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Activists occupying Catalan schools told to leave





  • Parents supporting the referendum have organised to occupy schools in region
  • This is so they can be used as polling stations in a banned independence vote 
  • But police have now given them a deadline to leave by 6am tomorrow morning
  • Comes after hundreds of tractors drove into Barcelona to protect voting points

By Ian Burns and Catherine Chapman For Mailonline

Published: 06:03 EDT, 30 September 2017 | Updated: 20:41 EDT, 30 September 2017

The Spanish ambassador to UK has warned of 'drama for Europe' if Catalan's independence vote goes forward, as thousands march in Barcelona over the 'illegal' independence referendum.

Carlos Bastarreche, the Spanish ambassador to UK has called the referendum a 'coup d'etat' explaining that an independence result will have a long lasting affect on European stability and reignite Scottish separatism.

The Spanish government considers the referendum illegal, the country's Constitutional Court having suspended it more than three weeks ago. 

But regional separatists have vowed to go ahead with balloting, occupying at least 160 schools throughout the weekend so that they can be used as polling stations for tomorrow's disputed vote. 

Scroll down for video 

A demonstrator shouts at a Mosso d'Esquadra, a Catalan regional policeman, in front of city hall during a demonstration in favor of a unified Spain
A demonstrator shouts at a Mosso d'Esquadra, a Catalan regional policeman, in front of city hall during a demonstration in favor of a unified Spain

A demonstrator shouts at a Mosso d'Esquadra, a Catalan regional policeman, in front of city hall during a demonstration in favor of a unified Spain

People gather inside of the Miquel Tarradell institute in Barcelona in one of the designated polling stations for the disputed referendum on independence from Spain tomorrow

People unfurl the Catalan pro-independence Estelada flag during a protest called by the organization 'Galicia with Catalonia' in Santiago de Compostela today 
People unfurl the Catalan pro-independence Estelada flag during a protest called by the organization 'Galicia with Catalonia' in Santiago de Compostela today 

People unfurl the Catalan pro-independence Estelada flag during a protest called by the organization 'Galicia with Catalonia' in Santiago de Compostela today 

The Spanish government considers the referendum illegal and the country's Constitutional Court has suspended it, but regional separatists have vowed to go ahead with balloting 
The Spanish government considers the referendum illegal and the country's Constitutional Court has suspended it, but regional separatists have vowed to go ahead with balloting 

The Spanish government considers the referendum illegal and the country's Constitutional Court has suspended it, but regional separatists have vowed to go ahead with balloting 

The Catalan police force are under orders to empty the buildings by Sunday at 6am.

Meanwhile thousands of Catalans are marching in downtown Barcelona and Madrid in defence of Spanish unity, demanding that Catalan leaders be sent to jail. 

Protesters wrapped in red and yellow - regional and national colours - chanting, 'Don't let them fool you, Catalonia is Spain', amid calls for regional president Carles Puigdemont to step down.

Mr Puigdemont, 54, openly favours the autonomous regions break from Spain, which is a crucial to contributor to the country's economy.

On Saturday Mr Puigdemont said he and his supporters would not 'give up' their rights, describing Madrid's attempts to ban the referendum as 'authoritarian repression' and 'the fall of democracy'.

In an interview with AFP he insisted that his government had 'everything in place so that everything takes place normally'. 

There are 5.3million registered voters but Mr Puigdemont has been criticized for not being able to explain what a Catalan independence would look like. 

In an interview with the Associated Press, Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis accused the Catalan government of trying to promote an exclusionary system that runs counter to the goals and ideals of the European Union.

Mr Dastis said the radical CUP party, which shores up Catalonia's separatist-minded government, was 'adopting Nazi-like attitudes by pointing at people that are against that referendum and encouraging others to harass them.' 

He defended the Spanish government's decision as 'totally justified' to deploy thousands of police reinforcements to Catalonia to prevent the vote. 

