Italy: ‘No Tav’ mass protests

Brutal repression

In the last few days we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the level of repression in the Susa Valley. Work on the enlargement of the building site for the high speed train (TAV) yard has led to dozens of illegal expropriation of land owned by activists in the No Tav movement. Protestors have been arrested, beaten and attacked even in their own homes.

On February 25, a demonstration marched between Bussoleno and Susa, two of the most important and symbolic cities in the valley. According to the organisers the march brought together between 70,000 and 100,000 people. Streams of people from all over Italy have brought solidarity to the movement – representatives of citizens movements, union leaders such as Giorgio Cremaschi and Maurizio Landini from the metal worker’s union Fiom, representatives of community centers and various social organizations took part in this great event. A few Greek flags bore witness of the unity in the struggle of ordinary people against the same jackals who are eager to make money from unnecessary huge building projects and to impose cuts and austerity policies elsewhere.

As ControCorrente we actively participated in the demonstration. The headline of our paper – ‘Resistenze’, "From Athens to Susa … this is the democracy of the market" summed up the situation.

The entire event was completely peaceful and a huge success. But senior police officers were ordered to attack the protesters coming home from the demo. At the Turin Porta Nuova station hundreds of officers in riot gear attacked passengers on a train bound for Milan, firing CS tear gas in the cab of the train. Many passengers were injured, some of them in the head. The message emerging from this is very clear: "we will no longer tolerate any form of protest whether peaceful or violent."

The entire area of the site for the TAV has been transformed into an area ’of strategic interest for the country’, patrolled by hundreds of police and soldiers, including the 2 ° Alpini Regiment which has just returned with its war vehicles from Afghanistan and is now militarily occupying the site.

During the expropriation of land around the site a well known No Tav activist , Luca Abbà a farmer and owner of a piece of land that was to be expropriated climbed a high voltage pylon in protest. He was followed by a climber of the ‘carabinieri’ (military police) who wanted to force him to come down. In his attempt to escape from those who were coming after him, Luca was electrocuted and fell 15 metres.

The police left Luca on the floor for 40 minutes before allowing the rescue services to arrive. Fortunately Luca is alive and his condition seems to be improving although he remains sedated in a coma.

The police filmed the whole scene but has released only a portion of the video. Demonstrations were organised all over Italy to protest at what happened to Luca.

On the night of 29 February the repression escalated. The protesters occupied two carriageways of the motorway and water cannon, CS gas, a bulldozer and armoured police were used to remove them. The police then raided public places smashing windows in search of No Tav activists and firing tear gas straight into local people’s houses. This video documents the police raid at the restaurant "La Rosa Blu" of Chianocchio.

Many demonstrators were injured including Nicoletta Dosio, one of the most prominet , historical No Tav leaders and a ControCorrente member. Nicoletta, a 67 year old woman, was insulted, tugged by her hair, pushed to the ground and beaten with batons. She was held by police and then released late at night. Six other activist were taken to Turin and will be probably be prosecuted.

While the repression of all dissent in the Valley and everyone who resists has escalated, the bourgeois press including the leading national papers ’Corriere della Sera’ and ’La Republica’, and ’La Stampa’ of Turin have waged a shameful media campaign aimed at discrediting the whole movement. The bourgeois press is shovelling a huge quantity of mud against the movement hoping to break the vital link between the Valley and other hotbeds of resistance in the rest of the country. Their attempt is having the opposite effect with solidarity protests taking place all over Italy. Where was the bourgeois press when the No Tav were beaten, gassed and arrested? When many of the main exponents of the No Tav movement had their cars set on fire?

At a crowded meeting held in Bussoleno the NO TAV committee asked for support from the whole country on 1 March at 6pm, "That every city, every town is mobilised, and shows where they stand."

ControCorrente asked all its supporters in various cities to participate, organise and promote events, blockades and demonstrations in solidarity with the No Tav movement and all the victims of repression.

In front of the movement stand a ‘technocratic’government of big capital, supported and defended by all the major parties. This governement wants to crush the No Tav movement because it is a too dangerous example which could inspire many people. They want to hit the Valley to ‘educate’ hundreds; they want to make clear that dissent, protest, strike and independent political action will not be tolerated. They are well aware that the No Tav movement is an example of exceptional strength,and that thousands and thousands of political, social and trade unions activist look at the Valley as a stronghold, as the capital of resistance in the country from Venice to Palermo.

Our comrades will continue to support in every way the heroic struggle of Val Susa and put pressure on the labour movement and union leaderships to declare a general strike in solidarity with the movement.

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March 2012