The Campaign Against Criminalising Communities supports Indymedia collective groups throughout Europe and condemns the recent Italian state action criminalising political dissent.
Indymedia is a worldwide network of collective groups committed to providing an alternative media platform. Italian police paramilitary raids on three social centres in Italy on Thursday February 20 at 7am were designed to attack the Indymedia network in Italy. These acts clearly flout the intention of the Declaration made by the Justice and Home Affairs Council at a meeting on November 16 to protect the rights of protestors.
The Declaration stated: "The council declares that the framework decision terrorism covers acts which are considered by all Member States of the European Union as serious infringements of their criminal laws committed by individuals whose objectives constitute a threat to their democratic societies respecting the rule of law and the civilisation upon which these societies are founded. It has to be understood in this sense and cannot be construed so as to argue that the conduct of those who have acted in the interest of preserving or restoring these democratic values, as was notably the case in some Member States during the Second World War, could now be considered as "terrorist" acts. Nor can it be construed so as to incriminate on terrorist grounds persons exercising their legitimate right to manifest their opinions, even if in the course of the exercise of such right they commit offences." (12647/4/01, 19.11.01)
We urge democratic governments to deplore the right-wing administration’s acts abusing human rights and underminging the intent of the Declaration. Otherwise Italy’s assaults on basic civil liberties will continue. Disguising such actions in legality is an abuse that can only lead to public disenchantment with the whole political process.
Actions such as represented by one police eyewitness account in Genoa reported by Italian daily La Repubblica give serious cause for alarm:
The police "lined them [protesters] up and banged their heads against the walls. They urinated on one person. They beat people if they didn’t sing Facetta Nera (a fascist hymn). One girl was vomiting blood but the chief of the squad just looked on. They threatened to rape the girls with batons."
One of the lawyers supporting the arrested and injured through the Genoa Legal Forum recently said: "One of the lawyer’s of GLF has been visited by police [21.3.2002] looking for video and other material. It is …unbelievable!"
The raid ordered by two Genovese attorneys was carried out by Italian paramilitary. Three social centres including one autonomous union known as COBAS with over 10,000 members were targeted because Indymedia volunteers occasionally used the offices. Footage from the Genoa protests along with computers, archives and equipment, was confiscated, including over 160 hours of video footage showing the protests, the murder of Carlo Guiliani and the school raid.
The three raid coincide with an admission from Italian interior minister that he ordered a "shoot to kill" policy if a ‘sizeable number’ of protestors penetrated an area, which had been designated as a red zone.
Italy faced international condemnation from Amnesty and the United Nations after the Genoa protests. Both ordered independent enquiries into police conduct during the protests especially the brutal raid on a school where protestors were housed.
We call upon the British government and relevant European bodies to take all urgent action necessary to protect fundamental civil rights including the right to freedom of expression in Italy and throughout the EU.
INDYMEDIA APPEAL SUPPORTERS SIGNATURES
John Austin, Labour MP
Tony Benn, Labour MP
Rudi Vis, Labour MP
John McDonnell MP
Diane Abbott MP
Alan Simpson MP
Stephen Twigg MP
Neil Gerrard MP
Hugo Charlton Green Party
George Monbiot, journalist
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch
Avv. Federico Micali, STUDIO LEGALE ASSOCIATO MEDIA
Liz Davis, Socialist Alliance chair
Adrian Mitchell, poet
Roland Rance, Walthamstow TUC
Dr Phil Walden NUJ
Dr Kay Goodall, School of law lecturer Edinburgh University
Anne Gray CACC
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Teresa Hayter, NUJ
John Bunzl, SIMPOL
Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign
Diyari Kurdi, Kurdish Community Centre Haringey
Pegeen O’ Sullivan, Wolfe Tone Society
Andreas Gavrieldis, Greek-Kurdish Solidarity Campaign