Friday, June 06, 2008


Following the anti-Roma line of the what I would call pretty damn close to fascist, Italian government, vigilante attackers in late May set fire to shacks where Gypsies lived on the outskirts of the Italian city of Naples. The Naples arson attacks were apparently co-ordinated by clans of the Camorra, the Naples Mafia.

Today the State is doing pretty much the same in the capital. The government earlier this morning launched an assault on a Roma camp and chased out its residents.

When the new Cabinet of Silvio Berlusconi, who won a sweeping election victory in April, met in Naples last month, it set forth what it called an emergency decree on crime and immigration, but which was pretty much targetting the Roma community in Italy (for the time being anyway).

The Berlusconi coalition combines his Forza Italia with the anti-immigrant Northern League and the “post-Fascist” Alleanza Nazionale. All agree with Berlusconi that “Italians have the right not to live in fear” - which means targeting those who make Italians afraid.

Apparently Italians are afraid of the gypsies.

Eighty thousand Roma are legal Italian citizens, having fled from oppression, starvation, and unemployment in their "home" countries. Most Italian-based gypsies have been in the country for years, if not decades, and rarely have family or friends back in Romania, Bulgaria, or Hungary, where most of them started their wanderings.

Makes no difference to the new fascists in charge of the Italy.

Italian police last month arrested hundreds of suspected "illegal immigrants" in raids across the country. Expulsion orders were issued for several dozen of those detained. More than 100 Italians were also arrested. One raid was on a makeshift camp housing Roma (Gypsies), on the edge of Rome.

And the neo-fascist Italian government has handed Italy a new law which gives mayors power to deny residence to EU citizens who cannot show they have adequate earnings and decent housing, i.e. "get the gypsies out of here."

Earlier this week The United Nations High Commissioner For Human Rights, criticized the recent decision of Italy's rightwing government headed by Silvio Berlusconi and his neo-fascist allies to criminalize illegal immigration to Italy as well as for recent attacks on Roma camps.
That condemnation seems toothless.
Others who have experience with fascists, have stepped forward to defend the Roma though so far to little avail.

“There are alarming signs of racism in Italy today,” says Riccardo Di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, who recently visited a gypsy camp to express Jewish solidarity. Jews and Gypsies both ended up in Hitler's concentration camps, he points out. “We have to be on the alert, not only because of what is happening but because of what could happen. First one group is singled out, then another. This must be stopped now.”

The US-based Anti-Defamation League has called on the Italian government to publicly condemn xenophobia against Roma Gypsies (as if).

"We urge the Italian government to publicly condemn xenophobia against Roma and the anti-Roma rhetoric that fosters an atmosphere in which attacks like those in Milan and Naples can be possible," said Abraham Foxman, the ADL's national director.
Since it is the Italian government which is fanning the flames of racism calling on it to "condemn xenophobia" seems naive.

What is going on today in Italy is downright nasty.

The right wing election victory last month, which included the election of Rome’s first right-wing mayor since World War II and the stiffest rejection ever of communists, was part of a significant shift in favor of the Italian political right, composed of restyled former Fascists, anti-immigrant forces and traditional conservatives.

Umberto Bossi and three other members of his Northern League party were given choice seats in the new Cabinet, including control of the Interior Ministry, which oversees police and most domestic security.

Bossi is responsible for statements such as: “Illegal immigrants must be hunted, either in a friendly or a hostile manner. At some point there comes a moment when force must be used.” Bossi triggered a storm in 2003 when a newspaper quoted him as saying that immigrants arriving in Italy by boat should be stopped by a cannon that "blows everyone out of the water".

“All Gypsies must go,” the league’s Davide Boni, an official in the Lombardy regional government, said recently in an interview in his office in Milan.

In this climate, it came as little surprise that the government’s first action has been a harsh police crackdown on the Roma.

The following is from Adnkronos Internationa.

Italy: Government moves to dismantle Gypsy camp

A Roma Gypsy camp that houses 120 people, including 40 children, was being dismantled by Italian authorities in Rome on Friday.

About 40 caravans and tents were being dismantled near the capital's Tiber river in the neighbourhood of Testaccio despite protests from the residents.

Many of the inhabitants of the camp had reportedly been transferred from a camp in the area of Saxa Rubra, also previously dismantled.

"This eviction is particularly scandalous because the people concerned are Italian citizens. They are Kalderash Roma who used to live in the Campo Boario with the city government's approval," said Isabella Clough-Marinaro, a sociologist and Roma expert from the American University of Rome in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

"When they were evicted from there in 2006, the city government said it would find them a decent alternative location. So far, no such alternative has been found."

Recently, the new conservative Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi issued a number of security measures, keeping an electoral pledge to clamp down on illegal immigration and crime.

According to the left-wing Italian politician, Rita Bernardini, the government's latest move is in clear violation of the United Nations' International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

"The dismantling of the camp in Testaccio violates the (treaty)....ratified by Italy.....which forbids the dismantling without providing people alternative housing," said Bernardini, opposition politician and joint-Chairwoman of the Italian Radicals Party.

The city's new Roma commissioner, Carlo Mosca, said on Friday that the Roma Gypsies would be 'monitored', and a 'census' would be carried out.

In an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica on Friday, Mosca said that Roma Gypsies would also be fingerprinted and photographed and this would allow the authorities to identify them.

Responding to Mosca's comments, Clough-Marinaro said that the census of Roma camps would be discriminatory because it targets a single ethnic group for special surveillance and security measures.

"Its main purpose is to scare the Roma into leaving the city and to prepare the ground for mass deportations," she told AKI.

Mosca was appointed as special Roma Gypsy commissioner for Rome and surrounding areas. His new powers include the power to move Roma Gypsy camps and to keep legal Gypsies under surveillance.

Mosca concluded saying that no new camps would be created but it was unclear whether he referred to legal or illegal camps.

"We do not intend to create new discomfort in other areas and provinces outside Rome. We must solve the problem with what we already have and not create new settlements that can spark new protests," concluded Mosca.

In May police had to evacuate two Roma Gypsy camps in the low-income Ponticello suburb of the southern city of Naples before it was torched by a mob.

The mob attacked the camp after a teenage Roma Gypsy girl allegedly attempted to kidnap an Italian baby.

Tens of thousands of Roma Gypsies have entered Italy in the past few years since Slovakia and Romania joined the European Union, and they are being blamed by many Italians for much of the recent rise in crime rates.

Many Roma Gypsies come from Romania and of the 150,000 Roma gypsies who live in Italy, about 70,000 have Italian citizenship.

Also, in the northern Italian city of Milan, a census was carried out on Friday in the camp of Via Impastato. All inhabitants were identified and will reportedly receive a card allowing access to the camp.

A protest to defend the rights of the Roma Gypsies and Sinti Gypsy community was scheduled to take place in Rome on Sunday.

Rights group Amnesty International and the Anti-Defamation League, both recently attacked Italy for its treatment of Roma Gypsies and illegal immigrants.

No comments: