The Spanish government has been accused of ‘North Korean’ tactics after trying to to stop Sunday’s independence referendum in Catalonia, which it has branded ‘illegal’.
Madrid said police would take control of voting booths on Sunday and any local politicians opening a polling station could be charged with criminal activity.
The government has been compared to China, North Korea and Turkey, after blocking internet servers for websites containing information on how to vote in the referendum on Sunday.
Protest: Spain’s government have ordered police to would take control of voting booths and ballots in Catalonia ahead of Sunday’s referendum on independence
‘What they’re doing by blocking domain name servers is doing what Turkey does and what China does and what North Korea does,’ a spokesman for the Catalan government told The Guardian.
‘No western democracy does that. The internet is the kingdom of freedom.’
However, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said the referendum is against the law and the constitutional court has ordered it be halted while its legality is determined.
The government has also banned websites promoting the referendum, as they say the process has violated the Spanish constitution
Senior Spanish government officials said authorities had done enough to prevent a meaningful referendum as Catalonia lacked an election commission, ballot boxes, ballot papers, a transparent census and election material.
Fightback: Today, students demonstrate against the position of the Spanish government to ban the self-determination referendum of Catalonia
On fire: Catalan firefighters unfold a large banner with a ballot box and reading ‘Love Democracy’ in front of the Museum of History of Catalonia
Grassroots groups driving Catalonia’s independence movement say they have started distributing one million ballots to be used on Sunday
‘Today we can affirm that there will be no effective referendum in Catalonia. All the referendum’s logistics have been dismantled,’ the Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia, Enric Millo, told reporters in Barcelona.
Catalonia’s prosecutor has ordered the regional police – known as the Mossos d’Esquadra – to take control of any voting booths by Saturday, a spokesman for the Madrid government’s Catalan delegation said.
In an order to police issued on Monday, the prosecutor’s office said they would take the names of anyone participating in the vote and confiscate relevant documents.
Anyone in possession of the keys or entrance codes to a polling booth could be considered a collaborator to crimes of disobedience, malfeasance and misappropriation of funds, the order said.
The Madrid government has in recent weeks taken political and legal measures to prevent the referendum by exerting more control over the use of public funds in Catalonia and arresting regional officials. Hundreds of police reinforcements have been brought into Barcelona and other cities.
The Catalan goverment is keeping with its plan to hold a referendum, due to take place on Octorber 1, which has been deemed illegal by the Spanish government in Madrid
The government has been compared to North Korea after blocking internet servers for websites containing information on how to vote
The Spanish government has said the election process has violated the Spanish constitution
Madrid has also threatened fines against bureaucrats working on the ballot, including the region’s election commission, which was dissolved last week.
These actions have provoked mass demonstrations and drawn accusations from Catalan leaders that the Madrid government was resorting to the repression of the Franco dictatorship.
A ‘yes’ vote is likely, given that most of the 40 percent of Catalans who polls show support independence are expected to cast ballots while most of those against it are not.
But the unrelenting opposition from Madrid means such a result would go all but unrecognised, potentially setting up a new phase of the dispute.
The Catalan regional government, which plans to declare independence within 48 hours of a ‘yes’ victory, maintained on Tuesday the vote will go ahead and it sent out notifications to Catalans to man polling booths across the region.
Two sides: People in Cadiz, southen Spain, wave Spanish national flags as they bid farewell to Civil guards deployed to Catalonia to reinforce the security forces ahead of the referendum
Many had not yet received information about where or when they would be working after the state-run postal service was ordered to stop all mail related to the vote, a parliamentary spokeswoman for one separatist party said.
Yesterday, Catalonia’s leader says the government’s crackdown Spain’s crackdown on a controversial independence referendum is boosting support for the vote in a way that European institutions won’t be able to ignore.
Regional president Carles Puigdemont criticized the European Commission in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press for turning ‘deaf ears’ so far to Catalonia’s desire to hold a vote.
Puigdemont also said that the Commission has turned its back on Catalans by not defending the fundamental rights of all European citizens during the controversial measures adopted by Spain’s courts and central authorities to try to stop the vote.
In the interview four days ahead of the vote, Puigdemont also promised to turn the conflict with Spain into a European affair rather than a domestic issue.
No country, within or outside the European Union, has openly expressed support for the October 1st referendum.