(en)The Europe of Deportation, Jun 17

Lyn and Shawn (linjin@tao.ca)
Thu, 19 Jun 1997 11:57:57 pst

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Thu, 19 Jun 1997 09:29:07 +1000 From: "Harry M. Cleaver" <hmcleave@mundo.eco.utexas.edu> (by way of sjwright@vaxc.cc.monash.edu.au (Steve Wright)) Subject: E;The Europe of Deportation, Jun 17 To: a-infos-raw Cc: chat@xchange.apana.org.au Reply-to: a-infos-work

What follows is a slightly edited version of my original message introducing the French language report followed by an English translation of that report.


Here's an account of the police blockage and subsequent harassment of two Italian trains full of protesters headed for Amsterdam for a European wide protest. 130 Italians were thrown into a high security Dutch prison. Many were held on their knees for hours. Many were expelled from Holland never having been able to attend the demonstration.

The writer discusses the refusal to pay (in solidarity with the undocumented and as an expression of the demand for free movement) and the sending of money instead to Chiapas! It is clear that lots of different kinds of struggles were being mingled here, which makes sorting out state motives difficult. Certainly, the state would have reasons for opposing virtually every action and motivation involved in these efforts.

Towards the end of the article is a discussion of the way the protestors used cellular phones to provide real-time accounts to comrades at the free radio stations and the European Counter Network which uploaded the story hour by hour to the air-waves and Internet.

They argue that this real-time reporting permited mobilization of equally rapid protests at various consulats and other actions which supported the protestors on the train.

This report should give us considerable food for thought about just how immediate and effective our actions on the Net can be. Here too is a partial answer to the question I posed on the Aut-op-sy list about how our friends in Europe would respond to Europe-wide repression of freedom of movement: an escalation of their own struggle through Europe-wide coordination of diffused action in support of concentrated group effort. The similarities to the world-wide mobilizations which have occurred in support of the Zapatistas should be obvious.

In another posting, Franco suggested that just such police action might be forthcoming this summer at the time of the 2nd Encuentro in Spain if large numbers of participants from other European countries went to the meetings together. It would be good, I think, to contemplate just such a possibility and ask what preparations we might want to take in advance. It provides us with one more reason why we need to get our Internet resources geared up in advance of the Encuentro and to talk about what kinds of actions those of us dispersed around the world might take if the Spanish police follow the Dutch, German and Swiss examples. As Franco mentioned, the Spainish police have a reputation far worse than those in Northern Europe. (In fact, it might not be a bad time to go back and reread Federico Garcia Lorca's poem on the Spanish Civil Guard). The Basque web page provides accounts of torture very reminiscent of Mexico.


PS: The French version was posted earlier. PPS: It would be good if someone would translate this report into Spanish. ............................................................................


It is often said, and heard, that the experience of travel shapes young people's lives by allowing them to meet other persons and other cultures.

For us, the three thousand young people (and less young), members of the Ya Basta association, social centers, base organizations, the world of association, unemployed, precarious workers, waged workers, students, ..., this trip resembled a collective deportation!!

It is true that we met various cultures and nationalites ... of cops! But one cannot say that they are really different in their essence (not the kind that burns in bottles [this is a play on word "essence" which in French also means gasoline]). The only differences were the color of their uniforms, the size of their clubs and of their owners (the Dutch anti-riot corps were proportional to their gabarit [?], all could belong to a rugby team. .. men as well as women). These same Dutch did not hesitate to send us the cavalry [?] and armored vehicles to disperse us.


On Friday morning, a thousand Romans and Neopolitans took over two trains in order to get to Milan, the meeting point for all who were leaving for Amsterdam.

In the afternoon, all those from the Northeast of Italy and also from the center of the peninsula, did the same thing.

