This video from Italy says about itself:
9 December 2017
Demonstrators were joined by leaders from the governing centre-left Democratic Party (PD), including former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and ex-Spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Laura Boldrini.
Daniele Piervincenzi, Rai journalist and victim of a far-right attack, used a speech first given by former Italian President Sandro Pertini to address the crowd. “Freedom is a human need. It is not a function of political ideas, origin or religion. Social justice completes and strengthens freedom. Love for your country is not a folly, it is not imperialism, colonialism or nationalism. Love for your country should inspire love for other countries”, he said.
The anti-fascist demo was called for after Veneto Fronte Skinheads interrupted an aid meeting in the lakeside town of Como last week. Days later, another group, Forza Nuova, attacked the offices of liberal newspapers La Repubblica and L’Espresso in Rome.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
10,000 rally against fascism in Italy
Monday 11th December 2017
OVER 10,000 anti-fascists rallied in Como, Italy, on Saturday “against all fascism and intolerance.”
The demonstration was called in response to a growing number of violent incidents staged by far-right organisations.
Though the demo was organised by the governing Democratic Party (DP), it saw a huge turnout from across the Italian left, with banners from trade unions and the Communist Refoundation party as well as the National Association of Italian Partisans (Anpi), an organisation representing members of the second world war resistance that brought down Benito Mussolini’s fascist tyranny.
It featured an address by DP leader and former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi — but “the crowds were not for him,” Alessandro Pirovano of the communist Manifesto newspaper reported.
Placards of the CGIL trade union federation carried attacks on Interior Minister Marco Minniti, a fellow DP member, and Como Without Borders spokeswoman Annamaria Fracescato demanded a “radical change in the politics of the Italian government and the European Union regarding migration.”
Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the … 5-Star movement both declined to support the rally.
Chamber of Deputies president Laura Boldrini noted that there were elements in Italy who “always wanted to be lenient towards fascism, talking about a good fascism and a bad nazism.”
One incident involved members of the neonazi Veneto Skinhead Front bursting into a meeting on migrant housing on November 28 and declared resistance to the “invasion” of Italy by foreigners.
The group may also have been responsible for an attack on a centre for asylum-seekers in Como last Friday.
In another ugly episode, a dozen masked members of the far-right Forza Nuova launched an attack with flares on the headquarters of the Repubblica newspaper last Wednesday, denounced by the Communist Refoundation party as a “threat to press freedom.
“Although we do not feel represented by a newspaper that ignores us as a political force we express our utmost solidarity with its journalists. As far as we are concerned, fascism and racism are not opinions but crimes,” the party stated.
Is the Italian left waking up? ROSA GILBERT takes a look at the foundation of Potere al Popolo, a party seeking to challenge both the neoliberals in Rome and the far-right marching on it: here.
Virginia Raggi (@virginiaraggi) November 08, 2017
Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:
In Ostia, a seaside town near Rome, an Italian was arrested for headbutting a journalist. The arrested man, Roberto Spada, was interviewed about ties of his family with the extremely right-wing CasaPound party.
CasaPound received 9 percent of votes at local elections last Sunday. The state broadcaster RAI made a report about it.
Because the camera crew continued to film, there are clear images of the violence. Spada suddenly does a headbutt near the entrance of his gym and then smashes the journalist, who shouts that his nose is broken, with a stick as well. …
This video says about itself:
Evicted refugees left stranded in Rome
22 August 2017
Dozens of Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees have been camping in a square in central Rome since Saturday. Italian authorities evicted the refugees together with hundreds of other people from an office building where they’d been residing for years. The move has sparked angry reactions from humanitarian groups in Italy.
Max Civili reports from Rome.
From daily News Line in Britain:
Tuesday, 29 August 2017
LAST Saturday thousands of refugees and their supporters marched through the streets of the Italian capital, Rome, venting their anger over the police attack last week on a group of refugees forced to camp out in a city square.
Firing water cannons and wielding batons, police broke up the group of around 100 refugees, mainly from Eritrea, who for several days had been camped in the square in protest at an earlier eviction of a community of 800 who had been living in a nearby building for five years.
