The border system crushes thousands of people every day. What is happening between Syria and Turkey, between Turkey and Greece, in the Aegean archipelago, at the border between Bosnia and Croatia, in detention camps in Libya and in the Mediterranean Sea confirms that walls and hunting the poor are the face of the present time. While goods travel freely from one end of the planet to the other, human beings are ruthlessly divided into those who can cross borders and those who can’t: between the drowned and the saved, to quote Primo Levi. First an economic order – devastating in its logic of war and increasingly plundering raw materials, ecosystems and food self-sufficiency – lays out the conditions for which millions of women and men are forced to leave the lands where they were born and grew up; then a gigantic apparatus of barbed wire, electronic surveillance and concentration camps is driving this « human waste» to a terrifying obstacle race; those who survive the selection must at this point be so exhausted and frightened as to accept any conditions of life and work in the countries where they arrive. And finally, precisely for this reason, they can be pointed out by institutional and social racism as scapegoats to be blamed for everything.
At the end of 2015, as the Austrian State declared its intention to build up an anti-immigrant barrier at the Brenner, the complaints made by the Italian institutions only concerned the negative repercussions that the wall would have on goods transit. As an emblem of a past that doesn’t go away, the press conference on the project of the barrier was given directly by the Austrian police and everything was presented as a mere «technical solution» for the management of borders. The expression itself − «technical solution» − should make your blood boil.
As the dance of crossed declarations between the Austrian and the Italian governments was being staged, police controls on OBB trains were already taking place on Italian soil and the «technical solution» had already moved south. For months anyone who didn’t have a white face couldn’t even board those trains, in Bolzano as well as in Verona. After all the border-system is a mobile device, at one with police raids and centres of administrative detention. (And it should be a matter for reflection that the «technical solution» itself was adopted a few months ago in order to control and expel those who resulted positive to Covid-19 among the drivers and passengers heading to Austria: the possible “infected ones”, this time, were us).
For all these reasons someone blocked OBB trains on various occasions; that is why in the previous months, during the demo of 7th May 2016, many stressed the concept that «if people can’t pass, goods can’t pass either»; hence the speeches on how to make the running of that abomination called «technical solution» fail.
What the prosecutors presented as a sort of design plotted by some “leaders” and carried out by many “followers”, was simply the feeling that it was necessary to react against that injustice. The “honest citizens” who now don’t want to distinguish what is legal from what is right – who fall asleep, that is, into the obedience which Hannah Arendt’s words warn us against («Nobody has the right to obey») and who the institutions in their great hypocrisy allowed to sit before this court – closely remind of those who turned the other way when Jewish people were being deported and partisans were being shot in this country.
And now let’s come to the trial. The crime of “devastation and looting” – as such and even more in the way it was interpreted by prosecutors – comes directly from the 1930s fascist code. It had already appeared in 1859 with article 157 of the Kingdom of Sardinia’s code and in1889 with article 252 of the Zanardelli code. Moreover in those cases explicit reference was made to the civil war and massacre, but the sentences foreseen ranged from 3 to 15 years. On the contrary, in the fascist code that little thing called civil war disappeared, while the basic sentence foreseen by article 419 was made to start at 8 years. Then “democracy born from the Resistance” arrived, you’d say. Article 419 is still there and so are the sentences involved. Now, as in this way judicial absurdity is reached so that, compared to it, one risks decisively less with the charge of participation in an “armed insurrection against the State’s powers”, that described in article 419 has remained a so- called dormant crime for a long time. One of the few cases from 1945 to the end of the 1990s where it was applied was that of the insurrectional uprisings that broke out in 1948 following an attack on Togliatti, during which partisans armed with machineguns took to the streets in some cities… Today the threshold of accepted dissent is getting very low so there is an attempt to apply – in some cases even successfully – the charge of “devastation and looting” to demonstrations for which even the mention of “large scale destruction” would appear grotesque. So we come to the request, formulated in this court a few months ago as if it were an ordinary shopping list, for 338 years’ prison. All this accompanied by a damage compensation of 8 thousand euros demanded by the Ministry of the Interior… Then we are leaving the question to the lawyers– actually a much more political than a “technical” one – of the casual way in which dozens of people were accused of material and moral collusion in resistance and bodily harm by virtue of a mere presence at that demonstration.
As emerges from leaflets and other material mentioned, and even from footage obsessively shown in previous hearings, the intent of that demonstration was to block communication lines – in fact the demonstrators were charged by police and carabinieri precisely as they were turning towards the railway. “If some can’t cross the border, then nothing and nobody can cross it”: sometimes certain ethical concepts need a generous practical demonstration.
Borders kill. By drowning, freezing, with accidents on mountain paths and railways. Or directly, with police bullets, as happened in Greece thanks to actual legitimization given by the European Union. We don’t want to be the accomplices of all this.
Each to their own. As far as we are concerned, we claim the sense and the spirit of that 7th of May with our heads held high. As a sign of anger at a thousand forms of State racism. As an expression of solidarity with hunted humanity. And as a sign of support. Towards agricultural workers in struggle in southern Italy, towards the immigrant women who are rebelling against trafficking, towards the prisoners in revolt in the concentration camps of democracy. Towards those who everywhere in the world don’t step aside or yield, because they love the freedom of all to such a point that they put their own at stake.
We won’t pose as the victims of repression. We are aware of what is involved in our being on the side of the damned of the earth and against power’s plans.
May the time of submission come to an end.
Bolzano, 11th September 2020
Agnese Trentin, Roberto Bottamedi, Massimo Passamani, Luca Dolce, Giulio Berdusco, Carlo Casucci, Giulia Perlotto, Christos Tasioulas, Francesco Cianci, Andrea Parolari, Mattia Magagna, Sirio Manfrini, Luca Rassu, Roberto Bonadeo, Marco Desogus, Gianluca Franceschetto, Gregoire Paupin, Claudio Risitano, Guido Paoletti, Daniele Quaranta
Translated by Act for freedom now!