The Spanish High Court has ordered the arrest of two people linked to separatist grassroots groups known as the Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR). According to official sources, the two are wanted on charges of rebellion and terrorism for their involvement in the push for Catalan independence.
The Civil Guard has so far arrested one woman from Viladecans, near Barcelona, who is accused of making and distributing an audio recording with instructions that preempted acts of vandalism during Easter week. During this period, CDR activists blocked several major highways and on April 1, members entered toll plazas on the AP-7 and C-32 highways, and forced the barriers open to let drivers through for free.
The arrest orders follow last week’s warnings from High Court prosecutors that they would pursue “criminal investigations of all types” into the group. In its statement, public prosecution services said that CDR’s actions “not only endanger public peace and constitutional order, but also the very essence of the democratic system.”
There are around 300 Committees throughout Catalonia, and their actions have been growing in number and scope ever since Germany arrested Carles Puigdemont, the former premier who fled to Belgium following the failed independence declaration last year. After his arrest, the CDR blocked the main highways in Catalonia for a number of hours before being dismantled by the Catalan regional police force.
The CDR are a continuation of the Committees for the Defense of the Referendum, groups that began to organize last year in July – online and through instant message service apps such as Telegram – to stop the central government from intervening in the illegal referendum on Catalan independence.
After the referendum took place, the CDR declared they were Catalan “republic defense committees” and played an active role in the “national strike” called for October 3, occupying buildings such as the high-speed AVE station in Girona. Although the group’s core continues to be anti-establishment radicals, students, professionals and retirees have also joined their ranks.
English version by Melissa Kitson.