It is necessary to say that we had already announced three weeks before, in public, our intention to participate in the Amsterdam demonstration of June 14 by taking over the trains. We were demanding our right to participate in the demonstration for free, not having the means to pay for tickets but also asserting with all the financial means that have been put to work for the meetings of the big ones of this world, we simple citizens, we demanded free transportation. Our second demand was to pass through different countries without revealing our identity and this was an act of solidarity with undocumented workers and to assert our right to free circulation as individuals. We had, on the other hand, asked a financial donation (70FF) from each demonstrator in order to send this sum to Chiapas and to thus help the Zapatistas who fight against Neo-liberalism and for a new world.

Those of us from the Northeast, were the last to arrive in Milan towards 19h30. With our arrival some 2,500 comrades were massed at the train station, surrounded by an impressive police presence (how things were going to go was already obvious). The negotiations with the buraucrats of the Ministries of Transportation and of The Interior were already under way. Towards 22h00, they proposed to add 6 cars to the train leaving for the North of Germany and promise us that in Duisbourg, a train would carry us to Amsterdam. 3.000 persons in 6 cars? Useless to relate our reaction, the occupation of the central train station of Milan became concrete.

Towards midnight, a special train for Amsterdam was announced, a first victory!

The first train left towards 00h30, the second towards 1h00.

Within the 2 trains, the management of space organized itself: 10 persons to each compartment, the passageways became sleeping rooms, ....

The passage of the Swiss border, under the supervision of many policemen, happened without incident, a 30 minute stop. The black night as we passed through the Alps saw sleep throughout the two trains.

During our passage through German train stations, the presence of police intensified.

Saturday about 16.00, the second train arrived at the Amsterdam station, while the first was already there. Happy to have arrived we headed tranquilly toward the exit chanting slogans "No to the Europe of Maastricht!", "Guaranteed income for all", "Free circulation of persons". We instantly saw that several cars of the first train, with our friends inside, were encircled by the anti-riot corps. We headed towards the train but access was closed by barriers, both metal and human, or rather the latter was a barrier of several rows of Robocops. Once more some of us initiated negotiations, first to understand the reasons for this police provocation and of course to demand the liberation of our friends. The robocop encirclement did not let up but our friends did get out of the cars.

Then, we decided to form a column to find others who had arrived for the demonstration. One solid group remained to greet the last of our "liberated" friends.

Our arrival at the Dam was announced from the podium and received with applause. At last, we thought, we will be able to communicate with other humans who had also come to protest against this Europe of the rich, of capital and of repression. This hope was short lived because we soon learned from our friends who had remained in front of the train station that an entire car and its occupants were still encircled by the robocops. We returned quickly to the train station. There, the situation was very tense. Negotiations resumed and our rage grew. In short order, we were encircled by hundreds and hundreds of robocops, by the robocop cavalery and by armored vehicles. They were ordered to disperse us. The balance of power was far from being in our favor. ..

After a "light" charge by the robocops, during which, among others, two deputes of Comunista Rifondazione were knocked around (they had been present at the demonstration and had come to the train station to try to influence the autorites to liberate our friends), we took off once more towards the center; the liberation of our friends was impossible to obtain for the moment.

There, Luca, spokesperson of the moment explained from the podium the situation at the train station and also the reasons for our coming to Amsterdam: "A little like the Zapatistes in Chiapas, the trains for Amsterdam were our descent from the mountain to assert our desires for liberty. For that, we have passed the borders without revealing our identities. Because we are all the undocumented. [Todos Somos Marcos] We chose the train because we want to pass borders freely and to be present everywhere our destinies are being decided. ..". It proved impossible to return towards the train station because the robocops had blocked the whole zone of the train station, clashes had already taken place between our Dutch friends and robocops.

130 friends were arrested and taken directly to the high security prison of Amsterdam .

The official reason given for their arrest was that they had destroyed a compartment in the train. No person, or journalists who had been "counciled" sharply to not remain at the train station, nor the Deputes of Comunista Rifondazione and other Eurodeputies come to to see what was going on, were allowed to see this car.

