejected by the Spanish government. Thousands of Catalans turned out to vote, with 90% of those people backing independence.  

However, unlike the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, the one held in Catalonia was hugely violent. Police were forceful in their attempts to stop Catalan citizens voting – this led to hundreds of injuries. So it is clear why the Catalan independence referendum was and continues to be, highly contentious.  

But the story is far from over. Since then, the Catalonian parliament was dissolved, some Catalan officials were arrested while others, including former president Carles Puidgemont, fled to Brussels to seek a fair trial.   

More recently, though, around 45,000 Catalans travelled to Brussels to protest and to support independence for Catalonia. The Catalans gathered in the Schuman area of Brussels, where some European Union (EU) Institutions are based. They protested against the EU’s lack of support for Catalan independence and for backing the Spanish government on the issue. As Puidgemont is currently still in Brussels himself, the protesters turned up in support of him. 

Catalonian flags were clearly visible throughout Brussels - the protesters proudly wore their flags on their backs as they took the opportunity to see the city itself. While the protest itself was extremely peaceful, the Catalans went far in making their presence known.

This ongoing story is far from being over soon - it is difficult to tell what will happen to the prominent Catalan politicians in the aftermath of the violent referendum. And as for independence in the region, it seems fairly unlikely in the near future.  

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