BY ROBERTO MALINI-EVERYONE GROUP
Pesaro, April 28, 2012. This morning Silvano Zanchini and Valeria Novelli, the lawyers who defended us in the criminal proceedings in the Court of Pesaro, informed us of the judge's verdict: we have been acquitted under Article 530 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, "because the action did not constitute a crime”.
The “decreto penale” (criminal order) Dario and I were notified with two years ago that foresaw a prison sentence (later to be commuted to a hefty fine) for "interrupting a police operation" has been overturned by this new ruling. The police officer's accusation was contradicted by the truth. This sentence also attests that the work of a human rights defender, protecting fellow human beings in distress, can also be carried out in the presence of the police, and during police operations that encroach on the person's human rights and liberty.
In Italy, unfortunately, this almost never happens, and many human rights activists have received unfair verdicts because of their humanitarian work. It should be pointed out that in recent times the police have often responded with extreme harshness towards human rights defenders, who are treated as obstacles to police operations (even when these operations affect vulnerable individuals and communities, and cause serious injury to children, pregnant women, and sick people in need).
EveryOne Group's human rights defenders have always acted conscientiously, using a non-violent attitude in its defence of the principles contained the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Whenever the work of law enforcement agencies has failed to show a respect for these principles, using actions that violate the integrity of the person and the family, our activists have always taken non-violent actions to protect the victims, even in the face of intimidation, threats, insults, and unjust rulings from the authorities.
Despite the activists suffering severe persecution, our work has saved lives, averted humanitarian tragedies, and prevented the fundamental rights of discriminated-against minorities being trampled on. In some cases, unfortunately, our non-violent actions have not been sufficient to prevent real tragedies taking place, such as on 25 February 2009, during the police eviction of an abandoned factory in Pesaro, in Via Fermo, 49, when two unborn babies in their mother' wombs lost their lives because of the terror caused by the police operation. (http://www.everyonegroup.com/it/EveryOne/MainPage/Entries/2009/6/1_La_fabbrica_della_morte.html).
We disobeyed unjust orders on that occasion too (not to go to the aid of the two young women who had fallen to the ground) and we avoided a humanitarian tragedy, including the unjust removal, by the authorities, of several Romani children from their families
The trial in Pesaro should never have come about, because no judge should deny people who are being discriminated against, excluded, people who are poor and often sick, the right to humanitarian assistance. No judge should consider sending to prison those who defend the lives of children, women and men, people in distress, without shelter and without social support. Yesterday, the Public Prosecutor once again requested a prison sentence for me and Dario Picciau, even after listening to our version of the facts, as well as the witnesses' testimony. The Court issued the only civil and just verdict, though several questions still remain.
In the days before the hearing, many human rights defenders from around the world raised their authoritative voices to demand justice for our cause.
Maria Bravo Krysta, president of Smocsa - Single Mothers and Child Support Agency;
This victory for human rights, which is a historical event in Italy, a country where institutions and the judicial system protect (as rightly pointed out by the President of Union Romani) the authorities that put in place the anti-Roma and anti-migrant policies promoted by the government and taken up by politicians and the media. It should be noted that the Italian media are financed by the Italian State and thus by the same politics that promote evictions, expulsions, social exclusion, as well as the persecution of Roma and other ethnic minorities, and human rights activists. Regarding the case of Pesaro, despite authoritative interventions from all around the world and the peculiarity of such an unusual charge being brought against Dario and me, the national and local press completely ignored the news - except for the courageous "Vivere Pesaro", an online newsletter which covered the news in full. No journalists turned up at the Courts, although we had sent them all an invitation. Which goes to show that in certain circumstances, Italy can be very coherent and united! With regard to yesterday, it should be noted that after the trial the police officer came up to us, and after a brief conversation he said to Dario and me: "The way you defend human rights, sooner or later they will crush you."
After the trial, we went to eat lunch at a restaurant on the seafront. Mia Copalea, a Romanian Roma woman was with us, proudly dressed in the traditional Roma dress, with a beautiful long orange skirt. As we entered the restaurant, a waitress turned to her and said: "You can't come in here". We protested, explaining that Mia was our friend and we wanted to have lunch. The waitress looked towards the restaurant owner, who shook his head. "No, she can't come in." After a few suitable words to the owner and the waitress, we left the restaurant and went to another one where we were served in a courteous and friendly manner. Then Mia Copalea and her son Ipat accompanied us to the station, while many people in Pesaro looked towards our group with disapproval.
Now the theatre of intolerance and legal persecution moves to Milan, where Dario Picciau, Matteo Pegoraro and I, the three co-presidents of EveryOne, are due to appear before a judge to answer to another offence, that of defamation (we are collecting a whole series of "crimes" that are sewn on humanitarian activists like Stars of David): http://www.ilrestodelcarlino.it/pesaro/2008/07/22/106380-malata_cancro_medici.shtml)
Today we are celebrating the triumph of truth and justice, but already this morning we were called out to defend four young Roma who yesterday moved into an abandoned house to seek shelter for their families and small children. Despite the protests of EveryOne Group and Nazione Rom, which showed that the four young men are innocent because they acted out of necessity (art. 54 of the Italian criminal code) and seeing they are responsible for children and in need of a shelter to protect their health, which is safeguarded by the Constitution (art. 32) the police still arrested them and the young men now risk a prison sentence."The way you defend human rights, sooner or later they will crush you," the police office told us. In the present climate, this is very likely, but we are attempting to teach our methods of non-violent defence of the persecuted minorities to a lot of young people. If Roberto, Dario and Matteo are stopped (note that it is not only policemen, judges and politicians who want to stop us, there are are also neo-Nazi and racist groups that have added our names to their "black lists"!) it certainly will not stop the ideals or commitment of the Righteous for equality and dignity of all peoples, against intolerance and persecution. Dead or alive, free or behind bars, we will be in the songs of those who celebrate justice and in the hearts of those who refuse to yield to hatred.