Tens of thousands march in favour of Catalan language in the Balearic Islands

Protesters angry at decree that will remove a requirement to be able to speak Catalan for those working at the public sector · The demonstration's manifesto says that the Balearic government “undermines” the right of islanders to speak Catalan · A pensioner on hunger strike for almost one month

Tens of thousands yesterday poured into the streets of Mallorca's capital Palma to show rejection of linguistic policies by the government of the Balearic Islands, led by José Ramón Bauzá, member of the Spanish conservative Popular Party (PP). Obra Cultural Balear (OCB), one of the associations that called to demonstrate, said that 50,000 people had occupied downtown Palma, while local police lowered the figure to 18,000.

The demonstration was held under the motto "Sí a la nostra llengua" ("Yes to our language", in Catalan) and was triggered by the decision of Bauzá's government to remove the requirement to be able to speak Catalan for those people working at the public sector. Balearic organizations for the language consider that this is an unacceptable attack against Catalan. The move, they argue, will further consolidate the position of Spanish as the dominant language of the islands.

The demonstration's manifesto argues that Bauzá's decision "breaks the political and social consensus" on Catalan, "undermines the right" of the islanders to "speak in their own language whenever they want" and "eliminates the right of non-Catalan speaking people to learn the own language of the Balearic Islands".

Pensioner in hunger strike for Catalan

The demonstrators also showed their support to Jaume Bonet (Facebook profile here), a 64 years old pensioner who has been on hunger strike already for a month now. Bonet belongs to Jubilats per Mallorca (Retired People for Majorca, in Catalan), an association fighting for Catalan language and Majorcan identity. Another member of the organization, Tomeu Amengual, has annouced that he will go on hunger strike if Bonet gets exhausted.