King Felipe of Spain has accused the Catalan authorities of attempting to break “the unity of Spain” and warned that their push for independence could risk the country’s social and economic stability, says the Guardian.
In a rare and strongly worded television address on October 3 evening, he said the Catalan government’s behaviour had “eroded the harmony and coexistence within Catalan society itself, managing, unfortunately, to divide it”.
In his speech, the king described the regional government actions as “an unacceptable attempt” to take over Catalan institutions, adding that they had placed themselves outside both democracy and the law.
He ended the speech by saying the crown was firmly committed to the constitution and to democracy, and that he, as king, was committed “to the unity and permanence of Spain”.
Meanwhile human rights groups are investigating claims that Spanish police used excessive force to crack down on participants in Catalonia’s referendum on secession.
Reportedly the police used truncheons and rubber bullets when they weren’t facing imminent danger or physical threat.
Human Rights Watch, a New York-based NGO, told Al Jazeera on October 3 that it has sent a representative to Barcelona to examine allegations it has received of police brutality.
“There are some serious allegations of excessive use of force by police against people who were assembling peacefully to express their views on the referendum,” said Kartik Raj, a researcher with HRW.
Reports said force was used under orders from Madrid to shut down polling stations and seize ballot boxes.
Firefighters in Catalonia supported the independence referendum in the region by forming a human barrier between riot police and voters
At least 893 civilians and 431 police officers were injured in October 1 clashes, according to regional and national authorities. .
More than two million people, or 90 percent of those who cast a ballot, voted “Yes” to Catalonia breaking away from Spain.
The Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, declared that Catalonia had “won the right to an independent state”, to which Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy replied by denying that the referendum took place.