Today, Plataforma per la Llengua launched the campaign "No more anti-Catalanism: don't just let it go". The Catalan-language NGO reported that it has received over 155 complaints of serious linguistic discrimination by the Public Administration, 23 of which have occurred since the start of this year, but it has made it clear that this is only the tip of the iceberg, as only a small percentage of such discrimination is actually reported. "We want to say that enough is enough: no more anti-Catalanism, no more discriminating against us and no more attacking us for the simple fact of speaking our language. This is not a mere anecdote. This is the structural situation of a Spanish State which repeatedly mistreats us because we speak differently", explained Òscar Escuder, President of Plataforma per la Llengua.
"Serious linguistic discrimination is being refused a service for the simple fact of speaking in Catalan. It's when you are insulted, humiliated, harassed, threatened or even physically attacked, just for speaking in Catalan", explained Escuder. "When you say it like that it sounds surreal, but it's an all-too-common occurrence". Plataforma per la Llengua wants to make it clear that linguistic discrimination is not exaggerated - it happens, it has consequences and the people involved have names. To demonstrate this, two victims took part in the launch, explaining their cases first-hand. One of the cases is that of Xavier Casanovas, a university professor who was fined 601 euros for having spoken in Catalan to a Spanish National Police officer at passport control at Barcelona's El Prat airport, and having refused to change language after being rudely demanded to do so by the officer. The officer even threatened him by saying "I know where you live". The other case is that of 69-year-old Cristina Brullet, who explained how she was verbally abused, and threatened with handcuffs, for speaking in Catalan to a Spanish National Police officer when she went to renew her passport at the Carrer Balmes police station in Barcelona. The Catalan-language NGO has also launched a series of short videos based on real events to show the various areas in which such discrimination occurs: Public Administration, the Legal System and Business.
"What kind of democrat can defend these infringements of linguistic rights-these attacks for the mere fact of speaking an official, native language-as being minor, insignificant events?", asked Escuder. "No, these are not merely anecdotes. These are examples of anti-Catalanism, and are anti-statutory and anti-constitutional behaviour. Enough is enough".
Escuder also denounced the fact that linguistic discrimination is an anomaly in Europe. "It would be unthinkable in countries such as Switzerland, with 4 official languages, Finland, with a minority of Swedish speakers, and Belgium, with 3 official languages, that we would have to report this situation", he stated. "The case of the trials of the exiles in Brussels is a prime example of defending diversity and linguistic rights. There, lawyers for President Puigdemont and the ministers in exile were able to choose to have the legal proceedings in either French or Flemish. Why is this unthinkable here?"
In order to resolve this situation of discrimination and impunity, Plataforma per la Llengua will present an action plan to President Sánchez. Anyone wishing to do so can send letters to the Spanish Government, calling to act against this situation, on the website www.proudecatalanofobia.cat. "Linguistic discrimination can be eradicated. It is a core State problem and is the cause of structural linguistic supremacy - but this problem can be stamped out. Political will is needed", Escuder stated.
"President Sánchez has a great opportunity to show that his defence of a multilingual Spain is more than just words", explained Escuder. The Catalan-language NGO has explained to the Spanish government that an amendment to the Spanish Constitution is needed to make Catalan an official State language and to give speakers of the various State languages equal rights. The Organization asks Sánchez to urge his ministers to make all services available to citizens in Catalan-speaking territories in the Catalan language, and to approve by decree that the public entities of the Spanish Administration, particularly police stations, have signs reminding citizens that they have the right to speak in Catalan. "This can be done without support from the Spanish Parliament and no new budgets need to be approved: there are no excuses", explained Escuder.