THOUSANDS of people began marching in Barcelona on Sunday to protest the jailing of nine Catalan separatist leaders facing trial on “rebellion” charges.
Many chanted “Freedom for the political prisoners” as they massed on the Parallel Avenue, one of the city’s main streets, wearing yellow scarves, sweaters or jackets – the colour chosen to show solidarity with the jailed leaders.
The march was called by a platform set up in March to “defend Catalan institutions” and “the rights and fundamental freedoms” of its citizens.
The protest was backed by the Catalan branches of Spain’s two largest trade unions, the CCOO and the UGT, sparking unease among union members who oppose independence for the wealthy northeastern region.
“There have been tensions (among unions members) just like in the rest of the Catalan society,” the secretary general of the Catalan branch of UGT, Camil Ros, told AFP on Saturday on the eve of the march.
“But it is not a separatist protest. It is time to build bridges and the Catalan problem cannot be solved through the courts but by dialogue and politics,” he added.