The Spanish authorities ordered the removal of symbols hanging from the Regional government headquarters' balcony.
In compliance with an order from Spain's Central Electoral Board (JEC), the president of the Catalan Autonomous Government, Joaquim Torra, removed Friday symbols supporting Catalonia’s independence, although he announced his intention to appeal before the Supreme Court.
The JEC gave two ultimatums to Torra this week to remove a big "Yellow Ribbon" banner, which showed solidarity with imprisoned pro-independence politicians. This happened because the Spanish authorities considered these symbols as "partisan" expressions.
At first, the Catalan president overlaid the original poster and another with similar characteristics and replaced the yellow ribbon with a white one which had a red stripe. Then he replied to the JEC by saying that the public display of the symbols was a matter of freedom of expression.
Shortly after the JCE decided to take Torra to the Office of the Prosecutor for the criminal responsibility and ordered Catalonia’s Regional Police to remove all pro-independence symbols from the regional government buildings.
Torra announced his intention to file a contentious administrative appeal before the Supreme Court against the JEC’s decision. The Catalan leader also said he will not stop defending "freedom of expression” no matter the consequences.
A proof of his commitment is a third banner which hangs from the Regional government headquarters' balcony and says "Freedom of opinion and expression, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
On March 16, thousands marched through Madrid protesting against the trial of 12 pro-independence leaders, who face years in prison for their role in organizing the 2017 pro-independence referendum.
This judicial process, which is taking place at Spain's Supreme Court, has increased political tensions between the Central government in Madrid and the Regional government in Barcelona.
The Catalan issue is set to play a major role in April 28 elections in Spain, an event in which the conservative People's Party (PP), the center-right Ciudadanos Party and the far-right Vox party are all calling for Spain to take a tougher position with pro-independence Catalan politicians.