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article imageCatalans form human chain for independence from Spain (video)

By Anne Sewell     Sep 11, 2013 in World
Barcelona - On Wednesday, September 11, tens of thousands of Catalonians joined hands at precisely 17:14 to form a vast human chain across the region, demanding independence from Spain. (Video update).
Digital Journal reported on the plans to form a huge human chain across the region, similar to that done in Estonia in 1989 in support of the independence of the Baltic States.
On Wednesday, the Catalan red and yellow flags colored the local streets, which rang to Catalan folk music as the locals prepared to join hands on Catalonia's national day.
The human chain, named the "Catalan Way Towards Independence", was due to link 86 towns and villages over 400 kilometers (250 miles) along the coast to push for a referendum on political self-determination for Catalonia in 2014.
Catalan Way Towards Independence  human chain formed on September 11  2013.
Catalan Way Towards Independence, human chain formed on September 11, 2013.
The human chain protest is hoping to generate international media coverage of the referendum drive, which is staunchly resisted by Spain's central government.
The Catalan Way was set to be in position at 17:14. Timing was important, as the year 1714 was the date of a military defeat which for many Catalan separatists marked the beginning of three centuries of oppression by the Spanish state.
The region is considered a key driver of Spain's economy, but has also been hit by the country's recession, with unemployment at close to 24 percent.
Pro-independence feelings have arisen in recent years as people protest the fact that Spain's crisis is making them feel slighted and short-changed by the central government which redistributes their taxes.
Catalan Way Towards Independence  human chain formed on September 11  2013.
Catalan Way Towards Independence, human chain formed on September 11, 2013.
Carme Forcadell is president of the Catalan National Assembly, which is a grassroots group who organized the human chain.
She told the crowd in central Barcelona:
"We need to put an end to the cultural and economic suffocation we are suffering."
"We have come out in our hundreds of thousands into the street to show in a democratic and inclusive way that we are capable of achieving any aim we set ourselves."
She had said earlier that the rally was hoping to draw 400,000 people.
The vast chain passed many well-known landmarks in Barcelona, including the Sagrada Familia basilica and the Camp Nou football stadium, which can be seen in the video below:
Demonstrators wore yellow t-shirts bearing the slogan "Catalan Way Towards Independence".
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government refuses to accept a breakup of Spain and has vowed to block a referendum on self-rule that Catalonia's regional president Artur Mas has promised for 2014.
Mas told foreign media in a briefing, "We are in dialogue with the government but I doubt very much that this dialogue will bear fruit. I do not see any political will."
Such a "unilateral declaration of independence that would have serious consequences for Spain and also for Catalonia" which would have to "bid farewell to the European Union", said Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.
However, Albert Garcia, a 60-year-old doctor who appeared in Wednesday's rally holding a flag said, "Despite the government's attempts to go against the will of the people, we want to show that we can achieve independence peacefully."
The Guardian is asking people to submit their photos of the human chain, so hopefully they will have a good slideshow later today or tomorrow.
Catalan Way Towards Independence  Camp Nou stadium - September 11  2013.
Catalan Way Towards Independence, Camp Nou stadium - September 11, 2013.
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