Voters being beaten by state police, polling stations being raided and shut down, political leaders arrested.
It’s all the stuff you expect from a totalitarian regime or dictatorship.
But, no, this particular horror show was being played out in Catalonia all in the name of Spain.
That would be the Spain which is one of the leading lights of an enlightened Europe. Supposedly.
But that didn’t stop Madrid sending in armed and armoured police to beat and intimidate Catalans trying to vote for their own future.
Sure, Spanish courts ruled the independence referendum illegal … but in no way does that justify the jackboot tactics that played out to a watching audience.
Elderly people battered and bloodied, boots and fists flying at people who just wanted to vote, rubber bullets fired into crowds.
Even firefighters who tried to form a human shield between the thuggish cops and the innocent people were subjected to a hail of baton blows.
It was a disgusting display and yet for the most part EU leaders – and certainly the UK – have been looking the other way.
Thank goodness then that our Scottish political leaders have been quick to condemn the violence and call for restraint.
That’s what you do when people are being brutalised by their own government. Without hesitation or qualification.
What happens now in Catalonia, as the Catalan government says it has won the case for independence, is anyone’s guess. The only sure thing is that it won’t be pretty.
At least in Scotland we can take pride that our independence debate was carried out calmly and democratically. Sure, it got heated at times, but at no point were boots or bullets involved. And while many of us didn’t like the result, we respected the fact that the whole debate energised and engaged the Scottish public in a way never seen before.
So when we have that discussion again – and yes we will at some point – we can be sure that it will be done in the same rational, peaceful way.
But that’s for another day.
For now, we should all do our bit for democracy by decrying the heavy-handed tactics in Spain that stands as a stain on that great nation’s reputation.