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Detainee hunger strikes and arrests in Italy

tiz | 09.03.2010 23:48 | Anti-racism | Migration | Repression

Hunger strike in detention centre in Italy; people involved in the grassroots campaign against detention and racist laws are arrested on 23rd February

- Hunger strike in detention centre in Italy

On the 1st of March, as large demonstrations and numerous workers' strikes
were taking place in various cities in Italy in occasion of "the day
without migrants" (the first strike of migrant labour in Italy), protests
were started also by the migrants in the detention centres ("the Centre
for Identification and Explusion that detain undocumented migrants in

Detainees in five detentions centres have been on hunger strike: Milan,
Turin, Bologna, Gradisca, and Rome. The first protest was started in the
"Ponte Galeria" detention centre in Rome, where, following new and further
restrictions to the already few hours' breaks allowed for detainees, the
latter rebelled against the policy of the company running the centre: they
set fire to the mattresses and other fabrics in their cells to make their
voices heard against their conditions in detention.

As soon as the detainees in the other large detention centre, the
"Corelli" in Milan, heard about the rebellion in Rome, they assembled in a
plenary and decided to start their own protest in the form of a hunger
strike. In a short time, through continuous consultations across the
different detention centres, the struggle spread to include other centres
in the country, Ponte Galliera-seciton A, Milan, Bologna, Gradisca and

According to a testimony by one of the migrant detainees in Milan, 20
people started the hunger strike against their intolerable situation,
where room walls went mouldy and sheets are changed once every week.
Hygienic conditions are terribile and toilettes are out of order.

While migrants are protesting against the injustice of their detention,
their refusal of food is also a response to the practices of the guards
who are keen to administer drugs (including Valium) on detainees, putting
these drugs in the food and drinks provided by the centre with the aim of
sedating and 'calming down' the migrants' protest.

Like those in the UK, the hunger strikes and struggles of migrants locked
up in immigration detention centres do not easily reach the public and
hardly confront the hositility of 'public opinion' and mainstream media.
Yet, there are various groups of activists supporting the hunger strikers
and fighting against the regime of migrants lagers (detention camps).

Despite the strikers' feeling increasingly weak, the strike continues
with a lot of determination, with the support of the anti-racist groups
who have been bring water and juices to the detainees inside and keep
continuous contact with them. Various mobilization are taking place to
show solidarity with the protesters in Milan and other Italian cities. A
demonstration has been called for 13th March in front of the immigration
detention centre in Rome.

- People involved in the grassroots campaign against detention and racist
laws are arrested on 23rd February

After two evictions and repeated physical harassment by the police, the
repression in Torin became more targeted: on the 23rd February, 24 police
raids on activists' homes and the BalckOut radio station (a free radio in
Torin) took place; several arrests were made.

Members of an antiracist grassroots campaign that had been campaigning
against immigration detention centres were charged with being involved in
a "criminal organisation". Three of them are still imprisoned as a
"precautionary arrest", while another two are under house arrest.

Over the past few months, antiracist grassroots groups and Radio BlackOut
have been organising sit-ins and other events against immigration
detention centres in Italy, trying to raise awareness about the horrible
conditions in detention and the suffering of the migrant detainees. The
three people in prison are the creators of a blog called Macerie
( which is updated on a daily basis with
a lot of news on antiracist struggles and the voices of the people in
detention in Italy.

As written on the blog, "We know that the reason for [the three blogers']
imprisonment is this website; because they had the courage to spread the
voice of the resistance of the migrants incarcerated in the immigration
detention centres all over Italy."

Solidarity with the hunger strikers, and solidarity with everyone who is
persecuted for supporting them.
No more prisons; without their freedom, we will never be free.

For further info (in italian):