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(en) Britain, Manchester, Roma solidarity demo at the Italian Consulate on 19 September report back

Date Sun, 21 Sep 2008 13:15:29 +0300



"Join the Anarchist Federation, Manchester No Borders and Roma groups for a
solidarity demo against repression of Roma in Italy, taking place in Manchester,
Britain in September." ---- Over 60 protesters picketed the Italian consulate in
Manchester today, in a demonstration against the worst persecution in Italy
since the fascist era. The protest, called by the Anarchist Federation and No
Borders, saw both sides of the Ducie Street entrance to the consulate at 111
Picadilly picketed, with the picket extending down the street and onto
Picadilly, where both sides of the pavement were lined with demonstrators. 1000
leaflets detailing the persecution were distributed to interested passersby.

Text of the leaflet:

Stop Government attackS on roma people in italy

The bodies of the two Roma girls lie on the beach after drowning in the sea. The
ambulance did not arrive for three hours, so they were covered up and each-goers
continued their picnic.
This demonstration has been called by the Anarchist Federation and No
Borders in solidarity with Gypsy and Roma people in Italy. They are currently
facing the worst persecution since the Fascist era of the 1930s and 40s. We wish
to confront the representatives of the Italian state, which is behind this attack.

Government misinformation

The state is encouraging Italians to view Roma as illegal immigrants, as part of
a generalised right-wing response to migration into Italy from other EU
countries. Anarchists and No Borders activists believe anyone should be able to
settle wherever they want, but nonetheless this is deliberate misinformation by
the Italian government. Roma are not recent arrivals. Many have been settled
in Italy for 40 years and are Italian citizens. Those who have recently arrived
have done so as part of the wider process of perfectly legal and natural
economic migration within the EU. Some wish to travel, others wish to settle.
They should have the same legal protection as other EU citizens.

Attacks on Roma camps

Instead, state misinformation has fuelled right-wing attacks on traveller
camps. The attacks have been increasing since the election of Silvio
Berlusconi's Forza Italia party in April 2008 and his appointment of Roberto
Maroni, leader of the neo-fascist Northern League party, as his Minister of
the Interior. On 11 May Maroni remarked that "all Roma camps will have to
be dismantled right away, and the inhabitants will be either expelled or
imprisoned". Two days later a camp in Naples was set on fire by a gang of 60
racists. In northern regions in particular, pogroms led to the destruction of
Roma camps by fire on at least eight occasions. Not only has this not been
condemned by local politicians, it has been encouraged. Umberto Bossi of
the Northern League remarked, "People do what the state can't manage".

Racist discrimination

As well as the attacks on camps, misplaced social prejudice that all travellers
are criminals is being used to justify frightening new legal measures.
Gianfranco Fini, leader of the neo-fascist National Alliance party, remarked in
2007 that Roma considered theft to be "virtually legitimate and not
immoral". He also said that Roma men supported themselves through the
prostitution of their wives and by forcing their children to beg.

An extraordinary number of new powers have been granted to
national and local government to help deal with the Roma `problem', as it is
called in the alarmist legislation. They resemble powers usually reserved for
national emergencies in Italy. They allow the taking and storing of
information on the identity of each person in traveller camps, for example
photographs and fingerprints. The intention to fingerprint all Roma children
A Roma camp that was burned to the ground in July this year. The culprits are
suspected to want the land to construct apartments ­ this is a regular occurrence.

systematically, for their `safety', was also announced. This legislation has an
explicitly racial basis and breaches various international guidelines. It is to
allow the authorities to identify and monitor Roma, as Italy's new
Commissioner for Roma, Carlo Mosca put it in June this year.

This attitude has become so `normal' that even the Red Cross are
helping the state gather data that it has no right to collect from Roma.
Recently it allowed the racist Flavio Tosi to avoid conviction for racial
discrimination. He won an appeal to the highest Italian court because, as the
court put it, `all Gypsies are thieves'. Tosi has since become mayor of Verona.
In contrast, Roma are routinely beaten by police and accused and arrested for
crimes without evidence. They are convicted in the public mind whatever the
outcome in court.

Indifference

In this sort of atmosphere an incident took place that shocked Europe. When
two Roma girls drowned on an Italian beach, holidaymakers continued
sunbathing and picnicking as though nothing significant had taken place.
This was next to the children's corpses, merely covered by a blanket, over
which a third girl was weeping. So much for `protecting' Roma children.

Not all Italians are so indifferent of course, and many place the blame
where it lies, with the state, far-right and media. Activists including
anarchists are supporting Roma in practical ways in resisting this process, and
are organising demonstrations to shame the state.

But it's not only Roma in Italy who face persecution and indifference.
Organised attacks by both states and vigilante groups take place all over Europe.
For example, in the 1990s 100,000 Roma were displaced from Kosova.
Many of them still live in poverty in Serbia. See Balkan Refugee Voice: www.
freedomfight.net

Roma and all travellers face discrimination and persecution here too.
Travellers in Essex are fighting eviction from land they own by Basildon
council, who say they do not have proper planning permission. Contact them
at dale.farm@btinternet.com to support their resistance.
Please help spread information about this situation and take action yourself.
See these websites:
www.afed.org.uk www.af-north.org
www.nobordersmanchester.org.uk www.noborderslondon.blogspot.com
www.nobordersnottingham.org.uk www.federazioneanarchica.org
www.noborders.org.uk

--------------------
An employee from the consulate came down to invite two 'representatives' from
the protest to come in to talk with the consul; an offer that was declined so as
not to legitimise him.

no borders
home Homepage: http://www.manchesternoborders.org.uk
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