[QODLink]
Europe

Catalans join hands to demand independence

Human chain 400km long in bilingual northeastern region meant to push for referendum on separating from Spain.

Last Modified: 11 Sep 2013 23:32
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of an independent Catalan state have held hands in a 400km human chain across the region to press the Madrid government to let them form their own country.

Demonstrators in yellow T-shirts and draped in blue, red and yellow separatist banners raised joined hands through cities and along rural roads, jumping and shouting in celebration when the chain was completed on Wednesday.

"Today is a historic day.The Catalan people have reaffirmed their determination to be a free state," said Carme Forcadell, the president of the Catalan National Assembly, which organised the human chain.

The human chain was planned on a traditional regional holiday. Last year, more than one million people rallied in Barcelona, the largest show of separatist sentiment since the 1970s.

The chain, named the Catalan Way, linked 86 towns and villages along the coast to push for a referendum on political self-determination for Catalonia.

Promised referendum

Artur Mas, Catalonia's regional leader, has promised to hold an independence referendum in 2014, but has been unable to get the Spanish government's approval.

Catalonia is a wealthy industrial region in northeastern Spain that accounts for a fifth of the country's economic output.

Map showing route of the Catalan Way human chain

Al Jazeera's Emma Hayward, reporting from Barcelona on Wednesday, said Spain's regions all had some degree of autonomy, but people in Catalonia felt it was not enough.

"The is a real buzz in the city today," she said.

"Catalonia has always been one of the economic powerhouses of Spain, even since the recession, and people here say they have been putting a lot in and getting very little in return.

"But this is about more than economics. They feel their culture is very distinct from Spain's and they want independence."

A deep recession and cuts in public spending in Catalonia have stirred discontent with the central government.

Polls show backing for secession has risen steadily in Catalonia, with some registering support as high as 50 percent.

Al Jazeera's Hayward said that in a survey, eight out of 10 people said they would like to go to the polls to have their say on the situation.

"This is about people wanting to have a referendum to decide their own future in Europe," she said.

401

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.