There are still 381 people locked up in CPRs in Italy, 33 women and 348 men, according to an update issued on 24th March by the National Guarantor for persons deprived of freedom. In spite of the fact that a pandemic is upturning the world, no measures have been taken by the authorities to ward off the risk of the epidemic spreading like wildfire in the restricted cells that people are crammed into in the CPRs, just as in the prisons on the other hand.
Deportations have been stopped for weeks also because of border closures in the countries of origin (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, etc.) and repatriation flights have been suspended, however the people locked up in State concentration camps are not all being freed. Only 44 people were released between 12th and 14th March.
On the contrary, some people are still irresponsibly being taken into CPRs.
Just yesterday, 25th March, the mayor of Gradisca d’Isonzo confirmed that someone transferred from Lombardy to the local CPR on 19th March had tested positive to covid19 two days earlier and was put in isolation.
In these weeks of collective quarantine there is no possibility of organizing solidarity gatherings and CPRs are surrounded, even more than usual, by a wall of silence and indifference. Nevertheless news of protests of the people locked up is coming out.
CPR of Palazzo San Gervasio
Between 10th and 11th March, the days of the revolts in the prisons, alerted police along with antiriot squads from Bari and Bologna repressed a collective escape attempt, searching all the cells and seizing plaited ropes and hand-made steel harpoons ready for use.
On 15th March the prisoners started a hunger strike, which has been going on for over a week.
Prisoners’ relatives and comrades say that they don’t feel safe in the CPR, as the 55 guards on duty and the operators going in and out of the concentration camp don’t wear masks or gloves and the 30 or so prisoners “Are given no protection against the coronavirus. Many are suffering from various conditions which aren’t checked or treated adequately, if they are in pain they are administered medicines which they don’t know the name of or its side-effects. There is no heating, the water is cold, used blankets haven’t been disinfected and have caused allergies in some people, and hardly any clothing being delivered. Visits from lawyers are not permitted”.
The fact that the centre is still open is even more cynical given that it was due to be emptied in a few weeks’ time for restructuration work needed as a result of damage caused by revolts.
CPR of Ponte Galeria, Rome
There are now about 98 men and 33 women in the concentration camp. Last week 7 women were released.
On 16th March a Tunisian woman drank some bleach and was taken to hospital.
On 18th March the prisoners in the female unit staged a protest. Last week at least 5 more men were locked up in the lager, and there are rumours that a prisoner who tested positive to coronavirus is in isolation.
CPR of Gradisca d’Isonzo
On 22nd March some prisoners started a hunger strike, which over the following days involved all the 45 prisoners in the CPR and is still going on.
As stated by the No CPR assembly of Friuli Venezia Giulia:
“The prisoners reaffirm that they are neither criminals nor animals, that they were taken to CPRs because of problems with documents that they can’t sort out while they are imprisoned. They declare that the CPR is even worse than a prison and that they will all fall ill if the virus gets in. They fear that, in the case of falling ill, no one will help them and they will be left to die there. Moreover the prisoners also stopped eating, fearing that the food is contaminated because both the guards and the workers who deliver the food under the bars of the cages go in and out of the centre and could be carriers of the virus.
The prisoners know that some CPRs have been shut down elsewhere and are demanding that they also be released to be able to return to their homes.”
The fact that it is necessary to empty every places of detention is clear to all and the imprisoned people are struggling courageously in the prisons and expulsion centres to obtain the only certitude for their safety: freedom.
In some CPRs the impossibility to communicate with outside is worsened by the seizing of cell phones, for this we are launching an appeal to anyone who is in contact with the prisoners (relatives, loved ones, lawyers, etc.) to write to: email@example.com so as to spread information and updates, even anonymously, reporting the prisoners’ voices directly.
May this be the beginning of the end for those who created a world of violence, exploitation and exclusion.
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