Catalan police officers report the activities organized by parents in a school at the Gracia neighbourhood in Barcelona today
Catalan police officers report the activities organized by parents in a school at the Gracia neighbourhood in Barcelona today

Catalan police officers report the activities organized by parents in a school at the Gracia neighbourhood in Barcelona today

Catalan police arrive at the Cervantes school in Barcelona 
Catalan police arrive at the Cervantes school in Barcelona 

Catalan police arrive at the Cervantes school in Barcelona 

Independence supporters, many wearing the colours of FC Barcelona - the region's successful football club - clung from the tractors in a loud, forceful show of strength, while the estelada was draped around dozens of supporters
Independence supporters, many wearing the colours of FC Barcelona - the region's successful football club - clung from the tractors in a loud, forceful show of strength, while the estelada was draped around dozens of supporters

Independence supporters, many wearing the colours of FC Barcelona - the region's successful football club - clung from the tractors in a loud, forceful show of strength, while the estelada was draped around dozens of supporters

Spanish national police vehicles enter the port of Barcelona. Hundreds of Spanish  police and civil guard reinforcements are housed in two ferries ahead of the referendum tomorrow 
Spanish national police vehicles enter the port of Barcelona. Hundreds of Spanish  police and civil guard reinforcements are housed in two ferries ahead of the referendum tomorrow 

Spanish national police vehicles enter the port of Barcelona. Hundreds of Spanish police and civil guard reinforcements are housed in two ferries ahead of the referendum tomorrow 

He said the CUP had put 'out posters with the faces of mayors who are not supporting the referendum' - comparing that the Nazis' use of posters and signs to single out the houses of Jews.

Dastis also criticized the use of children this weekend to occupy schools in Catalonia so that they can be used as polling stations. Parents and pupils were occupying the schools so police could not dismantle polling stations in them. 

The Spanish government has said that most potential voting stations for the banned Catalan referendum have now been closed.  

Parents supporting the referendum have organised to occupy schools throughout the weekend so they can be used as polling stations 
Parents supporting the referendum have organised to occupy schools throughout the weekend so they can be used as polling stations 

Parents supporting the referendum have organised to occupy schools throughout the weekend so they can be used as polling stations 

This morning, parents, children and activists started a day of activities after spending the night in schools across the region, which are designated as polling stations for the vote 
This morning, parents, children and activists started a day of activities after spending the night in schools across the region, which are designated as polling stations for the vote 

This morning, parents, children and activists started a day of activities after spending the night in schools across the region, which are designated as polling stations for the vote 

Separatists are pictured holding a demonstration in Barcelona on Thursday
Separatists are pictured holding a demonstration in Barcelona on Thursday

Separatists are pictured holding a demonstration in Barcelona on Thursday

Thousands of people gather at the final pro-independence rally at Plaza Espana last night ahead of Sunday's referendum vote  in Barcelona
Thousands of people gather at the final pro-independence rally at Plaza Espana last night ahead of Sunday's referendum vote  in Barcelona

Thousands of people gather at the final pro-independence rally at Plaza Espana last night ahead of Sunday's referendum vote in Barcelona

2.3 million people voted in a mock referendum in 2014, in which 80% favoured independence. 

Catalan National Assembly, the main civic group behind Catalonia's push for independence, says a turnout of 1million voters - less than a fifth of the electorate - would make the region's secession referendum an 'overwhelming success' given the Spanish government's efforts to stop the vote. 

The Catalan government has pledged to declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of Sunday if the 'yes' vote wins, no matter what the turnout is. 

Calls for secession have grown as austerity has risen. 

Around 4,000 state police from other regions have been deployed to prevent the vote and maintain security. They will join 5,000 state police based in the region and 17,000 local police, or Mossos d'Esquadra
Around 4,000 state police from other regions have been deployed to prevent the vote and maintain security. They will join 5,000 state police based in the region and 17,000 local police, or Mossos d'Esquadra

Around 4,000 state police from other regions have been deployed to prevent the vote and maintain security. They will join 5,000 state police based in the region and 17,000 local police, or Mossos d'Esquadra

More than 500 of the tractors rolled around the cities roundabout cheered on by hundreds more vocal supporters ahead of Sunday's vote
More than 500 of the tractors rolled around the cities roundabout cheered on by hundreds more vocal supporters ahead of Sunday's vote

More than 500 of the tractors rolled around the cities roundabout cheered on by hundreds more vocal supporters ahead of Sunday's vote

According to laws passed by local government, should Catalan leaders see a successful referendum vote, they may declare themselves independent from Spain within 48 hours
According to laws passed by local government, should Catalan leaders see a successful referendum vote, they may declare themselves independent from Spain within 48 hours

According to laws passed by local government, should Catalan leaders see a successful referendum vote, they may declare themselves independent from Spain within 48 hours

