Thursday, August 21, 2008


The Oread Daily has previously reported on the fascist campaign against Roma currently underway in Italy. Besides physical violence directed against Roma by vigilantes and their ilk, the actions of the new Italian government have been just as ominous. These have included racist and inflammatory rhetoric as well as the actual implementation of a series of draconian policies targeting the Roma. Even before the new government took power in May its representatives had promised a "crackdown" on Roma, and indicated that those who would take the law into their own hands would suffer few if any consequences.

Thus, the EU Observer reports, on May 11, four Molotov cocktails were thrown into Romani camps in Milan and Novara. On 13 May, assailants burned the Ponticelli Romani settlement in Naples to the ground, causing the approximately 800 residents to flee while Italians stood by and cheered. On 9 June, a settlement of around 100 Romanian Roma in Sicily was attacked and burned to the ground. (pictured above is a picture of a Roma camp set afire by Italian thugs).

Italian Minister of Internal Affairs Roberto Maroni, also a member of the extreme right Lega Nord party, is reported to have stated about these attacks: "That is what happens when gypsies steal babies."

Maroni has also told the media: "All Roma camps will have to be dismantled right away, and the inhabitants will be either expelled or incarcerated." The new government has acted on this promise by destroying the housing of Roma in a number of areas, and expelling their inhabitants, or simply forcing them into homelessness.

The new government has also carried out a forced fingerprinting campaign targeting all Roma living in camps, as well as passing a law which defines the mere presence of Roma in a given area as a state of emergency.

Despite these facts, the European Union has to date been "incapable" of responding appropriately to the scale of crisis. This although the Union has the power under the EU Treaty to act preventatively when a risk arises threatening the principles on which the Union is based, notably, "the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States".

Claude Chan of the Advocacy Unit, Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), wrote recently, "As long as the Union institutions tolerate the current actions and inactions of the Italian government, the message of the European Union to the Roma of Europe is, 'We care little about your pain. We are deaf to your interests.'"

But the inaction of the EU really is no surprise. After all it isn't only in Italy where the Roma are treated like dirt. Roma communities throughout Europe live in conditions that are glaringly inadequate: poor or dilapidated housing, lack of sanitation and sewage facilities, cramped living quarters and lack of clean water, electricity and emergency services. In addition the Roma are often segregated from the larger society and effectively ghettoised. Because Roma people often live in conditions that are not legally sanctioned, they also face an increased risk of forced eviction and displacement.

In Manchester, England real people plan to protest all of this crap next month. I hope this is just the beginning of a fight back campaign.

The following is from the Anarchist Federation.

Invitation to Roma solidarity demo on 19 September 2008, in Manchester

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. All welcome.
Date: Friday 19 September 2008
Time: 11.30am
Place: Italian Consultate. 111 Piccadilly Manchester, M1 2HY.

The Anarchist Federation is having a demo on Friday 19th September at the Italian Consulate in Manchester (the day before the big demo at the Labour conference, also Manchester). It's at 11.30am, at 111 Piccadilly Manchester, M1 2HY.

The demo follows serious attacks on Roma people in Italy including physical attacks on camps, threats of fingerprinting of the Roma population (including children) and right-wing/fascist manipulations by Italian politicians & press that are linking Roma people to 'crime' and 'illegal immigration' which is increasing popularist calls for their expulsion from Italy and destruction of Roma camps.

Manchester No Borders & Roma groups in the north-west have already confirmed they will participate.

Please come & bring placards & banners!

No comments: