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Remember Genoa (Guardian artilce today)

hkfkfh | 16.11.2007 15:15 | Globalisation | Repression | World

The following article was posted on The Guardian's 'Comment is Free' site.


Remember Genoa

Ben Trott

This Saturday in Italy, thousands are expected to take to the streets of Genoa. They will do so in support of 25 people facing a combined 225 years in prison for demonstrating against the G8 Summit, to which the city played host in 2001.

Those standing trial are accused of "devastation and pillage" under Article 419 of the Italian penal code. The law was introduced under fascism in Italy, designed for use against foreign troops that ransacked Italian cities. It has hardly been used since.

On top of between six and 16 years in prison each, the defendants are facing a possible combined €2.6m fine, to compensate for the supposed damage done to Genoa's image during the demonstrations. The severity of the penalties are partly due to prosecutors asking the judge to not only take into consideration crimes the defendants are said to have committed themselves, but their "moral culpability" for "inspiring" others to do the same.

Six and a half years ago, 300,000 took part in the G8 protests against the globalisation of the Thatcherite model of free trade, privatisation and an attack on workers' rights. They were opposed to this dominant form of capitalist globalisation, governed over not only by nation states but institutions like the G8, the World Trade Organisation, the IMF and the World Bank (who had already been the focus of protests in Seattle and Prague). As an alternative, they proposed the globalisation of radical forms of democracy, free access to the wealth produced by society, and of social and political rights.

Ahead of the summit, the Tute Bianche (white overalls) movement put out a statement that the G8 was an institution without democratic or political legitimacy. They would try to shut down the meeting by entering the security "Red Zone" around the conference centre, wearing their customary boiler-suit padding and helmets to protect their bodies from harm. Around 15,000 people joined them.

En route towards the summit, the police and carabinieri (military police) attacked. Using batons, tear gas and live ammunition (18 spent rounds were collected by protesters), the demonstration was forced to retreat. During the confrontation that ensued, 23-year-old demonstrator Carlo Giuliani was shot dead.

The police brutality did not stop there. The next day, a police unit raided the Diaz school where protesters and journalists were sleeping. Of the 93 detained, 62 were injured - 20 of whom needed to be carried out of the building on stretchers. The walls were left splattered with blood.

Amnesty International later expressed concern that non-violent demonstrators, volunteer doctors and nurses, and journalists reporting on the event, had all been subject to "excessive force" by the police. They also spoke of the "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" of those taken into custody.

With the current court cases, the prosecutors are asking that the 25 standing trial be held to account for the decision of tens of thousands to take part in acts of disobedience against what they saw as an illegitimate institution. And moreover, for the Genoa demonstrators' need to defend themselves from a brutal and indiscriminate attack.

According to Italy's ASG news agency, the Coordination for an Independent Police Trade Union (COISP) have applied for permission to hold counter-demonstrations in Genoa on the same day this weekend. Meanwhile, the governing L'Unione centre-left coalition have recently rejected calls to set up a parliamentary commission to investigate police excesses during the summit, despite pre-election pledges to do so from within their ranks. In 2003, the court case against the carabinieri who shot Giuliani was closed without any charges being brought. All these factors are likely to swell the numbers willing to show their solidarity on Saturday.

It is in defence of the democratic right to resist - to publicly state that an institution like the G8 has no legitimacy, and to defend ourselves when being shot at for doing so - that so many will be returning to Genoa.



Hide the following comment

in dyme d'ya censor ship ? "remember each eleventh"

20.11.2007 10:04

libdem leadership debate opinion-influencer interference effect (yesterday), "guy fawkes was framed" piece (on the 5th), a "remember to remember" piece (the eleventh), all hallows/ halloween "church" debate critique . . . . what IS the point in people going out to demo's if we let "our" "alt" media do such stupid, arbitrary censorship.
Speaking as somebody else that was crippled for years from injuries on a demo - I expect a F****** good retort. cheers

i wonder . . . .


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