Despite this the 130 had their hands bound with plastic handcuffs and were taken to the Amsterdam prison. There, the men were put in the courtyard on their knees facing the wall. For 7 hours they were forced to remain there, and at the least movement, they had their heads knocked against the wall, the kindness of the robocops. Forbidden to go to the toilets, they had to urinate in the courtyard and water was given them to clean themselves. After that they were forced to pass in front of a video-camera. The women were taken into the gymnasium of the prison and did not undergo the treatment metted out to the men, but they were also photographed. On the other hand, many were injured by the plastic handcuffs, especially when the robocops amused themselves by removing them with knives. Then, without having been identified or given any expulsion order, they were taken to a train station on the outskirts of Amsterdam and towards 23h00, their car was added to a train headed for Italy. Obviously, we had no access to this car until the German border and they were under strict supervision of the robocops.


Towards 21h00, we all found ourselves back at the train station, beseiged by the robocops, ready to return to Italy. We soon learned that one of ours had been arested and was still in prison. The accusation of hybriete [drunkeness?] had changed into "resistance to the forces of the order". Later, we found out that two other friends had suffered the same fate. They were all the three returned to Italy Monday evening by airplane after three days in prison.

A first train left towards 24h00 for the center and the south of the Italy. For our part, the second was supposed to leave some minutes later for Milan and the northeast. We soon learned that Germany had closed its borders, for so-called "technical problems", and that only Monday morning towards 7h00 would it be possible for us to cross the border. Through the loudspeakers of the train station, a feminine voice made an announcement in Italian (with a strong german accent) that in a way that reminded us of a tragic period of European history. Here is the message: "Dear Italians. The train which left earlier is blocked a little this side of the German border. The border with Germany is closed. You will leave soon to rejoin your Italian friends. Before your depart, you will be given something to drink and to eat. The police will be present at the train station this side of the border for your security. Bon voyage. End of message".

For drink, a few bottles of water... in glass... were distributed. With a sly humor a few requested a little gasoline to go with the bottles. For food, we got sandwiches: two little pieces of bread with a slim slice of cheese, all frozen! At 2h00, our train left. Thanks to cellular phones, we learned that the first train was indeed blockaded and encircled by robocops, firemen and dogs with a total ban on leaving the train. At the time of our arrival, nothing had changed.

Towards 7h00, Monday morning, the train left towards Germany. Tension was high because we did not know what to expect. Before the border our 130 friends rejoined us and the atmosphere relaxed a little. At the border, once again robocops, German this time, were waiting for us and stalked authoritarianly into the two trains. Ten to a compartment! [NB: European trains usually hold 8 in a compartment. Four on each side, facing each other. The context makes it sound like there were 10 cops in each CAR, but the wording is ambiguous.] The trip continued therefore in their presence [with the cops on board] and the only stops that we made in German stations (very short and we were always forbidden to get down to obtain food and drink) were made to the change the pretorian guards. The only words we exchanged with our German sheperds were of the order: They: "Don't smoke marijuarana. It's forbiden in Germany." Us (in English or in Italian) "You're right," "OK", "Basta" and blowing smoke in their direction with a little smile in the corner of our mouths. The 2 trains thus asserted their antiprohibitionnist politics. Certain German robocops who appreciated neither us nor our humour sought to impose their decisions on us but backed off as tension climbed, especially when the one of them decided to photograph certain passengers. At the last train station before the Swiss border, the robocops got off which brought to an end what must have been the biggest travelling episode in the history of European police cinema. Others took photos.

During the crossing of Germany the second train moved out in front. We learned that Switzerland had prapared a welcome commitee for us before Lugano and that thousands of police and soldiers had decided to undertake a systematic individual shakedown. As news of this spread through the two trains, the consumption of the last joints accelerated accordingly. In the end, the Swiss decided not to do this search, maybe they figured out that searching 3.000 persons would take too long.

