Foreign mediators? Catalonia urges Madrid to talk independence, forwards letter to Trump, Putin & Xi

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                <figcaption>People rally for Catalonia's independence in Barcelona on September 11, 2018. © Albert Gea / Reuters / <span class="copyright">Free</span></figcaption>
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                        <strong>Catalonia’s leader has urged the Spanish government to enter a constructive “mediated dialogue” over the region’s independence aspirations, sending a copy of his letter to the US, Russian and Chinese leaders.</strong>

        In a letter dated September 26 and leaked to the media on Thursday, Catalan President Quim Torra formally asked Madrid to <em>&ldquo;enter mediated dialogue as quickly as possible.&rdquo;</em>

“You may also wish to suggest one or more institutional mediators and observers to facilitate the substantive dialogue process,” he wrote in the letter to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, while also calling on him to ask prosecutors to drop charges against Catalan leaders who were detained during the referendum crisis of 2017.

Torra also sent a copy of the letter, which was written in English, to 43 international and regional leaders. Trump, Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping were among the recipients.

A Catalan regional government source said Torra sent the letter to the leaders of the US, Russia, and China because their countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC). However, he did not send it to French President Emmanuel Macron, according to AFP, despite France also being a permanent member. It is unclear whether the letter was sent to British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Catalonia, which has long sought independence from Madrid, held a referendum in October 2017 which saw more than 92 percent of voters pushing for the region to break free from the rest of Spain. However, that vote was declared illegal by Madrid and many leaders and activists who played a major role in the referendum are imprisoned and awaiting trial. Others have fled the country.

The Spanish national police has come under fire for its behavior towards pro-independence activists, with Human Rights Watch concluding last year that officers used “excessive force towards peaceful Catalans expressing their political opinion.” Meanwhile, the fight for independence continues in Catalonia, with one million people hitting the streets of Barcelona last month shouting “Freedom!” and “Independence!”

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