SchNEWS Of The World


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Italian Indymedia Raid

By Samantha Savage

When media activist Andrea 'Blutaz' Masu awoke in the early hours of 20 February he found himself face to face with a member of the infamous Carabineiri paramilitary police force. 'Who are you?' shouted the uniformed officer who had one of Blutaz's video cameras in his arms. 'No, who are you?' Blutaz replied from his makeshift bed.

It has since emerged that the police raid on Italy Indymedia's Bologna base ( had been ordered as part of an on-going government intimidation campaign. Since the now infamous anti-G8 protests which unfolded in July last year, several independent news operators across Italy have been targeted by the government including Indymedia and Rome-based Radio Onda Rossa, which had its broadcast licence withdrawn earlier this year.

'It wasn't just Bologna', explained 27 year-old Blutaz, who has been trying to find ways to continue his film-making and journalism since his equipment was seized. 'The police raided social centres throughout Italy ... Florence, Turin and the COBAS trade union offices in Taranto [a city in southern Italy] all on the same day.'

The official search warrant - carried out to seize materials on behalf of the Genoa Public Prosecutor - stated that the raid was aimed at gathering information on the violence "committed both by the protesters and against the protesters". It identified Italy Indymedia as being a crucial web-based point of information-gathering throughout the protests and stated that the raid was aimed at building up a "complete reconstruction of the events". Until now the Italian government has undertaken three limited enquiries into the summit-based violence and has yet to bring any official to justice. Several protesters - both from Italy and further afield - face long jail sentences on conspiracy charges connected largely to property destruction.

Many groups - including Amnesty International, the United Nations and representatives at the European Parliament - have continued to call for a genuinely independent enquiry into the bloody events which unfolded in Genoa last year and there is a growing sense of disquiet about the official explanation for the raids. "We want justice, of course we do ... Genoa was an outrage", explained Matteo, an Italian media activist who has been monitoring events in his homeland. "These raids were completely political - the police have got all the footage they could need ... they had helicopters and CCTV cameras everywhere ... also, they didn't raid any of the mainstream media ... The government has failed to give us a genuine enquiry and these raids are everything to do with intimidation and have nothing to do with justice".

Indymedia Italy are now challenging the state's decision to carry out the raid and there have been several mass actions across Italy, including Reclaim the Media Day in Rome on 16 March which saw a reported 20,000 on the capital's streets. There were also solidarity protests in several countries including an action in London in late February which saw people gather at the Italian embassy to tie video tape to the columns of the swanky Belgravia-based consulate.

Within Italy the mood of repression is growing. The March raids on Indymedia Italy were carried out by over 200 policeman backed up by dozens of armoured personnel carriers. Blutaz recounted the situation with disbelief and compared it to his first-hand experience during the notorious school raids which took place in Genoa last year. "I think my lucky angel must be having a holiday - I was in the school opposite Diaz on the night that it was raided and when I woke up to see a Carabineire officer staring at me that morning in Bologna I thought I was dreaming".

Pertini School - the building opposite the Diaz school where dozens of sleeping protesters were beaten and hospitalised by police officers in July last year - had hosted the international Indymedia network for the duration of the G8 summit. Police destroyed computers, media equipment and communications facilities during the raid and a legal battle for compensation is on-going. Pertini also played host to the umbrella group Genoa Social Forum (GSF) along with a range of other groups including legal teams, medical teams and radio project Radio G.A.P ( who also had equipment destroyed or seized.

The announcement in March by Italian Prime Minister - Silvio Berlusconi - to appoint several of his political allies to key executive posts within the Italian state-owned broadcasting corporation RAI has sent ripples across the Italian political system. Italian commentators have dubbed their own state a 'Banana Republic' and have called into question whether freedoms of expression can be guaranteed given that Berlusconi now personally owns - or has direct financial control over - 80% of the country's entire TV network.

"In Italy the state has a strong control over the press" explained Blutaz. "Indymedia Italy turned that on its head in Genoa - we issued hundreds of press passes to an army of dedicated DIY journalists ... now the state wants its revenge".

* A film detailing the events around Genoa and the situation following the protests in light of the clamp down on civil liberties titled 'Genoa Red Zone' is due for release from late May. Check for further information.

Carabinieri Style Attack In UK

by IMC-UK 12:09pm Sat Feb 23 '02
London police think they are Carabinieri as they attack peaceful demo outside the Italian embassy

At 2PM 35 people congrated outside the Italian embassy in Grosvenor Square in London in a peaceful protest with banners saying TELL THE TRUTH and SIAMO TUTTI INDYMEDIA (WE ARE ALL INDYMEDIA), holding video cassettes to symbolise the seizing of film in Italy. Video tape was also strung across the embassy front, and leaflets explaining the demo, the Italian IMC press release and the statement from the Italian legal team (who were also raided) were handed out.

Everything was calm and peaceful for 10 to 15 minutes with a small samba band playing until one police car turned up and the officers started to attack the crowd, pushing people off the pavement into the road. When people voiced objections and the legal right to protest, they were punched in their faces and batons were drawn.

One officer with number 320 repeatedly attacked peaceful demonstrators even after they had moved off the pavement. Several people have been injured, and 2 arrested.

One police officer was heard to say "I DONT GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THE LAW".

The protestors moved to the square/park and were being trailed by police when this report was coming in. Eventually seven police cars and six vans turned up. More reports later, including stills and video.

Two people have been arrested and later released with the charges of public disorder and threatening behaviour. They are due to appear in Court next Wednesday.