Spanish riot police disrupt Catalan independence vote with rubber bullets

catalan referendum 1
catalan referendum 1

REUTERS/Jon Nazca

  • Voting in the Catalan independence referendum was immediately disrupted by riot police this morning.

  • Guardia Civil in full riot gear prevented many from casting a ballot.

  • Hundreds of people have been injured in the clashes.

  • Ballot boxes were seized and polling stations smashed and shuttered.

  • Most Catalans got to vote, but not all.

The Spanish government order its Guardia Civil to shut down polling stations early this morning in the Catalonia region of Spain. Some of the scenes are brutal, as this tweet from the former mayor of Belfast shows:

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914455115578437632?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." #CatalanReferendum pic.twitter.com/z7T1huDFEU

 Catalan firefighters tried to protect the voters.

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914473277443031041?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Spanish police attacking Catalan firefighters who were trying to protect #CatalanReferendum voters. pic.twitter.com/3ipPH3X5jL

Multiple videos on Twitter purported to show the police firing rubber bullets at protesters on the street.

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914420147464605698?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Footage of Spanish police firing rubber bullets during #CatalanReferendumpic.twitter.com/YPE159jJS9

Catalans were trying to stage a referendum on whether their region of the Spanish peninsula, which includes Barcelona, should become an independent country. But the Spanish government regards the vote as an illegal act and sent riot police to seize ballot boxes and prevent people from voting.

Spain’s Constitutional Court previously ruled "that a regional government cannot call a referendum, because Spain’s constitution does not recognize the right to self-determination and establishes that sovereignty resides with Spanish citizens collectively."

According to Europe Elects, a Twitter account that follows elections in the EU, 90% of ballot stations remained open.

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914471717040517120?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Spain (Catalonia): Indy Ref

90%+ of ballot stations now open.#CatalanReferendum #1Oct pic.twitter.com/TfiDEhGBCL

But it's not clear whether Catalan authorities will be able to produce a final tally, as many votes are missing and lots of people were prevented from voting.

The scenes from Spain this morning were spectacular and disturbing, as police prevented people from voting on the orders of the central government in Madrid. 337 people have been injured in the clashes, according to Sky News.

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914407872389435393?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Sorry but this looks like fascism. #CatalanReferendum pic.twitter.com/pjHq6wvZOu

 Spain's elected central government is against holding the referendum, which it has declared illegal.

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914403967223787520?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
This is their 'democracy'.#Erdoganisation of Spain#CatalanReferendum pic.twitter.com/urNS4Q1a7A

 Police were out in force.

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914397453692088321?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
This is their democracy, this is our victory! #CatalanReferendum pic.twitter.com/YkfpKyU4MW

Catalan voters tried to force their way in to stations to vote, and police used force to block them:

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914403241496137728?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Wondering if anyone really believes it's the way to convince your people to stay in your country #CatalanReferendum pic.twitter.com/ihd1Vav34m

Lots of tweets came from pro-independence activists:

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914380607660134401?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
#BREAKING Spain anti-riot police pushed back by hundreds defending #CatalanReferendum poll station in BCN #Cataloniapic.twitter.com/RNDyasMlAT

 Voting was scheduled to start at 8.30 a.m. but police shut down polls almost immediately:

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914397439238557696?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Not #Turkey its #Spain: #Riot #Police storm ballot station and confiscated the ballots boxes. #CatalanReferendum #Idependence pic.twitter.com/un8koiK9VV

 One of the most dramatic images was this woman who sustained a cut to the head as police moved in:

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914396669273395201?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Shame on you Spain! We won't forget #CatalanReferendum #freedom pic.twitter.com/Avo43l7O2k

 Here is the wider shot:

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914396795467452416?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
She only wanted to vote #1oct #CatalanReferendum #referendumRAC1 pic.twitter.com/7wzrYKB4dS

 There was a massive turnout of early morning voters at some stations — and a huge police presence blocking them:

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914380607660134401?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
#BREAKING Spain anti-riot police pushed back by hundreds defending #CatalanReferendum poll station in BCN #Cataloniapic.twitter.com/RNDyasMlAT

 Sky News had cameras in the region and got some great shots of the action.

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/914396305157275649?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
.@Stone_SkyNews is in Barcelona where riot police have been depolyed as the independence referendum gets under way #CatalanReferendum pic.twitter.com/3olOBMxlQ4

 

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