Italian medical soldier jailed for saving cat’s life?


Doctor Barbara Balanzoni

Nearly a century ago, in World War I, British military top brass ordered a cat to be shot for treason.

Now, in 2013, an Italian woman doctor may have to spend a year or more in a military jail for saving a cat’s life.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Italian army reservist to be prosecuted for saving cat’s life in Kosovo

Barbara Balanzoni, who saved dying cat while serving as a medical officer at a Nato base, is charged with insubordination

John Hooper in Rome

Sunday 22 December 2013 15.35 GMT

A question is to be raised in the Italian parliament over the case of an army officer who was sent for trial at a military court last week for saving the life of a dying cat.

Lieutenant Barbara Balanzoni, a reservist who has since returned to her civilian job as an anaesthetist in Tuscany, is charged with gross insubordination. She committed the alleged offence while serving as medical officer at a Nato base in Kosovo.

It is claimed that, by attending to the cat, Lt Balanzoni disregarded an order issued by her commanding officer in May 2012 forbidding troops at the base from “bringing in or having brought in wild, stray or unaccompanied animals”. She faces a minimum sentence of one year in a military penitentiary.

Lt Balanzoni told the Guardian she intervened after receiving a call to the infirmary from military personnel, alarmed by the noises the cat was making. She said the cat – later named “Agata” – normally lived on the roof of a hut.

“There are lots of cats on the base,” she said. “In theory, they are strays, but in practice they belong there.”

Lt Balanzoni said the veterinary officer was in Italy when she received the call. “Far from disobeying orders, I was following military regulations, which state that, in the absence of a vet, the medical officer should intervene.”

She said she found that the cat had been unable to deliver the last of her kittens, which was stillborn, and was certain to die. “If the cat had died, the entire area would have had to be disinfected. What is more, the surviving kittens could not have been fed. So they too would have died and created an even greater public health problem.”

Lt Balanzoni’s trial is due to open in Rome on 7 February. Her case has been taken up by Italy’s oldest animal defence association, the Ente Nazionale Protezione Animali and a question to the defence minister is due to be tabled in the Senate, the upper house of the Italian legislature, when parliament reassembles after the Christmas break.

See also here.

French students’ mass pro-refugee movement


This video is called Student deportations spark protests in Paris.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 19 October 2013

FRENCH YOUTH ERUPT! – against deportations

TENS of thousands of French youth walked out of their classes and lectures and joined marches on Thursday protesting over the removal of two foreign students from France.

At least 20 secondary schools in Paris were closed by the walkout.

A rally took place between the city’s Bastille and Nation squares and there were also school walkouts in Marseille, Lyon and Rouen.

Anger in France erupted after one of the school students, Leonarda Dibrani, 15, was removed from a school bus to be expelled along with her family earlier this month.

They had been living in the eastern region of Doubs for several years.

There is also anger over the removal of Khatchik Kachatryan, a 19-year-old student in Paris who was expelled on Saturday to Armenia after reportedly being arrested.

Protesters have demanded the resignation of Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who has defended the expulsions and has been carrying out a tough policy towards Roma immigrants in general.

The row has created a crisis within the government of ‘Socialist’ President Francois Hollande.

Outside one school in central Paris, the Lycee Charlemagne, wheelie bins were used to block the entrance. A banner read ‘Jotters not ID papers’.

One schoolgirl, named as Amelie, said: ‘We got organised on Facebook yesterday evening – it was super easy!’

Leonarda and her family have been given a flat and a small allowance in the Kosovo city of Mitrovica, where they have been speaking to French journalists about the shock of being sent to a region where they are strangers, unable to speak Albanian.

A review of the case has been ordered in France, along with an investigation into the police response. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said the family will be allowed to return if ‘any fault is found’ with the expulsion order.

Students protested the eviction of both Kachatryan and Dibrani.

‘Bring back Khatchik and Leonarda, they belong here,’ the marching pupils chanted, holding up signs calling for Valls to resign and urging solidarity.

For her part, Dibrani has spoken out in multiple media interviews from Mitrovica asking to come back to France to continue her schooling.

The anti-refugee demonstrations are organized by the FIDL, a student organisation with links to the governing Socialist Party.

French students fight government’s anti-Roma racism


This video from France is called France: Mass student protest after Roma girl gets deported.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

French teens mount barricades after student deported

Thursday 17th October 2013

Hundreds rally after Kosovan seized during field trip

Hundreds of French teenagers erected barricades outside their schools and marched through Paris to protest against the expulsions of immigrant families – including their classmates.

A few clashed with police firing teargas but most marched peacefully.

Anger erupted this week over the treatment of 15-year-old Kosovan Roma Leonarda Dibrani who was detained in front of classmates on a field trip.

The government said her family had been denied asylum and was no longer allowed to stay in France.

Such expulsions occur regularly around France, but Ms Dibrani’s treatment touched a nerve, with students and left-wing politicians alike saying police had gone too far.

The students hope to press the government into allowing both Ms Dibrani and a recently expelled Armenian boy to return to France.

At one high school in Paris students piled green rubbish cans in front of the entrance and hung a banner saying “Education in Danger.”

“Everybody should have a chance. Everybody should have a job, work and have a family.

“When children try to achieve that and France refuses, that is not my country,” said protester Romain Desprez.

The Dibrani family fled Kosovo about five years ago because they faced discrimination.

“My home is in France,” Ms Dibrani said from the Kosovan city of Mitrovica. “I don’t speak the language here and I don’t know anyone.

“I’m frightened, I don’t speak Albanian. My life is in France.

“I don’t want to go to school here and I do not want to stay here.”

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls had defended the deportation of Ms Dibrani, her parents and five siblings as legal, but ordered officials to review the handling of the case.

But, confronted with an angry backlash from the left of the ruling Socialist party, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault promised the family would be brought back to France if Ms Dibrani’s rights were found to have been infringed.

And National Assembly speaker Claude Bartolone underlined the extent of disquiet in the Socialist camp.

“There is the law but there are also values on which the left must never compromise,” he said.

Reporting of the Greek ‘blonde angel’ case is all the more bitter for those who know the myths that have dogged Roma history: here.

The Swedish police force in the southern region of Skane has a database containing the details of over 4,000 Roma, including 1,000 children. The revelation came to light in a report from daily Dagens Nyheter at the end of September: here.