Students protest in Barcelona on Thursday, October 17, in continuation of protests over the jailing of separatist Catalan leaders kicking-off a two-day strike while thousands more press on with a long cross-country march towards Barcelona. Around 25,000 striking students and their supporters took part in a midday rally outside of Barcelona city hall, according to municipal police.

READ MORE: The president of Spain's Catalonia region pledged Thursday to push for a new vote on secession, despite the fallout from a failed 2017 independence bid that sparked the country's worst political crisis in decades.

"If they condemn us to 100 years of prison for putting out the ballot boxes for a vote on self-determination, then the answer is clear: we must do the same again," Catalan president Quim Torra told the regional parliament.

He was referring to the collective number of years of prison imposed on nine separatist leaders for their role in the 2017 crisis, which involved a referendum banned by Madrid and a short-lived declaration of independence.

Announced Monday morning, the verdict has sparked three days of mass protests which have turned increasingly violent with separatist activists engaged in nighttime clashes in Barcelona and elsewhere.

"We all know the difficulties we face through repression and fear. But we must push forward and not allow ourselves to be intimidated by threats and bans," said the Catalan leader, who took over as regional president in May 2018.

In his address, Torra reiterated his condemnation of the violence that he blamed on "provocateurs and agitators" whom he said should be "isolated and kept away" from the ongoing mass protests over Monday's verdict.

LINK: https://www.voanews.com/europe/catalan-leader-pledges-work-fresh-indepen...

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