“We just want to decide our future: freely, peacefully & democratically.” Carme Forcadell at #CoppietersAwards
On 26th of September 2017, Centre Maurits Coppieters recognised Carme Forcadell at an official award ceremony for her long history of social and political work supporting the Catalan language, grassroots democracy movements and the right to self-determination.
Carme Forcadell’s abridged speech from the 2017 #CoppietersAwards:
“I do not think I have done anything extraordinary to deserve this recognition. I have accepted civic commitments to defend the language, culture, education and political freedom of my country.
I have worked for social institutions and have performed my responsibilities as well as I can. But what I have done is not extraordinary.
What is extraordinary is the mobilization of Catalan society to claim its democratic right to decide on its political future.
What is extraordinary is that, year after year, more than a million people demonstrate on the streets peacefully and festively, without causing a single incident.
It is a movement that doesn’t distinguish between origin, social class nor mother tongue. A movement where everyone who respects democracy is welcome. A movement that looks not to the past, but to the future. A movement of an open and plural society.
But successive Spanish governments have offered no political response. They have not accepted any dialogue. What they have done is used to courts and police force to investigate and discredit political representatives.
Despite all this, Catalan society has persisted in its quest for self-determination. For 7 years we have been living in a democratic anomaly. Our autonomous framework is enshrined in a text that has not been ratified by Spain’s political representatives. Three general elections, with different governing majorities, have come and gone. None of them have shown any will to find a shared political solution.
We think that enough time has passed for us to promote a solution of our own: to hold a referendum on self-determination, which would ideally be agreed upon by the Spanish government.
But what has been the response of the Spanish government? It treated the vote as a crime. It increased the threat level in Catalonia. It pursued more court actions. It suspend – in practice – the Catalan autonomy.
It sent security forces to raid Catalan ministries, private homes, the headquarters of political parties and of the media. Public workers, civil servants and government officials have been arrested.
They even confiscated posters that only displayed the word ‘democracy’. Public debates on the referendum have been banned, even outside Catalonia.
They have ordered telecommunication service providers to block access to the Catalan government’s websites, preventing free access to the Internet. The Spanish government wants to hide the referendum, to make it clandestine, to generate fear.
But when the posters are seized, citizens are printing them at home to spread them on the streets. When the police searches for electoral material, citizens protest peacefully, giving the police carnation flowers, as in the Portugal revolution. For every threat they make, citizens respond with a smile and a growing desire to vote.
This is not just a struggle for a political objective, it is a struggle for democracy itself. And democrats are not afraid of ballot boxes.
Now, here in the heart of Europe, I would like to express my gratitude for the all the messages of support. I would also like to thank the Catalans living abroad for standing up for democracy.
I would also like to address the European institutions: will you do nothing to protect fundamental rights and freedoms of European citizens? Will you continue looking away while freedom of expression is violated in Spain? And freedom of information? And freedom of assembly?
Will you silently accept the repression carried out by Spain against Catalan institutions, 712 mayors, public servants, social organizations, citizens? Repression for wanting to vote? For defending democracy?
The future of Europe will be decided in Catalonia. The future of the European Project will be decided by the reaction of its institutions in the face of Spain’s antidemocratic attacks.
We are a very pro-European society. We strongly believe in the idea of a stronger, more democratic Europe.
We simply want to decide our future: freely, peacefully, and democratically.”