On 5th March 1998 the Italian police arrested 3 anarchists on serious charges of "subversive association for the purpose of constituting an armed gang". They were accused of various direct actions linked to the popular struggle against the construction of the high speed railway through the Val di Susa in Piemonte. Now only one of the 3 arrested anarchists remains alive.
Edoardo Massari, a 38 year old anarchist from Ivrea, died in the Vallette prison in Turin on 28 March 1998. The authorities said he had hanged himself with a bed sheet.
Maria Soledad Rosas, 22 years old and from Argentina, hanged herself on 11 July - choosing the same day and time to die as her companion Eduardo. At the time she was under house arrrest, obliged to live in a residential home in the countryside near Turin.
The surviving prisoner, Silvano Pelissero, undertook a month long hunger-strike before, on 22 July, he was transfered from the maximum security prison of Novara to house arrest.
The anarchist and grass-roots oppositional movements have reacted to the deaths angrily and forcefully. There was a several thousand strong national demo in Turin on 4 April, following Edoardo's death, and a street blockade in Turin the day after Maria's death. On 18 July demonstrators picketed Novara prison to demand the release of Silvano.
Solidarity actions in Athens, Greece on 28 July saw 10 cars go up in flames at the Italian embassy and at Agencies belonging to Fiat and Alfa Romeo.
REPRESSION MEETS RESISTANCE
The charges against the three anarchists were not based on hard evidence. A much-publicised "arsenal" supposedly found in their home has never been shown to the public, nor has any expert evidence ever been presented. Along with the principal charge of "subversive association", the charges involved accusations of actions (theft, the throwing of petrol bombs) against the building work for the High Speed Railway through Val di Susa, against the Town Hall in Caprie and the construction site of the new court in Turin. The controversial High Speed Rail project is opposed by all in the area.
The arrests of the 3 comrades on 5 March were accompanied by police raids on 2 self-managed social centres in Turin. This met with an immediate response when the next day protestors took direct action on the streets of Turin. There followed a disgusting press campaign against anarchist punks and squatters, the social centres and the grass roots opposition in and around Turin. There were wild accusations of "eco-terrorists" and the like.
Following Eduardo's death on 28 March, demonstrators came to Turin from all over Italy for the 4th April demonstration. Anarchists, squatters, the self-managed social centres and sections of the autonomia movement all participated in a demo that was 5 - 8,000 strong. Tension was high as the demo came to the prison and to the court house; scuffles broke out between demonstrators and police and some stones were thrown.
The reaction to Maria's tragic death on 11 July was immediate. The following evening over a hundred protestors gathered in the centre of Turin. The road was blocked by a barricade of old furniture, wood and mattresses. A barrage of smoke bombs and flares transformed the scene. Paint sprayed messages appeared on walls. The anarchist radio station, Radio Blackout, broke its day long silence and started broadcasting a first hand account of the action, declaring "This is the first response to the death of Soledad".
Caught unawares by the secretly-planned action, the police were slow to react. Only after half an hour did they have sufficent reinforcements to charge the demonstrators. At this point the barricade went up in flames and the demonstrators disappeared amongst the smoke. No arrests.
Following his hunger strike, and the demo outside his prison, Silvano was transferred on 22 July to house arrest in a residential home in the Province of Turin.
THE STRUGGLE KNOWS NO FRONTIERS
In the early hours of 28 July the "Social Consent Arsonists" burnt out 2 cars at the Italian Embassy in Athens. Within an hour another 8 cars had burst into flames, 3 at a Fiat Agency and then 5 at the "Promat" agency, owned by Fiat and Alfa Romeo. A message telephoned to the Eleftherotipia newspaper declared that the attacks were "a demonstration of international solidarity for the murdered anarchists Edoardo Massari and Maria Soledad Rosas in a context of persecution and terror that the Italian State has recently launched against anarchists. Our common struggle against the State and the power knows no frontiers....Freedom for the imprisoned Italian anarchists."
20 people picketed the Italian State Tourist Office in London on 19 June in solidarity with Edoardo, Maria, Silvano and all the anarchists suffering state repression in Italy. Organisers included the Anarchist Communist Federation.
NO STATE NO PRISONS
An anarchist from Carrara wrote in the anarchist weekly Umanita Nova : "Edoardo proclaimed himself an anarchist, he was active in the struggle against the High Speed Railway: this movement was an obstacle to the restructuring process which has as its results the destruction of the environment of the area, the sackings of thousands of workers, the super-exploitation of the railway workers, to benefit a clique of businessmen and speculators.
To protect the right to exploitation the government forbade the right to strike to the railway workers. The scumbags of the state criminalise the most combative sections of the movement against the High Speed train.
Edoardo is a victim of the reaction of the institutions to popular opposition, he is a testimony to the struggle for the defence of the region and to the right to oppose those in power."
The Turin Anarchist Federation, members of the Italian Anarchist Federation, said "We know that everyone will talk about suicide. We prefer to call things by their right name. Suicide in prison is murder, a murder for which responsibility surely cannot be avoided by those who, like the magistrate, decided that Edoardo Massari should stay in a cell by himself, and therefore, in substance, in isolation. Our conception of anarchism was certainly different from that of Edoardo, neverthless his memory and his extreme choice of freedom will be spurs in the daily struggle of the exploited and the oppressed for a society without the state and without prisons. The new world that every anarchist carries in their heart cannot ever be suffocated by the walls of a prison cell."
¥ Umanita Nova , Corso Palermo 46, 10152 Torino, Italy Tel/fax 0039-11-857850
EMail email@example.com (weekly paper of the Italian Anarchist Federation)
¥ El Paso Occupato, Via Passo Buole 47, 10127 Torino, Italy.
Tel 0039-11-317 41 07 (self-managed squatted social centre)
¥ A-Infos news service http://www.ainfos.ca/
¥ For support and correspondence with imprisoned anarchists in Italy contact CAAA, CP 67, 66010 Ari-Chieti, Italy
¥ Organise : ACF, c/o 84b Whitechapel High St., London E1 7QX
Info from Umanita Nova (weekly anarchist paperof the Italian Anarchist Federation), Corso Palermo 46, 10152 Torino, Italy Tel/fax (011) 857850 EMail firstname.lastname@example.org
For latest news and info on how you can help Silvano, please contact Umanita Nova.