These refugees, the majority of whom have been granted asylum, have jobs in Rome and whose children are enrolled in local schools, were forced out from the building the Saturday before in a dawn raid by police after the city council claimed they had refused ‘alternative accommodation’.
In fact no such accommodation existed. The sole intention of the authorities was to re-claim the six storey building and end the established collective that had run peacefully for years. That the elderly, disabled and children were thrown onto the streets with nowhere to live meant nothing.
Saturday’s march calling for evictions to be halted and for refugees to be properly housed carried banners proclaiming ‘refugees not terrorists’.
While the attack on refugees in Rome attracted world-wide condemnation, the Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, met with the French president Emmanuel Macron and his counterparts from Spain and Germany for talks on how to cut migration from Africa to Europe.
In fact the decisions have already been made. Last month the Italian cabinet decided on a plan to send Italian warships into Libyan territorial waters allegedly to combat people smugglers – in reality they will be used to turn back boats with the agreement of Libyan authorities, who have granted the Italian navy a free hand to stop and turn back boats suspected of carrying refugees.
Returning refugees to hostile Libyan ‘authorities’ would be a death sentence for many of those trying to escape the terrorist gangs that run the country after the EU helped bomb the Islamist terrorists to power.
The EU is being torn apart with Italy warring with its EU partners, who have refused to share the burden of refugees fleeing the destruction of their countries by the same EU that now uses water cannon and batons against them.
The scale of the crisis was laid bare when Austria declared it was ready to send troops to the Brenner Pass, the border with Italy, in order to stop refugees entering their country. So much for the boast that the European Union is the greatest bulwark for peace and unity in the continent.
Workers across Europe can clearly see what the EU has always been, an organisation of bankers and bosses set up with one aim only – to exploit the working class at home and throughout the world for their own profit.
In the process they recruited thousands of Islamists who were sent in to Libya and Syria as allies of imperialism and so encouraged the destruction of the economies of these countries, forcing millions to flee for their lives and the hope of any kind of future.
Now the crisis that the EU caused has returned to create a huge crisis within the EU itself, pitting nation against nation at a time when they have a working class that is rising up and demanding an end to capitalist austerity.
The workers of Europe are learning that refugees are not ‘terrorists’, the real terrorists are the bosses and bankers who in their crises have declared war on the workers at home and the peoples of the world.
This German TV video in English says about itself:
Iuventa – Rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean Sea
25 July 2017
Join me in 360 on a rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea. The vessel “Iuventa”, Italian for youth, is run by volunteers of the German NGO “Jugend rettet”. Their area of operation is off the Libyan coast, the deadliest migration route. Lately, the rescuers are confronted with harsh criticism. What do you think?
After hardline European Commission pressure led to torturing refugees in Italy … now it leads to letting more refugees drown.
Translated from Dutch NOS TV:
Italy chains ship of German rescue organization
The Italian authorities have chained a ship from a German rescue organization which seeks to save refugees on boats. Italy accuses the organization of taking over refugees from human traffickers at the Libyan coast.
According to the Italian authorities, the aid organization is guilty of illegal immigration. But to Associated Press news agency, Public Prosecutor Ambrogio Cartosio says: “My personal conviction is that the motive [of Jugend Rettet] is humanitarian, exclusively humanitarian.”
So, apparently there is Mr Cartosio the human being, telling the truth.
And there is Mr Cartosio the robot of xenophobic governmental and European Union policy, making saving human beings from drowning a crime.
The Iuventa, navigating under the Dutch flag may no longer leave the port of Lampedusa, a small island near Sicily. The ship is manned by volunteers from the group Jugend Rettet (Youth Saves) from Berlin.
Fewer relief organizations
Italy wants to significantly reduce the number of aid organizations active in the Mediterranean area. The country only wants to allow ships from non-governmental organizations affiliated with Frontex, the European border agency for the external borders of Europe.
