Catalan politicians attending national day celebrations reaffirm their support for independence and say meaningful negotiations with Madrid over the issue can only take place after jailed colleagues are freed
September 11 is Catalonia Day, or Diada as it's known in the northeast Spanish region. This year's celebrations are the first since Spain jailed a number of politicians for their part and support for the unilateral declaration of independence in 2017. Those people remain behind bars but were not forgotten by Catalan politicians attending this year's events.
"Today we have to talk about those absent," the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, told journalists. "There are social and political leaders in prison who are voiceless today. I think it is unjust for them to be imprisoned."
Catalonia remains at loggerheads with the Spanish government over the issue. The two are talking, but independence supporters say meaningul negotiations can only take place if the prisoners are released.
"Spain is a lawful state with separation of powers," said PSC Secretary General Miquel Iceta. "So if the government of Catalonia asks the government of Spain for things that are out of its hands, and those things are a pre-requisite for dialogue, then we can only take the path, the only possible way, which is dialogue, negotiation and agreement."
On Monday the Catalonian President Quim Torra raised the Catalan flag in front of thouands who took to the streets of Barcelona to demand the release of those jailed, who they claim are poltical prisoners.
Support for independence in last year's illegal referehdum was high but turn-out was low and the latest survey on the issue suggests it's a very close call.