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One Million Catalans Rally for Independence in Barcelona

One Million Catalans Rally for Independence in BarcelonaOne Million Catalans Rally for Independence in Barcelona

Around one million Catalans rallied in Barcelona on Tuesday, banging drums and blowing whistles in a show of support for independence nearly a year after a failed attempt to break away from Spain.

Wearing coral-red T-shirts and waving the red, yellow and blue Catalan separatist flag, a sea of protesters gathered for the rally on Catalonia’s “national day” which commemorates Barcelona’s fall to troops loyal to Spain’s King Philip V in 1714, AFP reported.

The annual “Diada” holiday has since 2012 been used to stage a massive rally calling for secession for the wealthy northeastern region with its own distinct language.

But this year’s event had particular significance as a test of strength after a referendum last October 1, and the Catalan parliament’s unilateral declaration of independence on October 27, all came to naught.

Demonstrators climbed on each other’s shoulders to form human towers, a Catalan tradition, while others carried yellow and black signs that read “Free Catalan political prisoners now,” a reference to Catalan separatist leaders in jail awaiting trial over last year’s independence bid.

City police said on Twitter that around one million people took part, a similar amount to last year’s protest.

Organizers said they had sold over 200,000 coral-red T-shirts—the color used in the ties used to secure the ballot boxes during last year’s contested referendum.

Catalan president Quim Torra said the rally marks the start of a “mass mobilization”. Further protests are planned for an anniversary of last year’s banned referendum, which was marred by police violence, and on the anniversary of the failed declaration of independence.

In a televised address on Monday, he said his government was “committed to implementing the republic” Catalans voted for in the referendum.

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