Hundreds of thousands of people, 750,000 according to the organisation and 315,000 to the police collapsed Barcelona’s avgda Paral·lel and all adjacent streets, including those around plaça d’Espanya, to demand the return of democratic freedoms and an end to state repression under a slogan calling for rights and freedom, for democracy and, above all, to bring the political prisoners and exiles home, with special reference to former ANC president Jordi Sanchez and the Òmnium leader, Jordi Cuixart, who have now been on remand for six months in the Soto del Real prison.
Demonstrators came from all over Catalonia, called to the capital by Espai Democràcia i Convivència, a conglomerate of Catalan organisations which include Òmnium and the ANC, the farmers union, UGT and CCOO and a number of other civic associations.
The huge gathering made it difficult for the main speakers, family members of those in exile or imprisoned, to reach the podium to address the crowd. Oriol Sánchez read out a letter written by his father and organisers read a manifesto calling for the central government to “urgently” release the political prisoners and begin “dialogue” between politicians to avoid the “polarisation of society”.
With the growing internationalisation of the Catalan question in both political spheres and the media, the demonstration also aimed to increase awareness outside the country. Banners in English touted calls such as “Europe wake up for democracy”; “Don’t ignore Catalans” or “Peaceful resistance”. Members of the crowd also carried flags from Belgium, Scotland and Germany.