statement on Catalan Independence

22. 01. 2019

Dear colleagues and friends,
It is with deep regret that we take notice of Mr Mario Vargas Llosa’s Letter of Resignation from PEN International. Our President Emeritus and the author whom we all read and admire has taken his step in the belief that PEN International has lately espoused the cause of Catalan independence – a political stance which he himself does not support. His resignation followed the PEN International statement in support of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sánchez, who were first arrested in October 2017, demanding their immediate release.
PEN International Writers for Peace Committee has given its full support to the demand firmly believing that, regardless of politics, a non-violent civil action cannot in itself constitute a criminal offence against the State. And yet, in Spain, it can.
Several articles of the Law, including the infamous article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, allow the authorities to treat almost any organised demonstration of political dissent as an act of sedition and insurgence, especially if the indivisible character of the State is in question. As such, they touch on and, clearly, disenfranchise some of the civil rights which make part of democratic thinking and writing in any society.  
Dear friends, while our opinions on the Catalan independence may vary significantly, expressing our disgust with the violence of the Spanish police on the eve of the Catalan referendum and our giving support to the two imprisoned Catalan civil society leaders does not fall short of  our Charter professing the freedoms of expression and freedom of speech.  

Marjan Strojan, Chair of the Writers for Peace Committee, PEN International