Here’s a transcript of my speech on Saturday (in my capacity as Chair of YesCaerdydd) at the Catalunya solidarity rally in Cardiff, organised by YesCymru. I was honoured to speak alongside Gwynoro Jones former AM, Agit Ceviz, Jill Evans MEP, and Cerith Griffiths from the Welsh Fire Brigades Union. Thanks to those who came to the rally in their hundreds, to Sergi Marcen Chief Delegate of the Government of Catalonia to the UK for the statement he provided, and to Geraint Rhys for his musical accompaniment!
‘Cyfeillion, croeso i Gaerdydd – rydw i’n gwybod mae llawer ohonoch wedi teithio yn bell i fod yma i sefyll ochr yn ochr gyda Catalonia a gwledydd eraill sydd yn wneybu trais a herriau yn erbyn democratiaeth.
Diolch am ddod.
I have two versions of this speech. One that I wrote on Wednesday , because I like to plan ahead, and one that I wrote yesterday…. after Catalonia became an independent Nation Sate.
**Pause for massive cheers from crowd**
We are proud to be with you celebrating your independence today! You have exercised your democratic right as free citizens, and your legitimacy in doing so should be recognised by other countries, including Wales.
When I joined YesCymru, a little under 18 months ago, I did it as a free citizen, exercising my democratic right to add my voice to a fast growing, agile and innovative movement. I stand here today, speaking with you in an act of peaceful protest and solidarity, because I, because we, have the right to do so.
These are rights that I value, that we all hold dear.
Rights that we must not for one moment take for granted.
We are caught in the cross point of a great many winds of change. Global movements are rising and falling, populism in many forms is on the rise, including fascism on many fronts. It’s not the time to turn a blind eye. It’s not the time to say – ‘that’s not our business, we must leave them to sort things out themselves’. Where we see violence, where we see repression, where we see the wielding of power to keep down those who aspire to have a voice, we must speak out.
That’s why I stand with oppressed people across the world. I stand with the Rohingya people in Myanmar. I stand with our Kurdish sisters and brothers, and I stand with our friends in Catalonia. That’s why we are all here today, with our flags and our voices to bear witness and to say that we see you, Jordi Sanchez. We hear you Jordi Cuixart. We are watching, we are listening. We are sharing your posts, Liz Castro and all those getting information out to the world.
We are here.
Whatever happens in the next days and weeks, as Spain prepares to take direct rule and deny the Catalonian Republic, we will stand by the Catalonian people.
And we in Wales will hold our leaders to account. Because whilst some international leaders have spoken out, and done so without hesitation, so many have not. We, YesCymru, on behalf of the growing movement of grass roots groups right across Wales and beyond, call on our First Mininster Carwyn Jones, and we call on our Government in Wales, to condemn the use of violence and the taking of political prisoners in Catalonia. These are not the actions of a just, law abiding administration that honours the rights of it’s citizens, and we must call it out.
We also call on you to recognise the democratic Republic of Catalonia.
We must not let violence, repression and the imposition of direct rule set a precedent in Europe. We must not send the message that it is OK to beat people as they exercise their vote. The message that OK for armed police to use force against unarmed civilians holding their arms in the air in peace.
These means do not justify the ends.
At YesCymru Caerdydd, of which I am honoured to be Chair Person, we have a vision, a vision of what a better Wales might be like. Actually we have many visions and hopes and dreams, as many as there are people in our movement, and that number grows each day. But all of these have one thing in common, they are based on a desire for self-determination, a desire to be the best that we can be, and to achieve this via a process of peaceful, community led, democratic Nation building. This is our right, and no one can take it away from us. No one can stop us from dreaming, from imagining and then going about creating a better Wales. A more prosperous, equal, fairer, healthier, greener Wales.
If we want it to be so, we are free to make it happen, each and every one of us.
We will do it together, and we will begin by defending the right of other Stateless Nations to make their own case. To make their case, as have our Catalonian cousins, peacefully at the ballot box. To do so without fear of violence in the form of state sponsored baton, or through the ransacking of constitutionally enshrined legislative powers.
The people of Catalonia have chosen freedom and self-determination.
That is their decision and theirs alone to make. Just as, when the time is right, we the people of Wales will take the same decision, for ourselves.
This is Wales’ moment to stand by you Catalonia. We stand by you, and we defend your rights.
We stand by you, and amplify your voice.
We stand by you in solidarity, and we celebrate your independence.
To get involved in YesCymru, the exciting grass-roots (and non-party-political) movement that is taking off right now across Wales you can join here.
If you are interested in starting a YesCymru group in your local community, you can get in touch for advice and support on how to go about it by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org