Scores of demonstrators formed a ribbon of solidarity at the Sant Jaume Square, holding yellow glow sticks and turning on lights on their phones Thursday evening. Convened by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and the Omnium Cultural, the gathering was meant to show support for the region’s politicians taken into custody in Spain’s crackdown on the Catalan independence movement. Eight light globes floated above the crowd, symbolizing eight former members of the Catalan parliament sent to jail ahead of their trials on possible charges of sedition.
Many could be seen wearing yellow ribbons, which have been used as a symbol of the ANC and Omnium leaders, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart. Holding “Freedom for the political prisoners” banners and Catalan flags, the crowd listened to manifestos read out by the activists and relatives of those in prison. “They wanted to isolate us and they have united us more than ever,” Omnium spokesman Marcel Mauri said, quoting a letter sent by the incarcerated Cuixart.
The square buzzed with chants “Freedom for the political prisoners,” “We will win,” and “Our president is Puigdemont.”Removed by Madrid, the Catalan leader Carles Puidgemont is still in Belgium, where he fled along with four members of his cabinet. While a Belgian court is expected to consider Friday whether to extradite the sacked officials to Spain following a European arrest warrant, the axed leader remains determined. “We will win, we will succeed, finally democracy will prevail,” Puigdemont said in an interview on RT’s new show, hosted by former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.