The fight against repression in Italy

Einde O'Callaghan einde.ocallaghan at
Fri Nov 29 09:27:04 MST 2002

I received this report on the campaign against the arrests of ESF
activists in Italy from the ESF mailing list.

Einde O'Callaghan

Now is the winter of our discontent - A report from Cosenza

By Gilda Catalano

As we headed back to Calabria on the trains from Firenze, the Social
Forum still seemed unreal, the dream of children on an outing, of idle
boasting in a bar; a million people marching for peace, not a single
arrest and the police virtually invisible. The rail and bus depots
were blocked for days with the mass of rainbow-flagged wanderers
trying to get home, the hostels, hotels, garages and archways of the
city awash with flags, back-packs, boots, dogs.. and hope. But if
we'd lived this dream, this unreality of hundreds of thousands of like
minds from all over Europe desperate to know that they were not alone,
then how would we return to reality? How would it be possible to come
down from this high?

In the nights that followed our return, policemen provided the answer -
the black vans and cars waiting to disappear us into the night, and the
despair of waiting in our houses after the pleading phone calls from
friends, waiting for the first tread on the step, waiting...... But this
is modern Italy, my friends, Italy in Europe of the twenty-first
century! Things like this just don't happen here!

But they do, oh yes they do, and when they do, where is your
organization, your defiance, as you sit waiting in the darkness for
the next fresh batch of arrest warrants, wanting to comfort your
friends in prison but feeling so scared yourself that you can hardly

In the days following the arrests we found out - we found out from the
friends all over Europe who flooded us with messages of support, who
bombarded Italian embassies the world over with furious protests, who
kept breaking our server with the weight of their anger. As we felt
this love once again, we organized.

And as we grew stronger and angrier in ourselves, the people of Italy
came to stand with us, in their thousands; by the time of the first
official demonstrations of support, called for the weekend of the
23-24th November, there were almost 80,000 of us, and more arriving
all the time. The people of Cosenza gave the marchers food, wine,
oranges, anything they had and again, just as in Firenze, we were
overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of marchers who took us to their

Where does all this righteous anger, this thirst for action, come from?
Here, in Berlusconi's Italy where TV informs us that the only thing we
need fear are the terrorists, and that we ourselves are the terrorists,
who are the people who defy such a message?

Flinging red roses and white carnations at us, draping white sheets for
peace over their balconies, the people of Cosenza, of Italy dance with
us in the streets, in our hearts, their music the adrenaline of our
march. And now we know, we who wait for the next weekend, for the next
arrests, for the next visit from the 'men in black', we know we cannot
be defeated.

And next week there will be more - more protests, more dancing, more
anger, more wine, and we are with the migrant workers, and we are with
the unemployed. The workers in their factories strike for us, every day
messages of support from all over the world urge us on, and we need
more, we ask for more, we ask for every letter-box, every fax, every
electronic mail in the government structure of Italy to collapse under
the weight of your anger, your protest, your love.

Even then, our friends still sit in prison, 'subverting the state',
clothed in the stale, sweaty rags of a necessary propaganda victory
for our head of state, Silvio Berlusconi. And yet to come their
tribunals, a chance to see how the brave and noble government of Italy,
led by the fearless magistrates of Cosenza, 'protects' its' people -
and from such 'terrorists', such 'subversives' as to make the blood run

Clever, gentle people whose families, whose friends, whose people dance
with us in the streets, whose blood is our blood and whose love is with
us, such is their terror of us and how we 'subvert'..


E-mails of personal solidarity can be sent to ellas at (which
will forward it to the University), or on the University of Calabria
homepage  wgreco at

A direct message carrier can be found on the Department of Sociology
web page:

To see other messages of solidarity, go to:


If you want to sign a petition the website is

Department of Justice offices: urp at

Local Justice Offices:
pref.prefviterbo at,
pref.prefroma at,
pref.prefcosenza at,
pref.prefcatanzaro at,
pref.prefbari at,
pref.prefnapoli at,
pref.preftaranto at

Government and Local Representatives:
residenza.repubblica at,
Martino_A at,
Berlusconi_S at,
Pisanu_G at,
Frattini_F at,
Casini_P at,
Violante_L at,
Bertinotti_F at,
Vendola_N at,
dezulueta_t at,
achille at,
Melandri_G at,
relazioniesterne at

International Human Rights Organizations:
mailbox at,
sg-coneccs at,
amnesty-eu at,
hrwatcheu at

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