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Guy Taylor | 21.11.2002 17:34

Update on the state of ply with COBAS / Disobedients held under Mussolini's 'anti-terror' laws

The two women who were arrested and imprisoned last
Friday have now been put under house arrest. The rest are
in solitary confinement in high security jails. Apparently
they are all in good spirits. Under Italian law, they can
be held for ten days (until next Monday) before they have
to be committed for trial and a judge is called upon to
decide whether they can be released or not.
Last Friday there were several spontaneous
protests throughout Italy, and on Saturday there were demos
in about 30 cities, with 30,000 in Rome and 20,000 in
Naples - the main slogan being "Siamo tutti sovversivi"
(we're all subversives) - as they have been accused under a
fascist law of "subversion against State authority".
Tomorrow (Friday) there will be a "southern Social Forum"
in Cosenza, and on Saturday a national demonstration -
again in Cosenza.
The level of mobilisation has been remarkable. At a
meeting of the Genoa city council seven councillors
suddenly stood up, with their wrists handcuffed, shouting
"Siamo tutti sovversivi". Four of them were Rifondazione,
two were from the DS (Blairites), and one was Green Party.
Such is the strength of the movement that Pietro Folena
(roughly Robin Cook), went to visit those in jail.
The popularity of the movement has been revealed in
a recent opinion poll - which also explains why the
authorities are so desperate. In 2001 66% of Italians
thought the movement was a "positive" development.
Immediately after Florence this has risen to 70%, and what
is worrying for the government is that 58% of people who
vote for the centre-right coalition parties define it as
"very or quite positive".
No part of the movement has drawn back from
supporting those arrested. Even the Archibishop of Cosenza
has defined the accusations as "exaggerated". The Mayor of
Cosenza has said that she will set aside council buildings
for free, to enable demonstrators to sleep overnight.
The main focus is on the best known leader,
Francesco Caruso, so the last word to him - who manages to
smuggle out statements via the relatives, MPs and radical
priets who are allowed to visit him. There have been some
CGIL flags seen at some of the pickets held outside the
jails, and Caruso has been very strong in his support for
FIAT workers fighting to keep their factory open in Termini
One of the accusations they face is of having been
responsible for organised violence in Genoa. Caruso
answers: "They're reading things back to front, so in
Genoa the attacks were launched by demonstrators
against the police? So maybe in New York the Twin Towers
smashed into two airplanes? Perhaps it was us who tortured
policemen in the barracks, naturally after we had arrested
them? And it is the poor around the world who provoke hunger
in rich people, and it is the sea which pollutes petrol, and
children who kill Bush's Marines."
As regards the future, he says: "We've got to move
forward - you can't stop a rising tide - hopes and dreams
will defeat injustice and the arrogance of the system. They
can arrest us, but our ideas are spreading, growing and
moving. There is a famous poem by a Chilean poet Pablo
Neruda which says 'they can rip up all the flowers, but
they can't stop the Spring'... I might be locked up inside,
but in my heart I'm with the workers of Termini Imerese and
their families, and with my disobedient comrades. And I'll
be with them throughout this Saturday's demonstration in
Cosenza. Keep fighting: and together we'll keep racing
towards freedom."

Guy Taylor
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