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Alan Collins Rosell — Gillingham = _— Rehman Chishti MP _,'__—— House of Commons London SWIAOAA 16 October 2019 Dear Mr Chishti, Re: Early Day Motions #25 and #26 | am writing this open letter to you as my member of parliament to urge you to sign early day motions #25 and #26 in support of democracy, justice and human rights in Spain. You stated in the House of Commons during the debate on our country’s place in the world on 15 October 2019 that “the United Kingdom always advocates for democracy around the world”, yet despite this assertion the silence from our government on the grave situation in Catalonia has been deafening. Only the day before, politicians and leaders of civil society organisations were sentenced to between nine and 13 years for pursuing a peaceful and democratic, resolution to a legitimate political question. | appreciate you might not have been present in the House to hear the debate on the urgent question regarding the sentence handed down by the Spanish supreme court, secured by the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia Hywel Williams MP, and if so 1 would Urge you to read the exchange in Hansard (volume 666 at colurnn 158) to see for yourself the many arguments put forward by experienced and rightly concerned parliamentarians. After all, if a political question can be brazenly criminalised in Spain without so much as a whimper of support from our government or the European institutions, could the same thing happen here? Could you, for example, be put on trial for defending the outcome of the Brexit referendum or supporting individuals such as Asia Bibi? | would sincerely hope not, but the precedent being set in a fellow European country is deeply concerning. When governments resort to using judicial means to settle political questions, as the Spanish governments of Pedro Sénchez and Mariano Rajoy before him have done in relation to Catalonia, rather than sitting down to negotiate freely and without prejudice, the outcome forall involved can never be positive, During the urgent question referenced above, your colleague in the House Sir Desmond Swayne rightly said that the sentence was “shocking, horrifying and a reminder of a former Spanish regime”. Had such a sentence been handed down by a regime such as Iran, North Korea or Turkey, toname but a few, the government would justifiably be expressing its outrage at aclear violation of human rights, yet the response to Mr Williams’ question from the minister for Europe was nothing short of pathetic. Instead, it fell to members of the opposition, up to and including the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to stand up for the democratic values and fundamental rights which we as a nation once purported to support and defend around the world. Members of the APPG on Catalonia have tabled two early day motions in relation to the sentence handed down by the Spanish supreme court, together with the indiscriminate violence meted out by the Spanish police against peaceful protesters. EDM #25 expresses concern at the supreme court’s sentence and calls for the government of Spain to enter into meaningful dialogue with the government of Catalonia, while EDM #26 calls for a procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union against Spain “on the grounds that there is a clear risk that Spain has committed a serious and persistent breach of the EU's founding values of respect for freedom, democracy, justice and human rights’. As my member of parliament, | would urge you to represent me and many, many other supporters of democracy and human rights in Gillingham and Rainham, and the United Kingdom as a whole, and sign both of these early day motions as a clear statement that the actions of the government of Spain to date run contrary to every democratic value and fundamental human right we share as residents of a free and democratic nation ‘Thank you for taking the time to read and carefully consider my letter. This open letter will be posted on my blog at alancollinspdb.co.uk and my Twitter account @alancollinspdb, together with any response from you to the same, and | look forward to hearing from you shortly. Yours sincerely, Ala Collins Rosell LLB (Hons) Aen ns TT