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Google Removes Catalan Referendum App on Spanish Court Order
01 October 2017, 12:32 | Floyd Cook
Gerard Pique Offers to Quit Spain Team Amid Catalan Referendum Troubles
The Spanish police monitored schools earmarked as polling stations and occupied the Catalan government's communications hub yesterday in an effort to prevent a banned independence referendum that has divided Spain.
Jordi Turull, the Catalan executive's spokesman, said Friday in Barcelona that nearly 7,000 volunteers are ready to open 2,315 polling stations across the region of 7.5 million people.
Spanish authorities raided Catalan government offices, detained more than a dozen Catalan government officials and seized millions of ballot papers last week as part of a widespread crackdown ahead of the referendum, triggering massive protests.
Dr James Summers is a Professor of International Law at Lancaster University.
Spain's education ministry warned in a statement that school directors in Catalonia "were not exempt from liability" if they helped to stage Sunday's referendum, which Madrid deems illegal. Catalan officials said they plan to hold the referendum anyway.
The academics, from the fields of political science, law, economics, human rights, sociology, and history, compared the current government's actions to that of fascist dictator Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain for nearly forty years before his death in 1975. Pro- and anti-independence protests also unfolded this week in Madrid and other cities.
"We will vote!" and "Independence!" the protesters shouted as they marched along the Gran Via, one of Barcelona's main avenues, on Thursday. Police have been ordered to stop ballots from being cast on Sunday and have been cracking down for days, confiscating millions of ballots and posters.
And the European Union said Catalonia would be forced out of the bloc and have to reapply to join if it leaves Spain, an EU member.
So far, the Catalan police, known as the Mossos, a force that is held in affection in the region, particularly after the Islamist attacks in August, have shown a friendly face.
While the vote hasn't inspired mass public rallies or viral social media campaigns outside of Spain, it did prompt small demonstrations in Scotland, where many dream of obtaining independence from the United Kingdom. "It's a problem of respecting Spanish laws that Spaniards have to resolve".
Across Europe, people are watching Catalonia's independence referendum closely and nervously - but quietly.
However, it was downplayed by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who offered no concessions to their demand for a legal vote. "It's an evolution that no European government can avoid", Jan Peumans, speaker of Belgium's Flanders regional parliament, said.
However, those who already have the app installed, can still use it for finding polling stations.
Catalonia is a wealthy region within Spain with its own language and culture.
By Saturday noon, the regional police had visited 1,300 voting stations around Catalonia, and 163 of them were occupied by activists, according to data offered by the central government to Efe news agency.
In an interview with the Associated Press on Saturday, Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said: "What they are pushing is not democracy".
Others said they would not enter a building illegally - or did not want to walk through a phalanx of police officers in riot gear.
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