Dear Italian government: if a non-governmental organization gets affiliated with governmental Frontex, then it ceases to be ‘non-governmental’. Frontex aims to keep refugees out, whatever the cost in human lives. This is like telling a non-governmental organisation criticizing torture by police that they will be banned unless they affiliate with that torturing police force.
Accusations are false, Jugend Rettet says.
On August 3, the Italian government sent the frigate Commandante Borsini into Libyan territorial waters to stop refugees fleeing Libya for Europe. This violation of the sovereignty of Libya, a former Italian colony, aims to destroy refugee vessels and force refugees back into Libya, where the militias that have controlled the country ever since the devastating NATO war against Libya in 2011 detain them in appalling conditions: here.
This Associated Press video says about itself:
NGOs help rescue migrants in Mediterranean
(3 Feb 2017) The number of migrants risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean sea surged on Friday … an NGO operating in the area said.
The Aquarius was receiving assistance from a another vessel operated by Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish NGO, that rescued 222 migrants, including one baby and two children, from two boats on Friday.
There were more boats in the sea, said the Proactiva Open Arms spokeswoman Laura Lanuza.
The migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, were being transferred to an Italian port in Sicily, Lanuza said.
By Marianne Arens:
European Union and Italy step up pressure on organisations assisting refugees
29 July 2017
On July 25, Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti (Democratic Party) ordered representatives of nine non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in the rescue of refugees to attend a meeting at his ministry. There they were called upon to sign a “Code of Conduct,” restricting their activities in the Mediterranean Sea.
As the WSWS noted two weeks ago, the new code violates “existing law”: “On the high seas international maritime law prevails, which obligatorily demands the rescue of people in distress … this is precisely what the ‘Code of Conduct’ is designed to prevent the NGOs and their rescue boats from undertaking.”
Should NGOs fail to sign the sinister, illegal code, Italy has threatened to close its ports to their ships. This is the latest disgraceful attempt by Italian authorities to rein in the activities of voluntary aid organisations and thereby reduce the number of migrants arriving from Africa. They want to restrict the NGOs and drive them out of the Mediterranean—or at least transform them into reliable adjuncts of the European Union (EU) Frontex operation and the Italian coast guard.
The migrant flight route across the Mediterranean is extremely dangerous. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), as of July 23, 2,361 people had either died or gone missing in 2017, while some 95,000 migrants had reached Italy by sea. The dead include an estimated 300 children.
Without the NGOs, the number of drowned and missing people would be considerably higher. Currently more than 40 percent of refugees rescued at sea owe their lives to organisations such as Sea-Watch, Sea-Eye, MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station), Jugend Rettet (Rescuing Youth), Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, SOS Méditerranée, Proactiva Open Arms, etc.
“We are just in mid-July,” noted Timon Marszalek, the director of SOS Méditerranée Germany, “and we’ve saved as many people in the Mediterranean as we did last year. In view of the failure of the European Union, the intervention of civilian organisations like our own is indispensable to prevent the deaths of thousands of people.”
Marszalek pointed to one recent incident on July 11, in which a baby was born during a rescue operation. Mother and child were still connected by an umbilical cord when they were brought on board the Aquarius. This was the fifth birth at sea on this one rescue ship alone. “What would have happened if our team had not been there on time?” the SOS Méditerranée official asked. Such examples also show how desperate people must be to take to sea.
The “Code of Conduct” that NGOs are now being required to sign by the government of Paolo Gentiloni (Democratic Party) is a crude and deliberate attempt to sabotage rescue efforts. It establishes harsh guidelines and demands that refugees be transported directly to the Italian mainland instead of being transferred to larger ships belonging to the coast guard, merchant marine or navy. This forces the small NGO ships to undertake longer journeys and restricts their presence in the most dangerous waters where their work is most necessary.
Ruben Neugebauer of Sea-Watch told Deutschlandfunk (German radio): “What they want to achieve is obvious: they are trying to keep ships out of the danger zone because we undermine the concept of dying on Europe’s borders.”
