What follows is a statement that has been read out in the so-called Brennero trial. In 2016 there were clashes between activists and cops on the Italian side of the Brennero border against the closure of the border, by Austria, to prevent refugees from entering the country.
Originally published by Round Robin. Translated by Enough 14. Image above: Brennero border riots on May 7, 2016.
Statement at the court of Bolzano
Every day the border system crushes thousands of people. What happens between Syria and Turkey, between Turkey and Greece, in the Aegean archipelago, on the border between Bosnia and Croatia, in the prison camps in Libya, in the Mediterranean, confirms that the walls and hunting the poor are the face of present times. While goods travel freely from one side of the planet to the other, people are ruthlessly divided between those who can cross the borders and those who cannot: between those in hiding and those saved, in the words of Primo Levi. First, an economic order – devastating in its logic of war and with increasing plundering of resources, ecosystems and food self-sufficiency – sets the conditions under which millions of women and men are forced to leave the countries where they were born and raised; then a gigantic apparatus of barbed wire, electronic surveillance and concentration camps drives this “rejected humanity” into a horrifying obstacle course; those who survive selection must then be so exhausted and afraid to accept any living and working conditions in the countries where they end up. And it is precisely for this reason, in conclusion, that institutional and social racism can be named as a scapegoat for those who are guilty.
When, at the end of 2015, the Austrian state declared its intention to erect an anti-immigration barrier at the Brennero border, the complaints of the Italian institutions concerned only and exclusively the negative effects that this wall would have on the transit of goods. As a symbol of a past that will not pass, the press conference on the barrier project was held directly by the Austrian police and the whole thing was presented as a purely “technical solution” for border control. The expression itself – “technical solution” – brought our blood to a boil.
While the ballet of mutual declarations was being performed between the Austrian and Italian governments, police checks of ÖBB trains were already taking place on Italian territory, and the “technical solution” was being moved further south. For months people with a non-white face could not even board these trains, neither in Bolzano nor in Verona. The border system, on the other hand, is a mobile device that is connected on the one hand to police raids and administrative prisons. (And it should well reflect the fact that the same “technical solution” was adopted months ago to control and reject Covid-19 positives among the drivers and passengers on their way to Austria: this time we were the potentially “infected”).
For all these reasons, someone has blocked trains of the ÖBB several times; therefore, in the months before the demonstration of May 7, 2016, many people insisted on the concept “if people don’t pass, goods won’t pass either”; therefore, speeches about how to manage this horror called “technical solution” fail.
What the prime ministers presented as a kind of draft, distorted by some “bosses” and executed by many “sociables”, was simply the feeling that we had to react to this injustice. The “honest citizens” who today do not want to distinguish between what is legal and what is right – that is, they fall asleep in that obedience of which they warned against the words of Hannah Arendt (“No one has the right to obey”) which the institutions brought to this court with great hypocrisy – remember very well those who turned a blind eye when Jews were deported and partisans were shot in this country.
Let us now come to the benefits of the trial. The crime of “devastation and plunder”-as such and even more so as interpreted by the prosecutors-is derived directly from the 1930 fascist penal code. It had already been published in 1859 with Article 157 of the Criminal Code of the Kingdom of Sardinia and in 1889 with Article 252 of the Zanardelli Law book. In these cases, not only was reference made explicitly to the civil war and massacre, but the sentences ranged from 3 to 15 years. With the fascist code, however, the little thing called civil war disappears, while the basic sentence provided for in article 419 starts at 8 years imprisonment. Then the “democracy born from resistance ” came, one will say. Indeed. The article is still article 419, and the penalties provided for are the same. Now that legal absurdity is achieved in this way, so that in comparison with the accusation of participation in an “armed insurrection against state authorities” one risks much less, the crime defined in Article 419 has long remained a so-called dormant crime. One of the few cases in which it was applied from 1945 to the end of the 1990s were the uprisings that broke out in 1948 after the attack on Togliatti  , in which partisans took to the streets with machine guns in a few cities… Today the threshold of accepted rejection is so low that attempts are being made – and in some cases have even succeeded – to apply the crime of “devastation and plunder” to demonstrations for which it is even grotesque to speak of “widespread destruction”. And so we come to the request of 338 years in prison, formulated a few months ago in this courtroom like on a normal shopping list. All this against a compensation of 8.000 Euro demanded by the Ministry of the Interior… We then hand over to the lawyers the – in reality much more political than “technical” – question of the very nonchalant way in which the crime of material and moral complicity with the resistance and injury to dozens of people is called into question by the simple presence at this parade.
As can be seen from the leaflets and other materials quoted and even from the films shown obsessively in the recent hearings, the intention of this demonstration was to block the lines of communication – in fact, the demonstration was overloaded by the police and the Carabinieri just as it diverted onto the train tracks. “If some people cannot cross the border, nothing and no one passes”: Certain ethical concepts sometimes require a large-scale practical demonstration.
Borders kill. By drowning, freezing, by accidents on mountain trails or along railroad lines. Or directly, under the command of the police, as happened in Greece thanks to the de facto legitimacy of the European Union. We do not want to be a complicit in all this.
To each his own. As for us, we claim the meaning and spirit of this May 7th with our heads up. As a sign of anger against the thousand forms of state racism. As an expression of solidarity with a hunted humanity. And as a gesture of support. Towards the workers who fight in the South of Italy, towards the migrants who rebel against human trafficking, towards the detainees who revolt in the concentration camps of democracy. Towards those who, everywhere in the world, do not evade or compromise because they love the freedom of all and everyone, up to and including gambling.
We do not pretend to be victims of repression. We are aware of what our position means on the side of the damned of this earth and against the plans of power.
Let us put an end to the times of subjugation.
Bolzano, September 11, 2020
Agnese Trentin, Roberto Bottamedi, Massimo Passamani, Luca Dolce, Giulio Berdusco, Carlo Casucci, Giulia Perlotto, Christos Tasioulas, Francesco Cianci, Andrea Parolari, Mattia Magagna, Sirio Manfrini, Luca Rassu, Roberto Bonadeo, Marco Desogus, Gianluca Franceschetto, Gregoire Paupin, Claudio Risitano, Guido Paoletti, Daniele Quaranta.
 Togliatti was the General Secretary of the Italian Communist Party and on July 14, 1948, he was shot 3 times by a fascist. Togliatti’s life was on the line and during this day there were several uprisings and general strikes all over Italy.
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