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    Spanish riot police shoots rubber bullet straight to people trying to reach a voting site at a school assigned to be a polling station by the Catalan government in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 1 Oct. 2017. Spanish riot police have forcefully removed a few hundred would-be voters from several polling stations in Barcelona.

    Madrid’s Violent Tactics See Catalan Independence Voters Switch Sides

    © AP Photo / Emilio Morenatti
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    Catalonia's Independence Referendum (118)

    The “dreadful” and “unjustified” violence meted out by heavily-armed troops on unarmed and peacefully assembled voters in Catalonia is causing locals to switch sides.

    A Catalonian government spokesman stated that over 840 people were injured, many seriously, as police loyal to Madrid used seemingly random and indiscriminate violence against peaceful independence referendum voters on Sunday.

    Spanish government security forces fired rubber bullets directly at peacefully assembled voters in Barcelona, and attacked the elderly and many people seated on the ground throughout Catalonia.

    Catalan regional government spokesman Jordi Turull noted that the unopposed violence applied to Catalan voters is the direct responsibility of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the country's Interior Minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, and has called for the resignation of both officials, according to APnews.com.

    The actions of the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard security troops displayed "a clear motivation to harm citizens," added Turull.

    Catalan President Carles Puigdemon declared that Madrid's violent use of batons and rubber bullets during the voting process displayed a "dreadful external image of Spain," cited by The Independent.

    "The unjustified, disproportionate and irresponsible violence of the Spanish state today has not only failed to stop Catalans' desire to vote but has helped to clarify all the doubts we had to resolve today," he added.

    International observers — part of a delegation of some 30 high-profile foreign nationals — invited by Catalan officials to document the voting process noted the violence with dismay.

    Israeli Parliament member and Catalan vote observer Ksenia Svetlova stated that she was astonished at the violence used by Spanish forces against peaceful and unarmed voters.

    Describing bleeding and injured voters at polling stations in Barcelona, Svetlova stated, "we did expect a normal democratic process. We knew that a lot of police were here but there should be a respect for the will of the people to vote, regardless of what you think of the referendum," cited by AP.

    Catalonia voters have been profoundly impacted by the violence, with many switching their support to the ‘Yes' vote for independence, in light of Madrid's violent tactics.

    One Barcelona local, waiting to vote, was thrown along with many others out of her place in line by heavily-armed Spanish National Police agents, who then smashed a school door down and grabbed ballot boxes before quickly retreating to nearly armored vehicles.

    "I was always against independence but what the Spanish state is doing is making me change my mind," the voter stated, cited by APnews.com.

    "The National Police and Civil Guard are treating us like criminals. I was most likely going to vote "No" until the National Police sent me flying. Now I will try to vote Yes."

    Catalonia's Independence Referendum (118)


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    referendum, vote, independence, Spanish Civil Guard, Juan Ignacio Zoido, Carles Puigdemont, Mariano Rajoy, Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain
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