View Full Version : Italy's Strategy Of Tension

05-02-2006, 08:43 AM
Italy's strategy of tension
Special report: globalisation


(Gold9472: I'm going to be adding more to this thread about the "Strategy Of Tension.")

Vittorio Longhi
Friday July 27, 2001
The Guardian

That night, under helicopter searchlights, in front of the special police special units, among the screams of young men and women, we were not in Genoa, nor in Italy, but in another place and another time - it all looked like an attempt to substitute the current order with a police state." That is how a group of criminal and civil lawyers from Milan, who witnessed last weekend's events in Genoa, have reacted to the authorities' actions, accusing them of lawless suspensions of the basic liberties of those demonstrators attacked or arrested in the G8 protests.

Along with the indiscriminate beatings, hundreds were deprived of their rights of access to lawyers and contact with their families. Yesterday 220 people remained under arrest, including 28 foreigners, while 90 people were released, without any explanation or excuse. The opposition was, meanwhile, up in arms in parliament, demanding an investigation into the widespread police abuses in Genoa.

There is no doubt that the Italian government broke some fundamental laws of the penal code. What happened in Genoa during the G8 summit has no precedent in Italy since the left-right street confrontations and the terrorism in the 1970s. But the difference between the hundreds of peaceful demonstrators and journalists beaten up in that school on Saturday night, and the ghosts of the Red Brigades or the fascist terror gangs of that time, should have been evident enough to the police and carabinieri.

Part of the Interior Ministry, the Italian police seem to have a power matched by no other European police, while the carabinieri are a military force and have once again demonstrated that they act like an army. Add to that a government whose ideology makes no allowance for legitimate peaceful protests or the damage that a culture of repression will do to Italy. Prime Minister Berlusconi and his post-fascist deputy, Gianfranco Fini, both visited Genoa in the run-up to the summit, with Fini boasting that he had personally finalised the security plans.

How different things would have been if the centre-left had still been in power is hard to say. Certainly, the magistrates would have been less marginalised and could have properly investigated what took place. But Berlusconi's unwavering support for the police is as well known as his aversion to magistrates. During the Tangentopoli bribery scandals of the early 1990s and other investigations into his business affairs, Berlusconi protested loudly about violations of human rights. But no one from his party, Forza Italia, has had a single word to say on the repressive violence in Genoa.

The centre-left's no-confidence motion in the interior minister, Claudio Scajola, will inevitably be voted down. What Scajola fears, instead, is a public investigation into both the police assaults and the connivance of the police with violent demonstrators. It is not clear yet how black bloc rioters could hang around the town undisturbed, when police already knew who and where they were. "The black blocs were an instrument of the police, it was a clear strategy," Luca Casarini, one of the leaders of the Tute Bianche (White Overalls) activist group, said yesterday. "I'm not saying everything was organised and planned in advance. But they used and helped hooliganism to justify the crackdown. Now the government feels free to attack us."

Everyone is wary of talking about a new "strategy of tension" - the name given to the collusion between parts of the Italian state, fascist terrorists and provocateurs in the 1970s - but Genoa social forum lawyers say they have damning and incontrovertible evidence of links between hooligans and police. Meanwhile, forum spokesman Vittorio Agnoletto has been sacked from his job as a consultant on drugs and youth problems at the labour ministry. Agnoletto is a doctor and president of Lila, the Italian league which helps terminal HIV patients. The labour minister, Roberto Maroni, from the Northern League, justified the sacking on the grounds that that Mr Agnoletto had spoken against the government in Genoa.

The Genoa events have at least had the effect of helping the Italian left to regroup. The leaders of the main centre-left party, the Left Democrats, kept away from the protests and none of their leaders marched with the peaceful army of 200,000 people, but they drew the line at Berlusconi's attempt to justify police violence, which reached its climax with the manslaughter of a 23-year-old boy. Now, in the aftermath, they are facing up to the fact that politics has gone back on the streets and all these people need to be represented. The possibility of a dialogue or even a loose alliance with those campaigning against neo-liberal globalisation has opened up.

• Vittorio Longhi is an Italian journalist based in Rome. longhiv@tiscalinet.it

04-18-2007, 08:50 PM

04-18-2007, 09:06 PM
Is it any surprise that the Italian government would do this? They're not exactly world renowned as a human rights government... In fact, name me one that IS...