Jordi Sanchez, former president of the Catalan National Assembly and president of the pro-independence party Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), and Jordi Turull Two, leader of the same party have started a hunger strike Saturday at midnight to protest their imprisonment and treatment by Spanish courts.
The two are awaiting trial for their role in Catalonia's Independence referendum held on Oct. 1, 2017.
Independence was endorsed by 90 percent of voters. However, only 43 percent of Catalans participated in the referendum.
Following the vote, Catalonia declared independence. Madrid, head of the central Spanish government, took direct control of the region and brought charges including misuse of public funds and rebellion against Catalan leaders, nine of whom are in jail awaiting trial.
Many believe the Catalan leaders are political prisoners and have organized several rallies demanding their freedom.
Two of the leaders in custody —Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Turull— announced in a joint statement that they had started refusing food to protest at the failure of Spanish courts to process numerous appeals in relation to their cases.
“We are not asking the court for special treatment. But we will not passively accept discrimination or unwarranted delays,” the two men said in the statement.
Sanchez told Reuters in an interview last week that he was convinced he would not get a fair trial in Spain, but believed he and other pro-independence leaders would be acquitted by the European Court of Human Rights.
The modern Catalan uprising stems from the 2010 Spanish constitutional court ruling undoing the regional government’s aspiration for more autonomy, deeming the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia unconstitutional.
The statute was challenged by the right-wing Popular Party, which also ordered a violent crackdown of Catalan protesters following the independence referendum.