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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 (http://italy.indymedia.org) 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broadcast licence withdrawn earlier this year.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
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 (www.radiogap.net) who also had equipment destroyed
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
http://uk.indymedia.org 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 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
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.