People in Scotland have taken to the streets to show their support for Catalonia’s independence referendum due to be held in early October, hours after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon criticized the Spanish government for cracking down on the vote organizers.
Sturgeon, who is the leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), on Thursday backed the Catalan regional government for planning the referendum, saying that “the right of self-determination is an important international principle.”
“It is of course entirely legitimate for Spain to oppose independence for Catalonia, but what I think is of concern anywhere is for a state to deny the right of a people to democratically express their will,” she added.
Later in the day, demonstrators gathered in the Scottish city of Glasgow in a show of solidarity with Catalans.
Sturgeon’s National Party has formerly called for a fresh vote on independence before Britain leaves the European Union (EU). But Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out it out for now, saying the United Kingdom needed certainty, stability, and strong leadership following last year’s referendum, in which 52 percent of Britons voted leave the EU. Scottish voters, however, overwhelmingly voted to remain in the UK.
Back in 2014, Scotland held its first independence referendum, in which over 55 percent of the people voted to remain part of the UK.
The demonstration in Glasgow was held after thousands of people in Catalonia rallied in to the streets of Barcelona on Wednesday to protest against the Madrid government.
Madrid, which has branded Catalonia’s independence referendum illegal, warned that those contributing to the vote in any form would face criminal prosecution.
Police intensified their crackdown since Wednesday, arresting several key members of the team organizing the referendum for October 1.