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  • The Defense of the Republic Committees organized a silent march to honor victims and protest the monarchy, Barcelona, August 17, 2018.

    The Defense of the Republic Committees organized a silent march to honor victims and protest the monarchy, Barcelona, August 17, 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 17 August 2018

One group of protesters, as yet unidentified, hung a giant banner reading 'The Spanish King Is Not Welcome In Catalan Countries.' 

Friday marks the first annivesary of the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils that killed 16 people and injured many more, with hundreds gathered in Cataluña Square to honor the victims.

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Barcelona's authorities organized a memorial ceremony with the presence of the Spanish monarchy, Felipe VI and Letizia; Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez; Mayor Ada Colau and the President of the Generalitat, Quim Torra.

In a parallel event, the Committees in Defense of the Republic (CDR) organized a silent march to honor the victims and protest against the presence of the monarchy. They marched from the Portal de la Pau square to La Rambla, scene of last year's tragedy, and laid floral tributes.

One group of protesters, as yet unidentified, hung a giant banner reading 'The Spanish King Is Not Welcome In Catalan Countries' from a building in front of the square. 

A banner protesting King Felipe hangs from a building beside Plaza Catalunya in central Barcelona, Spain, on August 17, 2018. Photo | Reuters

A separate pro-monarchy group, carrying Spanish flags, protested the banner and demanded it be removed, but without success.

Another banner read 'Freedom for political prisoners! Without them, this act is a scam,' while another showed King Felipe VI shaking hands with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Despite tensions, the heavy police presence prevented any physical confrontation between the opposing groups.

The official 'Barcelona, city of peace' ceremony began at 10:30 a.m. local time with Pau Casals' 'El Cant Dels Ocells' (The Song of the Birds), which has become a Catalan ode to peace.

It was hosted by the journalist Gemma Nierga, who praised the labor of emergency and security staff and the citizen heroes that aided the victims after the attacks.

About 150 survivors and relatives of the victims, from 12 countires, sat in the front rows of the event, followed by politicians and the monarchy.

"Barcelona embraces you and wants to be with you in grief," Nierga told the victims. "Dear families that have suffered and suffer so much, we will end this end but we won't stop being with you because we want peace, because we don't want indifference."

Relatives place flowers in memory of victims of the twin Islamist attacks on the Catalan capital and the coastal town of Cambrils that killed 16 people at Las Ramblas, central Barcelona, Spain, August 17, 2018. Photo | Reuters

Eight young people of different religions read fragments of the poem 'Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions' by 16th century English metaphysical poet John Donne in eight languages spoken by the victims of the attacks: Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, Italian, German and Dutch.

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee," the poem reads.

About 50 young music students played popular international peace songs, such as John Lennon's 'Imagine,' and Jaume Sisa's 'Qualsevol nit pot sortir el sol.'

The survivors and relatives of the victims were greeted one by one by King Felipe VI and other authorities during the event.

By 11:15 a.m., the ceremony had ended and people present started chanting 'No tinc por' (I'm not afraid).

Before the ceremony, Catalan regional authorities, politicians and relatives of the victims had placed a floral tribute in the place where the van finally came to a halt, and members of Muslim communities held banners promoting peaceful coexistance.

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