Spanish riot police are aggressively suppressing a self-determination referendum on independence for Catalonia, which Madrid says “runs counter to the goals and ideals of the European Union”.

The Catalans, who have their own regional government based in Barcelona, have a troubled relationship with Spain, which violently stripped away their autonomy and attempted to stamp out their language during the Franco years, as well as settling hundreds of thousands of outsiders in the region to try and dilute its sense of national identity during the Franco years.

The region’s leaders organised a referendum on establishing Catalonia as an independent republic in 2014, which was approved with over 80 per cent of the votes cast — but Spain, backed by the European Union, refused to recognise it.

Nevertheless, the Catalan parliament resolved to secede from Spain in November 2015, and is holding a referendum today which — if successful — will see the region declare independence within 48 hours.

The Spanish authorities have declared the vote illegal, and are going to great lengths to disrupt and dismantle it.

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