Catalonia's separatist leader Carles Puigdemont (pictured) has defended plans to stage a 'banned' referendum - despite being unable to explain how independence from Spain would work
Catalonia's separatist leader Carles Puigdemont (pictured) has defended plans to stage a 'banned' referendum - despite being unable to explain how independence from Spain would work

Catalonia's separatist leader Carles Puigdemont (pictured) has defended plans to stage a 'banned' referendum - despite being unable to explain how independence from Spain would work

Striking images capture the moment more than 500 tractors were driven into Barcelona for the Catalan independence referendum which has been banned by officials in Madrid
Striking images capture the moment more than 500 tractors were driven into Barcelona for the Catalan independence referendum which has been banned by officials in Madrid

Striking images capture the moment more than 500 tractors were driven into Barcelona for the Catalan independence referendum which has been banned by officials in Madrid

The north-eastern Spain has its own language and culture, and a high degree of autonomy, but it is not recognised as a separate nation by the Spanish state
The north-eastern Spain has its own language and culture, and a high degree of autonomy, but it is not recognised as a separate nation by the Spanish state

The north-eastern Spain has its own language and culture, and a high degree of autonomy, but it is not recognised as a separate nation by the Spanish state

People gather outside of the Collaso i Gil elementary school. The Catalan police force is under orders to empty the buildings by early Sunday. Officers have been directed to refrain from using violence to remove parents and students
People gather outside of the Collaso i Gil elementary school. The Catalan police force is under orders to empty the buildings by early Sunday. Officers have been directed to refrain from using violence to remove parents and students

People gather outside of the Collaso i Gil elementary school. The Catalan police force is under orders to empty the buildings by early Sunday. Officers have been directed to refrain from using violence to remove parents and students

Quim Roy, a father of two daughters in Barcelona, says police officers told the few dozen parents and children at the Congres-Indians primary school they can't display campaign materials in favor of the disputed referendum and must leave the premises by 6am tomorrow 
Quim Roy, a father of two daughters in Barcelona, says police officers told the few dozen parents and children at the Congres-Indians primary school they can't display campaign materials in favor of the disputed referendum and must leave the premises by 6am tomorrow 

Quim Roy, a father of two daughters in Barcelona, says police officers told the few dozen parents and children at the Congres-Indians primary school they can't display campaign materials in favor of the disputed referendum and must leave the premises by 6am tomorrow 

The EU's silence has been especially conspicuous since Catalan officials appealed to the bloc directly to mediate the dispute. Pictured: The Miquell Tarradell institute  
The EU's silence has been especially conspicuous since Catalan officials appealed to the bloc directly to mediate the dispute. Pictured: The Miquell Tarradell institute  

The EU's silence has been especially conspicuous since Catalan officials appealed to the bloc directly to mediate the dispute. Pictured: The Miquell Tarradell institute  

How the 17,000 regional officers respond to the vacate order is seen as key to the success or failure of the planned vote
How the 17,000 regional officers respond to the vacate order is seen as key to the success or failure of the planned vote

How the 17,000 regional officers respond to the vacate order is seen as key to the success or failure of the planned vote

The fight for Catalan independence 

More than 2,300 polling stations are ready for the Catalan independence referendum slated for Sunday but banned by Madrid, the regional separatist government said today.

Spokesman Jordi Turull told reporters there would be '2,315 polling stations all over the region' and more than 7,200 people involved in holding the referendum despite a crackdown by Madrid.

'A total of 5.3 million Catalans who have the right to vote are called to vote,' he said.

At the end of the press briefing, Turull, Catalan Vice-President Oriol Junqueras and Raul Romeva, in charge of foreign relations for the Catalan executive, unveiled a plastic ballot box with a regional government stamp on it.

Police have for days been seizing electoral items such as ballot papers as they follow orders to stop the referendum from taking place, after courts ruled it unconstitutional.

But they had failed to find any ballot boxes until Thursday, when police seized 100 from a warehouse in a Catalan town, although the company in charge alleged they were destined for internal elections at the FC Barcelona football club.

Over the past few days, judges and prosecutors have also ordered the closure of websites linked to the vote and the detention of key members of the team organising the referendum.

On Wednesday a judge ordered police to prevent public buildings from being used as polling stations. 


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Activists occupying Catalan schools told to leave
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