Romani People in Italy – Milan in 2010, Warsaw in 1940

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In spite of the recent resolution issued by the European Parliament reasserting the illegality of the camp clearances without alternative lodgings; despite the warning from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that Roma settlements must be protected and the forced evictions stopped, the Milanese local authorities, undaunted, are still persecuting the Roma and Sinti communities present on its territory.

On April 9th, a deployment of 30 local police officers cleared the three settlements in Via Siccoli, Via Guglielmo Pepe and Ponte delle Milizie. More than 100 Roma citizens living in conditions of extreme hardship (among them sick and handicapped people, pregnant women and children) were charged with illegally occupying private land and forced to leave their makeshift shelters despite having nowhere else to go, or being offered any social assistance.

The huts the families were living in were bulldozed, while the areas will soon be “secured” to prevent the Roma or homeless returning to the site. While Riccardo De Corato, the deputy-mayor, gives interviews to newspapers and TV channels boasting about the operation that has led to the umpteenth humanitarian crisis, Milan has also adopted repressive measures against the Roma who live in “authorized camps”.

Before next summer, in fact, twenty surveillance cameras are due be installed over the entrances to the settlements in Via Triboniano, Via Idro, Via Chiesa Rossa and Via Martirano.

Those cameras will be linked up to police and Carabinieri stations to control the families living in the camp around the clock; families who have already suffered the humiliation of having to adhere to “a sociality pact”, which are special laws very similar to the rules in force in the ghettoes during the Nazi period. The project, initiated by the local authorities, has been approved by the City Police Chief, Gian Valerio Lombardi.

The cost of installing these cameras amounts to 479,000 Euros - an astronomical sum, 24,000 Euros per camera ! “With this amount, added to the other 12 million Euros that Milan spends every year on clearing Roma settlements,” say EveryOne Group's co-presidents, Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, “our organization could have funded thirty factories in the “Romasia Project”, and this would have provided a home and work for all the Roma families present in Milan today. Instead, these policies, which are prompted by racial hatred, have led to a huge waste in public money; offered a terrible image to the world of a city that claims to be a European metropolis - and caused a disastrous situation of hardship and marginalization for more than one thousand human beings”.

Let us not forget that Gypsy children in Italy – those from those special new camps particularly – have to wear badges on their clothing identifying as Gypsies. If that is not a rerun of the Nazi era then I do not know what is.

Britain 2010

In addition to that may I issue a warning to the Romani and Travellers in Britain for many of the local authorities intend to also place CCTV cameras on and near the official Gypsy Caravan Sites that they manage, with the cameras pointing into the sites in order “to monitor for acts of anti-social behavior. This is not part of a Tory manifesto, folks, but one that Labor has on its books.

Recently we were treated here to a publication by the government aimed at local authorities which is a guide on how to tackle anti-social behavior amongst Gypsies and Travellers. Could anyone imagine such a document to read as to tackling anti-social behavior amongst Blacks or Asians or Jews? No, and rightly so. But when it comes to the Gypsy then that all is OK under the British government and in the EU too.

Human rights for all unless they are Gypsy, it would seem to be the case.

© 2010