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Catalan bishops call for calm as Spain cracks down on independence vote

24 September 2017

Williams also warned that the Spanish government will "not win the loyalty of people by sending in police, locking people up and banning demonstrations".

"Madrid should allow some constitutional change; so, the Catalans could have the right to vote and Madrid should try to convince the Catalans to stay in Spain".

Catalonia, which wants to hold a vote on October 1 to split from Spain, has its own police called Mossos d'Esquadra, though the state police Guardia Civil has quarters throughout the region and often works alongside them.

Catalan regional police officers stand in front of protesters who gathered in support of Catalan officials arrested in raids on government offices, outside a courthouse in Barcelona, Spain on September 22, 2017.

Meanwhile, Ian Williams, the other contributor on the panel, said the Catalan separatists are playing very cleverly by provoking the government in Madrid, "because they know the government is stupid enough" to fall in the trap.

Protesters gathered in their thousands yesterday outside Catalonia's Economy Ministry in Barcelona to demand the release of officials arrested for planning an independence vote deemed illegal by Madrid.

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The growing police presence and aggressive crackdowns are fueling mounting protests among the Catalan population, with thousands taking to the streets of Barcelona, and dock workers refusing to provide services to the police staying on the ferries.

"We denounce the attempt by the state to intervene in the police forces of Catalonia", Joaquim Forn, the head of Catalonia's interior department and the civilian head of the Catalan police, said Saturday, reading a statement on regional television.

Catalonia's regional government said new measures including a ban on police time off were over the top and meant to create a false impression of crisis.

The Spanish government has filed a legal suit against Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, leaders of the Catalan National Assembly and pro-independence groups, for sedition.

The university's administration responded to the rallies saying that the students could be in the building of the educational institution until their protest remained peaceful and the property of the university remained undamaged.

Spain's central government says the planned referendum violates Spain's constitution. Polls consistently show the region's inhabitants favor holding a referendum but are roughly evenly divided over independence from Spain.

Catalan bishops call for calm as Spain cracks down on independence vote