Paris, Nov 12 (IANS) French riot police on Tuesday began to clear hundreds of pro-Catalan independence protesters who blocked one of the main highways on the border between Spain and France.
Demonstrators began a sit-in a La Jonquera from at around 9 a.m. on Monday in a protest organized by Tsunami Democràtic, an activist group that has staged several such protests after Spain’s Supreme Court last month sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to up to 13 years in jail on sedition charges for their role in a banned independence referendum, reports Efe news.
The Jonquera crossing is a busy trade route connecting Spain with France and the rest of the European Union.
French police began to remove demonstrators one by one just as the sit-in protest entered its 24th hour.
The crowd, displaying pro-independence flags and placards, tried to approach the border area.
On November 8, the Tsunami Democràtic announced it would stage its “most ambitious action” in the wake of the repeat general election in Spain on 10 November.
The group emerged following the landmark sentencing of figures such as former Catalan regional president Oriol Junqueras for his role in the illegal referendum on October 1, 2017.
Junqueras’ party, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), is the largest separatist party in the Madrid-based national Parliament with 13 of 350 seats.
In the wake of the election, the party said it would unify its votes with two other pro-independence parties, JxCat and CUP.
Although acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) won the repeat vote with 120 seats – dropping three from April – headlines were dominated by a surge in the far-right, as Vox, a vehemently anti-Catalan separatist party, more than doubled its taking with 52 seats in Parliament.
The former regional Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, remains in exile in Belgium, facing the same charges has his ex-deputy should he return to Spain.
Spain’s National Court is also investigating Tsunami Democràtic for alleged acts of terror-related to its action in blocking Barcelona’s international airport on October 14, the day of the Supreme Court ruling in the Catalan case.