mercoledì 16 aprile 2008

Italy's shame

Isabella Clough Marinaro
April 11, 2008 2:00 PM

As the elections approach, Italian politicians are fuelling a humanitarian crisis as they vie with each other to exploit resentment against immigrants - especially Roma. Police have been forcibly evicting thousands from camps around major cities in raids which are often illegal and have noticeably intensified during the election campaign.

In the latest incident, police raided a Roma camp in Milan, ejecting over 200 people. As they wandered around the city seeking refuge in other camps - many of them pregnant women with small children - they were met by riot police ordering them to move on and bulldozers ready to wreck their new shacks. The Catholic diocese of Milan protested, and the head of the city's chamber of commerce branded it an "electoral eviction".

Most evictions, however, have taken place around Rome where the outgoing leftwing mayor, and candidate for prime minister, Walter Veltroni, has declared that his administration expelled 6,000 people from camps last year alone. Hundreds more have been made homeless in recent months.

Of Italy's estimated 120,000 to 150,000 Roma, just over half are foreigners. They often live in large and mostly illegal camps without running water, sewers or electricity. While numbers are seen begging or are accused of theft, others have work. Public resentment became particularly acute after the murder of an Italian woman by a Romanian Gypsy last autumn, triggering violent attacks by vigilantes.

In a report to the UN in January the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and associated bodies said that a "human rights emergency" was taking place in Italy, "fostered and promoted by the organs of government." It spoke of a "highly-charged climate of racial hatred mobilised by Italian government and the Italian media."

The UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination (CERD) called on the government last month to stop the use of illegal force by the police against Roma and to punish racially-motivated violence against them. It expressed serious concern about "hate speech" by politicians, such as Giorgio Bettio, a rightwing Northern League town councillor in Treviso, who declared that "if an immigrant commits a crime against an Italian, ten immigrants should be punished for it, following the method used in Nazi concentration camps."

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's election campaign promises zero tolerance towards "Roma, clandestine immigrants and criminals", while Gianni Alemanno, his coalition's candidate for mayor of Rome, promises "the immediate expulsion of 20,000 nomads and immigrants who have broken the law." He, like many other politicians and journalists, ignores the fact that most Roma are not nomads. Nor does he say how he counted 20,000 alleged lawbreakers.

It is not only rightwing politicians who demand mass deportations. Last year the leftwing government of Romano Prodi issued an emergency decree permitting the repatriation of EU citizens deemed a threat to public security. Within a few hours expulsions started.

Rome's leftwing administration planned to move Roma to large and supposedly well-equipped "solidarity villages" far outside the city - and out of sight of voters. There, in Veltroni's words, they would be "integrated," while having "the least possible impact on the fabric" of Roman society. Some 800 Roma live in a prototype camp at Castel Romano, nearly 20 miles from the city centre. The camp, however, is in many ways worse than the one they were evicted from.

"Living conditions are dire. Water is available only sporadically, and is unsuitable for washing, let alone drinking. Many residents complain of skin diseases," says Professor Karen Bermann of Iowa State University, who studies camp conditions. "People are housed in metal containers which become ovens in summer. The septic tanks are overflowing. The camp is far from shops and public transport and it can take two hours to reach the centre of Rome. People have had to give up their jobs and school attendance has dropped. Police have started checking people coming and going and have already refused access to at least one researcher."

Meanwhile the Italian political rhetoric and media misreporting are making an already difficult problem infinitely harder to tackle. The international criticisms have received little or no attention in the media and have been ignored by election campaigners. Only more forceful protests from inside and - above all - outside Italy may shame the authorities into fulfilling the country's humanitarian commitments.

lunedì 14 aprile 2008

Intervista a Fikret Salkanovic

Fikret Salkanovic, portavoce dei Rom Bosniaci del campo, è il primo Rom giunto al Casilino 900 nel 1968.

Immagini: Donatello Conti e Frediano Iraci Sareri
Montaggio: Fabrizio Boni

Intervista a Fikret Salkanovic

giovedì 10 aprile 2008

Casilino '900: è sgombero?

Roma,9 aprile 2008
Nel campo continua a mancare la luce, oggi inizia lo sgombero. Otto baracche sono state demolite, tutte nell'area del primo settore. Il motivo della demolizione la realizzazione di una strada carrabile accessibile ai mezzi di soccorso (ambulanza, vigili del fuoco). Il futuro del campo è sempre più oscuro. Nessun politico, soprattutto in questo periodo pre-elettorale, si compromette dichiarando quali saranno le sorti delle persone che ci abitano.
Espulsione? Spostamento? Case popolari? Villaggi della solidarietà?
Ancora oggi a nessun rom che abita al casilino '900 è concesso il diritto di essere un uomo.

Immagini: Frediano Iraci Sareri, Ilaria Vasdeki
Montaggio: Fabrizio Boni

Casilino '900: è sgombero?

lunedì 7 aprile 2008

Luce su Casilino 900

Roma, campo nomadi di Casilino 900.

L'11 Marzo 2008 un imponente blitz effettuato dal Nucleo Radio Mobile dei Carabinieri ha portato al fermo di 24 persone e al distacco immediato degli allacci alla centralina Acea che forniva a tutte le famiglie del campo l'energia elettrica necessaria all'illuminazione e al riscaldamento delle abitazioni.
L'operazione, eseguita senza alcun accertamento delle responsabilità individuali, ha colpito indiscriminatamente l'intera comunità che da più di 30 anni vive nel campo di Casilino 900.
Ad aggravare la situazione, giunge in questi giorni la notizia dello sgombero del campo, confermata sia dal Municipio VII, sia dal programma elettorale di Francesco Rutelli, favorito per la corsa al Campidoglio.
Con l'ennesimo "colpo di spugna", dunque, l'amministrazione capitolina si appresta a cancellare 30 anni di sacrifici e di impegno delle famiglie residenti, dei comitati cittadini e delle associazioni impegnate sul territorio.

Immagini: Donatello Conti
Montaggio: Fabrizio Boni

Luce su Casilino 900 - prima parte

Luce su Casilino 900 - seconda parte