A wave of evictions and arrests of militants from radical and housing rights movements began just a few days after the notable victory of Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party in the European elections. The operation’s goal is clear: to evict and attack as quickly and effectively as possible during this honeymoon period between the electors and the Democratic Party (PD). Speed is of the essence as Italy will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from the beginning of July and protests have already been announced for July 11 when EU ministers meet in Turin to discuss youth unemployment.
On May 28, in Bologna, the university collective CUA (linked to the Autonomous movement) was evicted from the Studentato Taksim, a building which they occupied in October. The building had been abandoned and was occupied as a protest against the high rents and the lack of publicly funded accommodation for students from outside the city.
On June 3, the wave of repression hit Rome and Turin. In Rome, 150 people (including children) were thrown out of a housing occupation. Two key figures in Rome’s housing rights movement are now at risk of being sent to prison: Paolo di Vetta and Luca Fagiano had been under house arrest from May 20 but they have been forced to leave their (occupied) homes as these are now considered “unsuitable” for house arrest by the police. Yet Luca’s home had been considered suitable for this purpose by the very same magistrates just a few months ago.
In Turin, 29 activists from local movements were arrested or subjected to other precautionary measures for various charges linked to occupations and protests. The total number of people under investigation is 111 which includes three of the four NoTAV activists in jail for the quite incredible charge of terrorism. The police particularly focused their raid on the social center Asilo Occupato, established in 1995.
On June 4, people were evicted from the Buridda Social Center in Genoa. This space, linked to the Autonomous movement, was occupied more than 10 years ago and was an important center for culture and young people in Genoa.
These evictions, arrests and charges come hard on the heels of the May 20 approval of the so-called Lupi Decree, which establishes that it is now illegal to be resident in an occupied house. Residence is necessary to vote, for a migrant to receive a residence permit (and not, therefore, to be an illegal immigrant), to allow children to go to school, to receive health care services. The decree also forbids the connection of occupied houses to public services such as electricity, gas, water and telephone, and orders that any existing services should be disconnected.
It is clear that Matteo Renzi and his party are willing to destroy any radical opposition in Italy. They are now redoubling their efforts after an electoral result that is a real triumph for the third consecutive non-elected Italian government and as Italy’s presidency of the European Union comes into view.
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[en] Bologna activists banished from the city
[en] Ancona’s centre-left city council evicts housing occupation
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Why don’t people move south or to smaller cities where the rents are cheaper?
I also can’t afford living in Roma or Milano, but I won’t occupy somebody else’s house.
First of all freedom of movement is a basic right, nobody should be told where to live or to go. There are basically two reasons to occupy a house. One is political: by occupying a house you show misuse or abandon of social spaces that could be used, thus showing the real priorities of the government, and broadly show how gentrification sets priorities that are at least unpleasant for common people (why should i move aside if a big company wants to build a shopping mall? or on the contrary why should i live in a filthy outskirt because my area has no economical value?). Squats are also places where you experience different mindsets, a free place means white paper to write on: organize photo or book festival, hacking meetings, promote ecological lifestyle, talk about anti-proibitionism, organize partys and political discussions or demonstrations (I guess Loach last movie Jimmy’s hall is somehow about that) and finally help others by breaking the law once more maybe, but with a just cause. And here you get to the pratical reason: our system needs uneployment and low paid workers, either you lower your standards or you go illegal (=occupy a house to survive). Because one day they tell you that you can’t afford to rent a house, the day after that you can’t afford vacations, then that you’ll have a lower pay or that you have to heve sex with your boss to keep your job, that you can’t afford a child maybe and that you won’t have a job anymore. You set the limit for your dignity but any wrong decision may cost you a lot. A house is the very basic to defend this sort of integrity.
Freedom of movement does not include the right to move into somebody else’s property. Otherwise everyone could move to everybody else’s house all the time. Today you kick me out, tomorrow I kick you out, and so on, until nobody will build a house anymore (or more likely, people will get armed).
Basic rights are enforced against the state, not against other citizens (like the owners of a house).
Having a place to live is one requirement for dignity, I agree, but living in the center of Milano or Roma is not.
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