NGOs are also forbidden to enter Libyan territorial waters, even if refugees’ lives are at stake. They must look on as people drown, without being able to intervene. NGOs must also accept Italian police accompanying their vessels to track down smugglers among the refugees. This can only lead to a worsening of relations between the rescue teams and refugees.
The “Code of Conduct” is not merely the work of the Italian authorities. It was agreed upon at a meeting of EU ministers in Tallinn, Estonia in early July. At that meeting German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière repeated his slanderous claim that NGOs were working with so-called people smugglers.
German newspapers have also run articles accusing NGOs of collaboration with smugglers. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung claimed, for example, that the rescue organisations were “involuntarily becoming an important element in the smugglers’ strategies.”
The Berliner Zeitung scandalously asserted that the NGOs’ role was not rescuing those in need at sea, but rather “assisting refugees and the transfer of emigrants.” The newspaper referred disapprovingly to Sea-Watch, based in Berlin. That organisation, which has not signed the “Code of Conduct,” rightly argues that there is already an International Law of the Sea, which obliges every boat owner to assist in sea rescue when necessary.
The Berliner Zeitung complains, however, that while it is “self-evident” that shipwrecked persons be saved, “this does not answer the question as to where to land those rescued. Sea-Watch 2 does not return the stranded to Libya, but brings them all to Europe.”
This slanderous article and the steps taken by the various EU interior ministers against the NGOs reveal there is a concerted campaign to drive private organisations out of the seas along the Libyan coast.
This campaign is bound up with unprecedented military deployment taking place in the Mediterranean off the North African coast. Taking part in the operation, which has been ongoing since June 2015 under the innocuous name of “Operation Sophia” (formerly known as Eunavfor [European Union Naval Force] Med), are the navies of Germany, Italy, Great Britain and other European countries.
On the same day the NGOs were summoned to the Italian Interior Ministry, the EU decided to extend the “Sophia” mission to the end of 2018. Officially, the remit of the operation is to combat “smuggler criminality on the Mediterranean” and thus prevent deaths at sea. In fact, the combined navies are responsible for just 8 percent of sea rescue operations.
In reality, mission “Sophia” is an important part of Europe’s plans for imperialist intervention in Africa. The Great Powers regard Africa as a strategically crucial area, with huge oil and natural gas deposits and other resources. With the war against Libya in 2011 and the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the new colonial “scramble for Africa” entered a new phase.
For the past six years the imperialist powers have been trying to install a new, reliable and loyal regime in Libya, which is key for access to Africa as a whole. This explains the background of a third important meeting in Paris on July 25: the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, invited the two main rivals in the Libyan civil war, Fayez al-Sarraj, the unelected head of the Western-backed Libyan Presidential Council, and Khalifa Hafter, [unelected] head of the so-called Libyan National Army and an “asset” of the CIA since the 1980s. The two men subsequently agreed to suspend their armed struggle and hold parliamentary elections in the spring of 2018. On Wednesday, Sarraj visited Italian government officials in Rome.
The EU has committed itself to continue financing the Libyan coast guard and equipping it with weapons. The European Union is supporting an organisation notorious for trafficking in human beings, torture and murder. At the request of the EU, the Libyan coast guard forces refugees into Libyan prisons, where around 300,000 people are currently being held under appalling conditions.
For their part, NGOs must decide whether or not to cooperate with the Italian government and sign the “Code of Conduct.” The NGOs rely on private donations and young volunteers. Their efforts demonstrate a widespread willingness to assist and defend refugees.
This readiness was confirmed a few weeks ago in a poll carried out by the European Broadcasting Agency. Almost 1 million young people between the ages of 18 and 35 were interviewed. Nearly three quarters (72 percent) said they were willing to actively support immigrants. Some 78 percent of respondents in Germany said they noticed growing nationalism, and considered it a bad thing. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of young people in Germany and the overwhelming majority of young people surveyed said they were not ready to fight in a war.
The poll demonstrates the abyss between the vast majority of the population and establishment politics. Millions of workers and young people express their solidarity with the refugees and are ready to help them, while the political elite and governments are permitting thousands to drown in the Mediterranean.