Tuesday, June 8, 2010
To prevent a humanitarian tragedy taking place the institutions have to stop the evictions and abuse, and guarantee the 100 families living in the camp alternative housing, social assistance and a serious integration programme.
The anti-Roma campaign being carried out by the Italian politicians with the backing of the media must also be stigmatized. The United Nations and the European Union have a duty to watch over the events unfolding in the Triboniano camp, to ensure yet another camp clearance does not take place without the offer of alternative housing. Police officers in riot-gear have charged and beaten up people with truncheons, used rough treatment against women and children, summary arrests, threats, limitation of freedom, special laws, expulsions based on racial discrimination, anti-Roma propaganda
An appeal for urgent intervention,
The European Parliament, The European Commission, The Council of Europe, The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
Milan, May 24th 2010. Serious violations of human rights are taking place at the Roma camp in Via Triboniano, in Milan, where a community of Roma families (about 600 people, with a high percentage of children) are living in conditions of extreme hardship without any rights, and with a special pact to be respected (like in a ghetto) punishable by the expulsion of entire families.
The city institutions had planned the camp clearance some time ago: the land the camp is situated on is needed for the urban planning of Expo 2015. Over the last few months numerous families with small children and sick members have been kicked out of the camp (without an offer of alternative housing) for “breaking” the special law - for example, for giving shelter to unauthorized family members.
The local authorities are also installing 20 surveillance cameras to keep an eye on the community. On May 20th, a group of Roma, after informing the authorities of their intentions, set off for Piazza Scala, in the centre of Milan (far away from the camp) for a peaceful sit-in in front of the Town Hall - during which they intended to appeal for decent housing, schooling for their children and dignity for all Roma families.
However, a large police turnout prevented the group of 300 Roma (many of them women and children) from leaving the camp, and when they protested (the Constitution guarantees freedom of movement and the right to demonstrate peacefully) the police charged, hitting out wildly with their truncheons.
The Roma – men, women and children - responded by picking up stones and throwing them at the violent officers who were in anti-riot gear. In the meantime, a delegation of qualified humanitarian operators (including the co-presidents of EveryOne Group) went to the Town Hall and asked to speak to the mayor or the deputy mayor, in order to call for an end to the violence and for talks to take place, but no appointment was fixed.
The human rights defenders were not allowed to witness the police operations and were kept at a distance of a kilometre from the camp. Many Roma were wounded or bruised, but they were unable to get to hospital for treatment fearing arrest for “resisting a police officer”. An elderly Roma man (who was caught unawares and hit by a truncheon) was arrested and his family have no idea of his whereabouts. Two young children received several truncheon blows.
EveryOne Group, which already back in 2007 found itself having to protect with “Gandhian resistance” some families with small children from a violent attack by the police (and have on several occasion reported the violations in the Triboniano camp to the international authorities) considers the human rights situation in the Milanese camp extremely dramatic. On the one hand, because the camp is subjected to special laws (like in a ghetto) and on the other because no integration programmes have been set up (the Italian government and local authorities have failed to make use of European funds put aside for this purpose).
There have been several cases of families being kicked out of the camp, leading to serious humanitarian disasters (for example, the rights of the child are constantly being violated) and the authorities have carried out brutal and pointless actions as well as routine threats.
“Anyone who supports them, will end up in jail”: said De Corato, the deputy mayor, threatening the humanitarian operators and the defenders of human rights. On Sunday May 23rd an assembly was organized for three o'clock in the afternoon at the camp despite intimidation towards the Roma and activists from the authorities. Several human rights associations were present at the meeting. However, the constant presence of riot police is discouraging most of the humanitarian workers from taking part in these democratic reunions, and the human rights defenders are being kept at a distance during police operations.
Anyone entering the camp - even if only to help the children and the sick - are immediately joined by the police and questioned. EveryOne Group, which was present at the assembly with some of its members, report a situation of inhuman and total marginalization, and a camp clearance project without sufficient alternative housing and integration programmes. There is no form of welfare in the camp. The fact that some children go to school is just an illusion: soon they too will be kicked out of the camp and the city along with their families. The position taken by the media is one of racist propaganda: the national TV news and newspapers offer only the politicians' side to the problem, while human rights activists are often interviewed but their statements are never made public - apart from through anti-racist websites and blogs., Subjected to one-sided information, every day the Italian people's hatred for the Roma grows.
EveryOne Group wishes to express its deep preoccupation and ask the European Parliament; the European Council; the Council of Europe; the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to closely monitor the humanitarian situation at the Via Tribonio camp in order to discourage the institutions and the police force from continuing with these intolerant and repressive measures. Measures that are in violation of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights and against the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Group asks that suitable measures be taken, seeing that the Italian Government and local authorities have shown time and time again a public mockery for the resolutions, warnings and recommendations issued by the EU institutions and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
May 23, 2010.
We await an urgent and supportive response to our appeal, and take the opportunity to send you our best regards.
For EveryOne Group: Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro, Dario Picciau, Glenys Robinson
Posted by Morgan at 3:35 PM