I’m not usually one for signing petitions, but a recent initiative has started up which I feel very strongly about. While the top table directly involved in organising and carrying out the butchery of the G8 in Genoa 11 years ago have happily got away with it, 10 activists are risking a total of about 100 years in jail for crimes of “devastation and looting”.
As the official site of the campaign “10 x 100” likes to point out, the crime of “devastation and looting” was first introduced in 1930, that is, while Italy was still under a Fascist regime. Funny how it’s still there. It was first applied to modern Italy as a repressive measure against football fans, but, interestingly, it has been more recently used against migrants revolting in detention centres and activist protests. Here’s the official call out:
A CALL TO CIVIL SOCIETY – SIGN THE PETITION
The way public order was managed during the G8 days of July 2001 in Genoa remains an open wound in the latest history of the Italian Republic.
Ten years after the assassination of Carlo Giuliani, the butchery of the Diaz school, the tortures in the Bolzaneto barracks, the violence and beatings in the streets of Genoa, those responsible were never identified. Moreover, officers in charge of operations at the time have all lead distinguished careers – as in the case of Gianni De Gennaro [chief of the Italian police in 2001], recently appointed Undersecretary of the Italian Prime Minister’s Office.
While the State acquits itself from what Amnesty International defined “the most serious suspension of democratic rights in a western country after the second world war”, on the 13th of July 2012 the Italian Higher Court (Court of Cassation) will decide whether to confirm or set aside the conviction of ten protesters. Ten scapegoats risking being definitely sentenced to a total of one hundred years of imprisonment, in the name of an alleged crime, that of “Destruction and Looting”, which represents one of the many leftovers in Italian criminal law of the old fascist penal code (“the Rocco Code”).
An offence introduced at the time with the clear political intent of persecuting opponents of the fascist regime and now used to suggest the “psychic co-participation” of the defendants, without having to prove any explicit association between them. This leaves it entirely up to prosecutors and judges to evaluate, in political terms, whether the offence is applicable.
It is unacceptable for such a legal monstrosity to have survived 80 years in the Italian penal code and be now used to convict those who participated to political events as important as the Genoa 2001 protests against the G8 – events that saw the participation of hundreds of thousands of people.
More than ten years on, we will not let it end this way. We call on intellectuals, artists, scholars, single individuals, and on the civil society as a whole, to speak out and sign this petition, demanding the invalidation of the ten protesters’ convictions for destruction and looting.
This battle is about the freedom of us all.
This can be signed on the campaign’s website. The call out has been translated in several languages, but everything else on the site is in Italian.
For my personal thoughts on Genoa, read my editorial “The year my eyes were opened”. Coming soon: a translation of a fellow blogger’s beautifully angry piece on her experience of Genoa 2001. Stay tuned!