Democratic Tsunami

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Democratic Tsunami
Formationc. August 2019
Region served
Unknown, under investigation by Spanish Authorities

Democratic Tsunami (Catalan: Tsunami Democràtic, pronounced [su.nə.mi də.muˈkɾa.tik]) is a Catalan protest group advocating a self-determination referendum in Catalonia,[4] formed and organized in the lead up to the final judgement on the Trial of the Catalonia independence leaders. It organizes supporters of the Catalan independence movement through the use of social media, apps and other online resources.[5][6] It used a 'bespoke' Android app, along with a Telegram account with over 410,000 followers in order to mobilize and organize demonstrations during the 2019 Catalan protests.[7][5] Distributed outside of the official market for Android apps, the application (making use of overseas servers) circumvents the European legislation for data protection in regards of geolocalization.[8]


As stated in press notes and interviews,[1][2][4] their objectives are the freedom of prisoners, exiles and reprisals; defense of fundamental rights and the self-determination of Catalonia. In a statement following the judgment of the trial of the Catalonia independence leaders, read by Pep Guardiola, they defended the rights of assembly and demonstration, freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial. They also held an independence referendum similar to that of Quebec or Scotland, and called on the international community to position itself for a "conflict resolution based on dialogue and respect."

They defend civil disobedience and nonviolence.



14 October, Barcelona airport Terminal 1 during the demonstration

In one of its first actions, the group managed to organize a large protest at Barcelona Airport, which led to a major disruption and the cancellation of over 100 flights.[5][6]

The group endorses nonviolence and has supported occupation of government buildings and other protest acts, which were condemned by the Spanish government. The group's actions appear to mimic those of the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests, which also occupied a key airport. The group also used similar language to the Hong Kong Protesters, urging protesters to "add up like drops of water".[9]

The group managed to assert itself as one of the main organizers of the 2019 Catalan Protests.[10]

Origin and identity[edit]

The group's identity is unknown as none of the group's members has publicly shown their identity as of October 2019. The group however insists that it has no links to other pro-independence groups or political parties in Catalonia, stating that its name was derived from an expression used by pardoned Catalan independence leader Jordi Cuixart. It added that it followed a doctrine of strict non-violence, instead advocating for "mass civil disobedience".[11]

Swiss publication Le Temps, along with the Spanish Press, alleged that the movement was founded in late August 2019 after a meeting in the Geneva countryside. It was allegedly attended by leading Catalan independence leaders, including Catalan President Quim Torra and his predecessor Carles Puigdemont, as well as two Swiss politicians which supported the idea of Catalan independence.[12] The Associated Press, on the other hand, pegged the group's creation under similar conditions in July 2019 with the endorsement of top pro-independence officials.[13]

Protest app[edit]

The movement created a mobile app, which was released as a sideload for devices running Android. The app organizes and mobilizes small, localized groups of supporters to carry out protest acts across the entire territory of Catalonia. It allows the Democratic Tsunami to monitor and give directions to individual protesters or groups of protesters, while claiming that the user's location is approximated and obfuscated to avoid police tracking. It also required the user to activate it by scanning a QR code, a measure intended to limit activation to "stages" in order to avoid infiltration by government authorities. For the same reason, users are allowed to invite only one other person to the app, and even successfully invited and activated users can only see protests within their immediate vicinity. The group announced that it had 15,000 successful QR code activations as of 17 October, 3 days after the beginning of the protests.[5][14][13]

Prosecution by the Spanish Government[edit]

On 18 October 2019, a Spanish Judge ordered the closure of several web pages belonging to the group. The group immediately migrated it's homepage to a new address. It later published instructions on how to "avoid Spanish censorship". Spain's interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska stated that the Spanish Authorities had launched an investigation aiming to discover the individuals behind the group.[15] The Spanish Government was reportedly looking into whether or not Carles Puigdemont was behind the group. The group refused to comment on the allegation, while Puigdemont denied it and stated that he did not know who the organizers were.[16]

Spain sent a takedown request to GitHub, demanding the Tsunami Democràtic app to be removed and defining the organization "as a criminal organization driving people to commit terrorist attacks". GitHub complied but published the takedown request in one of their public repositories.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Dies de Tsunami (Interview)". CCMA, TV3 (Catalan public TV). Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Comunicat de Tsunami Democràtic sobre les accions previstes el 9N i de l'11 al 13 de novembre. (Press note)". Twitter. Tsunami Democratic account. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Guardiola speaks on behalf of Catalan protest platform: "Spain, sit down and talk"". 14 October 2019. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Guardiola speaks on behalf of Catalan protest platform: "Spain, sit down and talk"". 14 October 2019. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "Catalan separatists have tooled up with a decentralized app for civil disobedience". TechCrunch. Retrieved 18 October 2019.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b "Protests erupt across Catalonia against Supreme Court verdict on separatists". El País. 14 October 2019. ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  7. ^ "In Pictures: Catalan protesters march on Barcelona airport after jail verdicts for separatists". 14 October 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  8. ^ Bracero, Francec (31 October 2019). "Oleada de incautos". La Vanguardia.
  9. ^ Minder, Raphael (18 October 2019). "Catalonia Protesters, Slipping the Reins of Jailed Leaders, Grow More Radicalized". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  10. ^ Badcock, James; Terol, Alan Ruiz (14 October 2019). "Chaos at Barcelona airport as protesters clash with police after independence leaders jailed". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  11. ^ Little, Oliver. "What is Tsunami Democràtic?". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  12. ^, Belén Couceiro (17 October 2019). "Catalonia's Democratic Tsunami movement – born in Geneva?". SWI Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Riots darken Catalan separatist dream of peaceful secession". AP NEWS. 17 October 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Catalan Protesters Are Told to Avoid IPhone, Stick to Android". 17 October 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Spanish judge orders closure of Catalan protest group website". Reuters. 18 October 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  16. ^ "Spain closes Catalan protest group website and probes riots". Reuters. 18 October 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  17. ^ Lomas, Natasha (30 October 2019). "Github removes Tsunami Democràtic's APK after a takedown order from Spain". Techcrunch. Retrieved 6 December 2019.