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Catalonia urges European Union intervention in independence vote dispute

Catalonia urges European Union intervention in independence vote disputeā€

A group of residents in Algeciras, a port city in the south of Spain, came out to show their support and waved Spanish flags for a unit of Guardia Civil officers leaving their station en route to Catalonia.

Authorities in Catalonia aim to ensure that a disputed referendum on independence from Spain will take place peacefully on Sunday despite a crackdown on the vote by the national government, the region's interior minister said. The force's loyalty has been torn between the central and regional governments.

Barcelona's mayor Ada Colau on September 28 called for European Union mediation in the standoff over Catalonia's planned independence referendum in an opinion piece in Britain's Guardian daily.

Despite legal action orchestrated by Madrid, Spain's capital and seat of power, separatist officials in Catalonia, including regional president Carles Puigdemont, have pushed ahead with plans to hold the referendum on October 1.

Reporters Without Borders said in a report published Thursday that pressure by the Catalan government and social media harassment by "hooligans " of the pro-independence movement has created a suffocating atmosphere for journalists covering the referendum.

"We call on the European Union institutions (.) to stand for the values and principles (of the European Union treaty)", Raul Romeva told a news conference in Brussels.

An worldwide media watchdog, meanwhile, rebuked the Catalan pro-independence movement for placing undue pressure on journalists to present its side of the dispute.

Romeva accused the Spanish government of a "brutal crackdown" on Catalan officials to try to prevent Sunday's referendum, which Spain considers to be illegal, and that it's "generated an unprecedented level of shock".

"The Spanish government has allowed the Catalan conflict to escalate from an internal dispute to a European conflict", she said, adding that Europe could not be "passive" over the Catalan issue. He said he doesn't expect violence on the day of the ballot.



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