The 2005 Free Republic of Venaus reconquest, an important event in No Tav struggle history, has always been celebrated by the movement, but this year celebrations have been special. After the 23 October, and after the approval of a law that, from January 2012, will transform the TAV building sites in “strategical assets” (military zones), many have been wondering which way the movement should go. Several public assemblies took place (and were streamed on the web) in which the various committees and No Tav militants debated about the further steps, the first one being the 8 December. At the end it was decided that two actions would take place contemporaneously the 8, plus other events in the following days.
So on 8 December, in the late morning, three corteges left from Susa, Giaglione and Chiomonte The first of them was officially directed to a dismissed trucks terminal, but actually intended to block the international highway; the second and third were meant to join at Baita Clarea, a No Tav shelter near the police guarded fances, to try to cut them. For protesters it was not easy even to reach the beginning of the corteges, because of many police checkpoints and late arrivals of trains, and so all of the three moved later than expected, but in the end there were more than 10000 people in Susa and more than 2000 in the other two places.
Reaching Baita Clarea was hinded by a police order which, just like the 23 October, prohibited circulation to all cars and pedestrians in a very large area around the building site. Protesters also reported of obstacles put by police on the wood tracks, including barbed wire among the trees, but about 1pm the two corteges arrived and had a little rest for eating. At the same time the third cortege reached the highway, occupied and blocked it, set up a stage, a camp kitchen and two football goals, while very few policemen did nothing but observe from quite far.
Meanwhile at Baita Clarea, after the rest, people moved to the building site fences. At the beginning police reacted with hydrants, but since they had little effect, they start to use tear gas. As easily predictable, shooting them in a wood in autumn lighted many fires: protesters tried to extinguish them, always under policemen fire, and a 16 years old guy has been hit at the temple by a direct shot. In the first hours it seemed his eye was at risk but later news say it is safe, with a 30 days prognosis.
In Italy direct shot with tear gas is a crime but quite usual from police forces, as documented in the last part of this video (starting from 50″)
The battle went on for a couple of hours, with protesters successful in cutting fences in more than one point. In the last assault a large gate was battered down, but after this police forces reaction became heavier. Policemen even threw rocks at protesters which had to run away, leaving also Baita Clarea unguarded for some time. Police ravaged it and seized some equipment (a power unit, a fire extinguisher and other tools).
The police kept attacking and chasing protesters, pursuing them through the wood, and some were seriously injured. A national TV reporter was hit even after he shouted that he was a journalist; the evening his broadcaster transmitted an unusually balanced report, admitting police brutality and responsibility in starting the fires.
The highway occupiers, meanwhile, kept the block till late night, refusing to follow a police ultimatum which ordered to leave at 10pm. Barricades were built, some local bands played on the stage and, after the protesters from Clarea reached the blockade, a public assembly took place. Some militants underscored the importance of widening the struggle outside the building site, starting to hit the flows behind the TAV project and its militar deployment. The highway occupation seemed to many a good starting point in this direction, while others note that it could have been much more effective and that it shouldn’t have been seen as a side or disturb action just to help the fences cutting.
– text [en] NoTAV movement
– text [en] Brief history of NoTAV struggle
– photo ‘baita clarea’ after police raid
– video [it – but mainly images] A video of last moments of the struggle in Chiomonte
– video [it] Rai 3 (national tv) on the protest
– video [en] Teargas shot to eye level
– text [en] NowItaly’s article
– text [it] “La stampa” (Torino’s main newspaper) article
– text [it] “Il manifesto” (left wing italian newspaper) article