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Tens of thousands take part in Catalan protest in Brussels

Europe
07.12.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - Around 45,000 people took to the streets of Brussels on Thursday to demonstrate for Catalan independence, calling on the European Union to show support for the northern Spanish region.

The march, held under the motto "Europe wake up," centred on the European quarter where several EU institutions are based. Police confirmed the number of participants and said the protest was peaceful.

Protesters - including ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont - marched in a sea of yellow, red and blue Catalan flags, chanting for the release of imprisoned politicians and carrying banners demanding European solidarity.

The mood was festive, with protesters shrouded in yellow capes to shield off the rain.

"The EU should help us, because we are European citizens," said Pere Lheal, who had travelled to the Belgian capital from his home near Barcelona.

"We want to be free," added a young man accompanied by his whole family.

Catalonia declared independence following a referendum on October 1, prompting the government in Madrid to dismiss the region‘s entire administration. The country‘s supreme court has declared the vote illegal.

Puigdemont and four of his ministers absconded to Brussels, while several other members of his administration were placed under arrest.

A Spanish extradition order demanding the return of Puigdemont and his colleagues was withdrawn earlier this week, but criminal charges against them remain.

New regional elections are due in Catalonia on December 21, but Puigdemont has said he will not leave Belgium for the time being.

 

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