First they asked for support but the SNP did not give it. Then they came for the people but the Scottish Government did not protect them.
When the Catalans wanted voices to speak out for its independence bid last year, the Scottish Government mumbled excuses.
Now the legal forces of Europe arrest Spanish citizens on Scottish soil, the Scottish Government evades the matter.
Clara Ponsati was arrested and released on bail, charged under a European Arrest Warrant issued by the Spanish authorities, who wish to try her for sedition. Her lawyer, Aamer Anwar, says the charges amount to “political persecution”. It is a farce, and Nicola Sturgeon lets Scotland down by not vigorously saying so.
Professor Ponsati was a minister in the Catalan regional government which staged an illegal referendum in October 2017.
Madrid responded by suspending the regional government, imprisoning some of the Catalan nationalist leaders and issuing warrants for others.
It also held a legal vote in the region in December which showed that the people of the north-eastern Spanish region were split down the middle when it came to sticking with Spanish federalism or going the whole hog and becoming a sovereign state.
The popular vote nudged it for Madrid, the distribution of seats went in favour of the Barcelona nationalists. There was no clear mandate for change in Catalonia’s status but, equally, there was a serious and legitimate demand for something more.
During the ructions of last year, Catalan nationalists asked the SNP for vocal and unequivocal support.
It didn’t come.
Meal dropped from the mouths of Scottish Government ministers – the SNP’s natural conservatism overruled any romantic sense of unity among nationalist struggles.
Now Madrid has decided to pursue the legal charges.
Those in jail are stuck there on charges of sedition, and other figures behind the October referendum are being rounded up across Europe.
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has been held in Germany, Prof Ponsati in Scotland and four others are in Belgium and Switzerland.
Madrid is being the full register of stupid. When faced with no threat and no violence, and having held a lawful vote in which the nationalists failed to win a clear mandate, it is treating them like Maoist terrorists.
They are guilty of arrogance and stupidity, for holding a referendum and having no idea what to do afterwards, but do not represent a danger to anyone. Nobody cares about the ‘crime’ any more, because the world has moved on. And yet here comes the Spanish inquisition, Prime Minister Rajoy as an inept Torquemada.
Madrid is persecuting people who staged a very modern coup, gracefully accepted its failure and then abided by the rules of the Spanish state in an official vote three months later.
What the Catalan government did was blissfully 21st Century – no one got shot, everyone respected the ballot, and life carried on peacefully the day after the December vote.
Madrid’s action is bizarrely 1930s – rounding up the suspects, throwing the legal book at them and threatening to lock them away for decades.
Not only should Madrid be condemned for this Franco-esque spasm, but so should the European Union for colluding with this overreaction.
The Courier was there in December to witness the vote – this paper covered the event because of its significance to Spain, the EU and Scotland.
It is still the test of modern Europe – can the EU allow for old capitals to secede power to the region, is the EU accountable to the voters or to the bureaucrats?
The EU is failing the test miserably.
The great pity is the SNP is so cowed by the idea that it must play along with Brussels if its claims for quick EU entry post-independence are to go unchallenged, it has lost its moral bearings.
Ms Sturgeon hides behind legal points, that she has no locus on extradition and cannot interfere in the judicial process, avoiding that this is a political matter.
Aamer Anwar said yesterday: “Clara wishes to thank Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Government and politicians for their solidarity. Scotland has been a true friend to Catalonia in her darkest hours. However, it is absolutely right that the independence of the judiciary in Scotland is respected and that no government should ever interfere in that process. Clara accepts her fate now lies in the hands of the Scottish justice system.”
A quote so neatly deflecting the considerable criticism already aimed at the Scottish Government from voices across Scotland, one doubts its sincerity.
The government would have us think that a First Minister expressing a view on a matter that is not sub judice is somehow an interference with the judiciary – to which the only reasonable response is: poppycock. First Ministers opine, judges judge – it’s how our democracy works.
We need a clear message from Nicola Sturgeon at today’s First Minister’s Questions that the arrest of Prof Ponsati is a gross over-reaction to a legitimate, peaceful act. She must call for Madrid to drop its crude state terrorism dressed up as legalism. And she must challenge Brussels for its complicity with this folly.
If nobody speaks up for others, then who will speak up for us?