Pro-Independence marchers back on the streets of Barcelona

Pro-Independence marchers back on the streets of Barcelona

Pro-Independence marchers back on the streets of Barcelona

Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in downtown Barcelona on Sunday to demand the release of high-profile secessionist Catalan leaders being held in pre-trial detention.

Under the slogan, 'For the rights and freedoms, for democracy and cohesion, we want them at home!, the peaceful protest was called by the Bureau for Democracy and Coexistence, which brings together political, union, social, sports and cultural entities.

The demonstration was organized by two pro-independence grassroots groups, the National Catalan Assembly and Omnium, whose presidents are among the nine separatists in prison awaiting trial for their role in last year's failed breakaway bid by the northeastern Spanish region.

The protest was backed by the Catalan branches of Spain's two largest trade unions, the CCOO and the UGT, sparking unease among union members who oppose independence.

"The majority of Catalans, no matter the position, agree jail is not justified", " even said a marriage leader, " Camil Ros. "What we as labour unions are asking for now is dialogue".

While conceding that the arrests of prominent Catalan leaders on possible charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds had left the independence movement "decapitated", he said the setback was only temporary.

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Around 350,000 demonstrators clogged several main city arteries waving flags and wearing yellow in support of separatist leaders jailed for their role in the region's banned drive to split from Spain a year ago.

In Barcelona, the supporters of the March for the independence of the region require the government to stop the repression and persecution of Catalan politicians.

The Supreme Court of Spain prosecuted them for the crimes of rebellion and / or embezzlement of public funds for their role in holding a referendum on self-determination, which led to a unilateral declaration of independence on 27 October.

Separatist lawmakers defied court orders and held an ad-hoc referendum on independence in October.

Meanwhile in Scotland, a St Andrews academic facing extradition to Spain on charges of causing widespread violence against police. A number of activists and several ministers of the former Catalan government were arrested, while several others managed to leave Spain. Spain say the vote was illegal.

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