At 21h30, the first train, ours, arrived in Milan. Two welcoming commitees were waiting for us. Our friends of the social center Leoncavallo of Milan, those who had not been able to go to Amsterdam, welcomed us warmly. This was not the case with the numerous carabinieri and other riot troops, but we are used to that. We learned that the second train was blocked at the border between Switzerland and Italy ... the locomotive having given up its soul. So fragile these machines!

At 23h30, our friends finally arrived in Milan. After a few minutes of warm farewell, the two trains headed off in their previously announced directions. The one for Rome arrived towards 7h00, the one for Naples towards 10h00. We arrived in Padova towards 2h30 to the applause of some sixty friends and parents come look for their children. In Trieste, the train arrived around 5h00. The Odyssey was over. We felt again free, happy and satisfied. If in fact all this deportation was organised in advance, to prevent us from communicating our opposition to the Europe of Maastricht, it did not work because we were able to communicate more than we expected about the reality of present day Europe.


Without the many cellular phones in our possesion we never could have been able to communicate in real time our many adventures and that would have had, without any doubt, a negative effect not only on our simple "survival" but also on the political management of the events. Because we were able to constantly inform our friends in Padova (Radio Sherwood and Infodiret(t)e, in particular), in Milan (Leoncavallo and ECN-Milan), in Rome (the social Centers and Tactical Media Crew) and as well as those at ECN-Bologne, they were able, through the radios, to follow in real time the events and also to pressure the Italian institutions (the differents Italian consulats in the various countries that organized our deportation). In Milan, on Saturday evening towards 22h00, our friends organized a demonstration in front of the Dutch consulate and on Sunday in Rome the Dutch Embassy experienced the same kind of visit demanding the liberation of the 3 friends still in prison and protesting against the organised repression against all the Italians. They also organized press conferences so that other papers would not do like the REPUBBLICA and spread calomnies and lies. STAMPA, despite being a newspaper belonging to the Agnelli family, published a very good article on our story in the Monday edition. Finally, friends taking care of communication on the Internet (and not just Italians because Aris of the Parisian collective parisian kom(inter)net kept track and translated in real time, as did Steve, one of our dear Australian friends of the Aut-op-sy list and Harry, living in the US) did exceptional work making it possible to follow our story hour by hour. This communication work was honored in the CORRIERE DELLA SERA, which in its Monday edition, devoted an article to this fact, underlining "the autonomists were able to provide information in real time through their server Isole nella Rete on the events in Amsterdam and on the train voyage of their friends. CNN, during the Gulf War, did not display such efficiency."


The Right, ever since Saturday afternoon has railed against the autonomists and against the government. Many parliamentary investigations are scheduled for this week. The neo-fascistes of the Alleanza Nazionale (AN) of course have been the most virulent. They rage about the so-called degradations on the train demanding to know who will pay the costs. They denounce the government that offered (useless to recall that no one "offered" us anything, we ourselves conquered it) the two trains while saying that we would be the "armed right hand" of the center-left and that through these events we have created an abominable image of the Italian people...

The government, as a such, has not made any official statements. Bertinotti, secretary of Rifondazione Comunista, has replied to AN that instead of worrying about train cars they would do better to ask themselves why thousands of young people decided to attend this demonstration and especially to question the motives behind the treatment that they received from the various European police forces. Finally, 2 deputies from Verdi have demanded that the government request official explanations from the Dutch and German governments about the deportation of thousands of young people.

The reponse of the social centers was not slow incoming, especially to the statements of AN. The translation of the communique will be sent soon.

OK, I stop for the moment. I hope that you have reached this point. I will send you an earlier document where we present a proposal for a Europeen meeting in Venice in September. Soon.


............................................................................ Harry Cleaver Department of Economics University of Texas at Austin Austin, Texas 78712-1173 USA Phone Numbers: (hm) (512) 478-8427 (off) (512) 475-8535 Fax:(512) 471-3510 E-mail: hmcleave@eco.utexas.edu Cleaver homepage: http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/index.html Chiapas95 homepage: http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/chiapas95.html Accion Zapatista homepage: http://www.utexas.edu/students/nave/ ............................................................................

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