Catalan President Quim Torra has released a statement stating that yellow ribbons will be removed from the façade of the government headquarters in Barcelona and other public buildings under the executive.
This follows a recommendation by the Catalan ombudsman that the symbols be ‘exceptionally’ removed ‘during the electoral campaign’. This, following a request by Quim Torra on Tuesday for the institution to weigh in, when he pledged to follow any recommendations given.
‘This is a temporary measure,’ proclaimed the ombudsman in a statement, which ‘should only be valid during the electoral period’ lasting until the Spanish elections on 28 April (with the last day of campaigning being 26th).
They clarified that ‘outside of the exceptionality of the electoral period,’ it ‘maintains the same criterion’ as shared in September 2018: positioning itself ‘against limiting the exercise of freedom of expression in a public space.’
The statement comes after the Spanish Electoral Authority ordered all ‘partisan’ symbols (referring to yellow ribbons in support of jailed and exiled pro-independence leaders and the ‘estelada’ Catalan independence flag) be removed from public buildings, following a complaint made by the unionist Ciudadanos (Cs) party.
The Spanish Electoral Authority issued a 48-hour deadline to the president to remove the yellow ribbons from government buildings on 11 March, which he ultimately defied. This was then followed by a similar order for the Barcelona mayor Ada Colau to do the same, which was followed, and then a second order to Torra.
On Tuesday, Catalan government spokesperson Elsa Artadi called into question the impartiality of the Electoral Authority, as two of its members are also judges presiding over the Catalan trial, the legal proceedings against some of the individuals the yellow ribbons stand in solidarity with.