Torture in Genoa
- News for Anarchists & Activists:
August 8, 2001
Torture in Genoa
by Maria Tomchick, Eat The State!
Weeks later, I keep reading descriptions of the protests and
the savage police response in Genoa. The most horrific is
the raid by Italian national police on the people curled up
in their sleeping bags inside the Diaz School, one of the
buildings set aside by the Genovese government to house
activists during the G8 Summit.
One graphic description by Starhawk, a witness who was
inside the Italian Independent Media Center across the
street from the school, is worth reading and re-reading:
"The police entered: the media and the politicians were kept
out. And they beat people. They beat people who had been
sleeping, who held up their hands in a gesture of innocence
and cried out: 'Pacifisti! Pacifisti!' They beat the men and
the women. They broke bones, smashed teeth, shattered
skulls. They left blood on the walls, on the windows, a pool
of it in every spot where people had been sleeping. When
they had finished their work, they brought in the
ambulances. All night long we watched from across the street
as the stretchers were carried out, as people were taken to
the jail ward of the hospital, or simply to jail.
"And in the jail, many of them were tortured again, in rooms
with pictures of Mussolini on the wall" (http://www.zmag.org
). After emptying the school, the police went back inside
and attempted to wash away the blood and to hide the
evidence of their crimes, but there was too much blood on
the walls, the floor, the clothing, and sleeping bags.
It's hard to find good estimates of the injured, since the
Italian press is ignoring what happened at the Diaz School.
One source put the total at 100 people carried out on
stretchers or injured, another claimed 30 people were in
intensive care in the days after the raid. A number of
people who were beaten were treated in the hospital, then
released again into the hands of the police who had just
beaten them, only to be arrested and taken to jail to suffer
hours of torture.
Nobel Prize-winning playwright Dario Fo describes testimony
he took from the detained: "they were beaten, made to stand
spread-eagled for up to 12 hours, and those who were unable
to do it were beaten again. Every so often they threw tear
gas into the rooms or sprayed the kids with stinging gases.
"There was one non-EU man (a euphemism that usually means
North African) with an artificial leg, and one sick man who
could barely stand on their feet. Some were already injured
when they arrived, just released from the hospital, and they
endured the same torture. Almost all of those arrested were
later released, because there was no evidence of any kind
against them. One was a TV operator, Timothy Ormezzano, son
of a reporter from the newspaper La Stampa, with an injury
to the mouth, who was beaten all over his body. Alfonso De
Mauro, a photographer, tells the same story. He has a broken
foot, a cracked rib, a swollen face and a body full of
bruises...Mark Covell from England has a crushed chest, and
Lena Zulke, a German citizen, has a collapsed lung: both are
in intensive care.
"...There's also a police officer from the Bolzaneto
barracks who has spoken to the newspaper La Repubblica and
confirmed the horrific beatings, with agents urinating on
prisoners and extolling Nazism. Those arrested were not even
permitted to go to the bathroom and, after hours, ended up
soiling themselves. The officer says that many agents tried
to stop the brutality. But there was nothing they could do.
Those responsible for the injustices were for the most part
prison guards from the Mobile Operating Group in Rome. This
is a special team under the command of a former general from
Sisde (secret services), created in 1997 under the Olivo
(center left) government, and there had already been talks
of its violence during a raid on the Opera prison. This same
agent from the Bolzaneto barracks says the Rome Mobile
Division of the State Police was responsible for the savage
raid on the Diaz school..."
Starhawk, in her dispatches, adds: "That the police could
carry out such a brutal act openly, in the face of lawyers,
politicians and the media means that they do not expect to
be held accountable for their actions. Which means that they
had support from higher up, from more powerful politicians.
"According to a report published in La Repubblica from a
policeman who took part in the raid, when the more
democratic factions within the police complained that the
Constitution was being violated, they were told, 'We don't
have anything to be worried about, we're covered.'
"That those politicians also do not expect to be condemned
or driven from office means that they too have support from
higher up, ultimately, from Berlusconi, Italy's Prime
I would add, too, that they have the support of Berlusconi's
biggest backers, Italy's multinational business interests.
Ultimately, that's what it comes down to: the rights of
protesters versus the bottom line on a corporate balance
But hopefully more and more of the stories of people
brutalized in Genoa will appear, the press will pay
attention, and the tide of public opinion will turn.
Atrocities may happen under the cover of darkness or inside
the walls of a police precinct station. But once out in the
open, we won't tolerate them.
News for Anarchists & Activists:
"It's a political statement -- or, rather, an
*anti*-political statement. The symbol for *anarchy*!"
-- Batman, explaining the circle-A graffiti, in
_Detective Comics_ #608