ACADEMICS across the UK have condemned the "political repression" of the Spanish Government in the wake of the referendum on Catalonian independence.

More than 80 professors and staff members working at Universities across the country have signed an open letter calling on the UK government and devolved administrations to put pressure on the Spanish authorities to resolve the situation peacefully.

They have also called for the release of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, leaders of the Catalan grassroots organisations Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural, who have been detained in a sedition investigation and the withdrawal of the Guardia Civil, the Spanish National Police and other paramilitary forces from Catalonia.

HeraldScotland: Demonstrations continue across CataloniaDemonstrations continue across Catalonia

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The letter states: "We are appalled at the lack of response by the international community to Spain’s use of violence and human rights violations. As the international NGO Human Rights Watch has noted, Spanish police engaged in excessive force and violence against demonstrators.

"We also write to express our outrage at the arrest of two activists Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez of the Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural respectively. We are profoundly worried that this is the first step in a major escalation of repression in Catalonia."

The statement was circulated by Professor David Whyte of the University of Liverpool, who said that "dark forces" were currently at work in Spain.

He said: "We come from a very wide range of subject backgrounds. But the common position is there are serious repressions of Human Rights, especially when you see in 21st century Europe two people jailed for sedition simply for organising a referendum.

"Our concern is that to people who are trying to express their democratic rights. To use the full force of the law of the law against people who are trying to exercise their rights is quite unacceptable in this day and age.

"We want our governments to say that this is simply unacceptable. This is a level of political repression we have not seen in Europe in decades."

Dr Niall Whelehan, a hsitory lecturer at the University of Strathclyde, added: "I was shocked at the level of police brutality against people trying to cast a vote in Catalonia.

"I’m also concerned that two people have been imprisoned without trial for promoting independence.

"There are clearly other ways to resolve the impasse surrounding the legality of the referendum."

Tensions remain high in Spain weeks after the October 1st referendum, which Spain's top court ruled was unconstitutional.

Prime minister Mariano Rajoy has put in place moves to sack Catalonia's government and curtail the regional parliament's powers following the vote, which was marred by violence.

Pictures were beamed round the world of riot police disrupting polling booths and beating people who had occupied buildings to ensure the poll went ahead.

READ MORE: Madrid moves to take control of Catalonia

HeraldScotland: Violence flared during the vote Violence flared during the vote