Thousands of Catalans attend candlelit protest for arrested separatist leaders

Barcelona crowd backs Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez as direct-rule deadline looms

LAST UPDATED: 18 Oct, 2017 @ 10:01
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MORE than 200,000 Catalans have marched in Barcelona to demand the release of two jailed separatist leaders.

‘WE ARE ALL JORDIS’: Barcelona protesters

Hundreds more marched in Palma de Mallorca in support of Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural and Jordi Sanchez from the National Catalan Assembly (ANC).

The pair were detained on Monday on charges of sedition.

Meanwhile, Mariano Rajoy today called for Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to act with ‘sense’ as tomorrow’s deadline to withdraw his independence declaration looms.

Cuixart and Sanchez were denied bail and could face trial over their roles in organising the October 1 referendum, but independence leaders remain defiant.

Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said: “Surrender is not something this government is considering.”

The protesters accused Madrid of holding the men as political prisoners.

“It’s shocking. The situation has become very serious,” one marcher told Al Jazeera.

Protesters held candles in support of Cuixart and Sanchez with many chanting ‘We’re all Jordis’.

Demonstrations were also held in Girona and Reus.

Puigdemont has until tomorrow morning to revoke last week’s independence call.

If he does not, Madrid could impose direct rule on Catalunya with Rajoy refusing to back down in a speech last week.

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