Catalonia’s regional authorities declared a landslide win for the “yes” aspect in a disputed referendum on independence from Spain that degenerated into ugly scenes of mayhem on Sunday, with greater than 800 individuals injured as riot police attacked peaceable protesters and unarmed civilians gathered to forged their ballots.
Catalonia has “won the right to become an independent state,” Catalan president Carles Puigdemont mentioned after the polls closed, including that he would maintain his pledge to declare independence unilaterally from Spain if the “yes” aspect wins.
“Today the Spanish state wrote another shameful page in its history with Catalonia,” Puigdemont added, saying he would enchantment to the European Union to look into alleged human rights violations through the vote.
READ MORE: Over 400 Catalans injured in police crackdown throughout banned referendum on break up from Spain
Catalan regional authorities spokesman Jordi Turull instructed reporters early Monday that 90 % of the two.26 million Catalans who voted selected the “yes” aspect in favor of independence. He mentioned almost eight % of voters rejected independence and the remainder of the ballots have been clean or void. He mentioned 15,000 votes have been nonetheless being counted.
The area has 5.three million registered voters, and Turull mentioned the variety of ballots didn’t embody these confiscated by Spanish police throughout violent raids that aimed to cease the vote.
No one is aware of exactly what’s going to occur if Catalan officers really comply with via on their pledge to make use of the vote — chaotic because it was — as a foundation for declaring the northeastern area impartial, a provocative transfer that may threaten Spain with the doable lack of one in every of its most affluent areas, together with the favored coastal metropolis of Barcelona, the regional capital.
WATCH: Clashes erupt outdoors Catalan chief’s polling station in Girona
Hundreds of police armed with truncheons and rubber bullets have been despatched in from different areas to confiscate ballots and cease the voting, and newbie video confirmed some officers dragging individuals out of polling stations by the hair, throwing some down stairs, kicking them and pushing them to the bottom. Anguished, frightened screams might be heard.
Police have been performing on a decide’s orders to cease the referendum, which the Spanish authorities had declared unlawful and unconstitutional — and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy mentioned going ahead with the vote solely served to sow divisions.
In a televised tackle after the vast majority of polls closed Sunday, he thanked the Spanish police, saying that they had acted with “firmness and serenity” — feedback positive to anger Catalans.
READ MORE: Parents occupy faculties to defend Catalan independence vote, face evacuation deadline
Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis mentioned the violence, whereas “unfortunate” and “unpleasant” was “proportionate.”
“If people insist in disregarding the law and doing something that has been consistently declared illegal and unconstitutional, law enforcement officers need to uphold the law,” Dastis instructed The Associated Press in an interview.
Catalans favoring a break with Spain have lengthy needed greater than the restricted autonomy they now take pleasure in, arguing that they contribute excess of they obtain from the central authorities, which controls key areas together with taxes and infrastructure. The police aggression on Sunday was prone to solely gasoline the eagerness for independence, and the primary separatist group urged the regional authorities to declare independence after the violent crackdown.
WATCH: Catalan polling station sees tractor parked outdoors to dam police forward of vote
By day’s finish, Catalan well being companies mentioned 844 civilians had been handled in hospitals for accidents, together with two in severe situation and one other one who was being handled for an eye fixed damage that match the profile of getting been hit by a rubber bullet. Thirty-three cops have been additionally injured.
Officials planning the police operation could have didn’t take into consideration the ever-present use of good telephones with video recorders as violent photos have been broadcast the world over.
At the Pau Claris School in Barcelona, newbie footage filmed by one voter confirmed police roughing up unarmed individuals standing in their manner. Amateur video from different areas confirmed related techniques, with individuals seen being hit, kicked and thrown round by police, together with aged individuals with their canine, younger women and common residents of all stripes. Many tried to defend themselves from being smacked on the pinnacle.
READ MORE: Thousands rally in help of Catalan chief as he’s questioned over secession ballot
There have been additionally some indicators of provocation by activists. In footage launched by the Spanish Interior Ministry, some protesters have been seen throwing objects and metallic limitations at riot police.
Elisa Arouca, who was ready to vote outdoors the Estel college in central Barcelona, reacted with anger when nationwide police brokers yanked her and different potential voters out of the best way, then smashed the door open and confiscated the poll packing containers.
She had been planning to vote in favor of maintaining Catalonia a part of Spain, however determined as a substitute to hitch the march for independence. She moved to a different polling station to attempt to forged her vote in favor of breaking away.
“I was always against independence, but what the Spanish state is doing is making me change my mind,” she mentioned. “The national police and civil guard are treating us like criminals.”
WATCH: Supporters of Catalan independence collect for marketing campaign closing ceremony
There was no organized marketing campaign for the “no” aspect in the vote, which most nationwide political events boycotted as a result of it lacked authorized ensures and was suspended by the courts. Polls in latest years have proven roughly half of the 7.5 million residents of the area wish to stay part of Spain.
Mari Martinez, a 43-year-previous waitress, mentioned she didn’t vote in Sunday’s referendum. “I don’t lean toward independence, because we are part of Spain,” she mentioned. “Today’s violence is not good for anybody. We never should have gotten to this point. Politicians haven’t done their job, and they should have reached an agreement a long time ago.”
A member of the Israeli parliament, despatched in as an observer of the vote, mentioned she was shocked by the usage of rubber bullets by Spanish police in opposition to crowds of unarmed voters.
READ MORE: Quebec sovereignty teams rally to help Catalans in independence motion
“We did expect a normal democratic process,” mentioned Ksenia Svetlova, a part of a delegation of 33 individuals invited by Catalan officers to look at the voting course of. “We knew that a lot of police were here but still, you know, there should be a respect for the will of the people to vote regardless of what you think of the referendum.”
Tensions have been operating so excessive that Barcelona performed its soccer recreation in opposition to Las Palmas with out followers after the group introduced the match could be performed behind closed doorways shortly earlier than kickoff, with hundreds of soccer followers already outdoors the stadium. Barcelona needed to postpone the sport however mentioned the Spanish league refused the request.
Manuel Condeminas, a 48-year-previous IT supervisor who tried to dam police from driving away with poll packing containers on Sunday, mentioned police had kicked him and others earlier than utilizing their batons and firing the rubber bullets.
WATCH: Spain’s Catalonia area gears up for independence referendum
Elsewhere, civil guard officers, sporting helmets and carrying shields, used a hammer to interrupt the glass of the entrance door and a lock cutter to interrupt into the Sant Julia de Ramis sports activities heart close to town of Girona that was getting used as a polling station. At least one lady was injured outdoors the constructing, wheeled away on a stretcher by paramedics.
Clashes broke out lower than an hour after polls opened, and never lengthy earlier than Puigdemont, the Catalan regional president, was anticipated to show as much as vote on the sports activities heart. Polling station staff reacted peacefully and broke out into songs and chants difficult the officers’ presence. Puigdemont was compelled to vote in Cornella de Terri, close to the northern metropolis of Girona, his spokesman mentioned.