40 stirring images of Catalonia's independence referendum – and Spain's police crackdown

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria praised the actions of Spanish police in cracking down on Catalonia's independence referendum. "They have fulfilled the orders of justice. They have acted professionally and in a proportional and proportionate manner. The aim of their actions were not people but electoral material. They always wanted to protect rights and freedoms," she told reporters.

However, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont accused Spain of using "irresponsible and unjustified" violence. The batons, rubber bullets and violence used by Spanish police to prevent voting in what Spanish authorities have said was an illegal referendum had shown a "dreadful external image of Spain", he said.

IBTimes UK presents 40 powerful images of Catalonians voting for self-determination, and Spain's attempts to stop them doing so.

Advertisement
A man faces off Spanish Civil Guards outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, a village in Girona province, where Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was due to voteJuan Medina/Reuters
A man wearing a shirt with an Estelada (Catalan separatist flag) and holding carnations faces off with a Spanish Civil Guard officer outside a polling station in Sant Julia de Ramis, a village in the Girona areaAlbert Gea/Reuters
A man dressed in the Catalonian flag and holding up pink carnations gives the thumbs-up as police move in on the crowds gathered outside a polling station in Sant Julia de RamisDavid Ramos/Getty Images
Firefighters try to keep Spanish Civil Guard officers and members of the public apart outside a polling station in San Julia de RamisLluis Gene/AFP
Scuffles break out as Spanish Civil Guard officers force their way through a crowd and into a polling station, where Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was supposed to vote, in Sant Julia de RamisJuan Medina/Reuters
An elderly woman is removed by police at a polling station in Sant Julia de Ramis where the Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont was due to voteDavid Ramos/Getty Images
A woman speaks to a Spanish Civil Guard officer outside a polling station in Sant Julia de RamisLluis Gene/AFP
Members of the public remonstrate with police as they move in on the crowds gathered a polling station in Sant Julia de RamisDavid Ramos/Getty Images
The police as they move in on crowds who had gathered outside a polling station in Sant Julia de Ramis to black them from stopping the opening and intended voting in the referendumDavid Ramos/Getty Images
Police take hold of a man with a child holding a red carnation outside a polling station in Sant Julia de RamisDavid Ramos/Getty Images
Guardia Civil smash the door of a polling station in Sant Julia de Ramis, a village in the province of GironaLluis Gene/AFP
Spanish Civil Guard officers smash the door of a polling station in Sant Julia de Ramis, where Catalan president was supposed to voteLluis Gene/AFP
Members of a family comfort each other after failing to vote in the referendum because the Spanish police closed their polling station in Sant Julia de RamisDavid Ramos/Getty Images
Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont speaks to the media after not being allowed to vote in the referendum because the Spanish police closed his polling station in Sant Julia de RamisDavid Ramos/Getty Images
Spanish police clash with people outside a polling station in TarragonaDavid Gonzales/Reuters
Spanish police remove a man from a polling station for the banned independence referendum in TarragonaDavid Gonzales/Reuters
A man injured during clashes with Spanish police lies on the pavement outside a polling station in TarragonaDavid Gonzales/Reuters
Spanish police carry away confiscated ballot boxes after entering a polling station in TarragonaDavid Gonzales/Reuters
People applaud as a man leaves a polling station after casting his vote in BarcelonaJosep Lago/AFP
A woman celebrates outside a polling station after casting her vote in BarcelonaJosep Lago/AFP
A voter wearing a pair of boots decorated with the Estelada (Catalan separatist flag) waits outside a polling station in BarcelonaYves Herman/Reuters
Players of FC Barcelona pose for a team photo wearing shirts in the colours of the Catalan flag, prior to kickoff in their La Liga match against Las Palmas, which was played to an empty Camp Nou stadium in BarcelonaAlex Caparros/Getty Images
Woman show off their completed ballot papers at a polling station in BarcelonaJose Jordan/AFP
A woman kisses a ballot paper before putting it into the ballot box at a polling station in BarcelonaYves Herman/Reuters
A woman holding a baby casts her ballot at a school in BarcelonaChris McGrath/Getty Images
A woman reacts as she leaves a polling station after casting her vote in BarcelonaEloy Alonso/Reuters
People applaud as a man in wheelchair leaves a polling station after voting at a polling station in BarcelonaJosep Lago/AFP
People help a woman as she leaves after voting at the Concepcio School in BarcelonaPau Barrena/AFP
People queue outside a polling station in BarcelonaJosep Lago/AFP
A man stands in front of police trucks as they move in on a polling station at a school in BarcelonaChris McGrath/Getty Images
Two girls sit on the pavement after the arrival of Spanish police officers at a polling station in BarcelonaPau Barrena/AFP
Crowds gather to cast their ballot in the referendum at a school in BarcelonaChris McGrath/Getty Images
People are locked out of a polling station at a school in BarcelonaChris McGrath/Getty Images
Protesters perform a fascist salute during a demonstration called by far-right groups against the Catalonian independence referendum in BarcelonaPau Barrena/AFP
People hold up four fingers representing the four stripes of the Catalan flag while they wait to cast their votes at a school in BarcelonaChris McGrath/Getty Images
Spanish Civil Guard officers remove demonstrators outside a polling station in BarcelonaSusana Vera/Reuters
People clash with Spanish police officers outside the Ramon Llull polling station in BarcelonaFabio Bucciarelli/AFP
A man shouts and gestures at Spanish police officers outside the Ramon Llull polling station in BarcelonaFabio Bucciarelli/AFP
People help a man injured by a rubber bullet fired by Spanish police officers outside the Ramon Llull polling station in BarcelonaFabio Bucciarelli/AFP
An injured woman is treated on a staircase after clashes at a polling station, in BarcelonaXavier Lesan/Reuters

Spanish riot police burst into polling stations across Catalonia, confiscating ballot boxes and voting papers to try to halt the banned referendum on a split from Spain. Police broke down doors to force entry into voting stations as defiant Catalans shouted "Out with the occupying forces!" and sang the region's anthem. In one incident in Barcelona, police fired rubber bullets.

Catalan officials said 465 people had been injured, some critically, in the police crackdown. Officers in riot gear hit people with batons and forcibly removed would-be voters, including women and the elderly, from polling stations. The referendum, declared illegal by Spain's central government, has thrown the country into its worst constitutional crisis since the Fascist dictatorship of General Franco and deepened a centuries-old rift between Madrid and Barcelona.

© Copyright 2017 IBTimes Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.