Far Right Groups Target Roma with Violent Protests in Italy

19 April 2013

Budapest, Milan, 19 April 2013: In Italy, Romani communities were faced with another eviction today. The eviction came after a week of protests targeting an informal Romani settlement in Milan which is home to about 350 Roma, mostly from Romania. The protests, led by far right groups and accompanied by racist slogans, turned violent when the protestors threw stones into the settlement.
On 12 April 2013, the far right organisations, Gioventù della Fiamma and Circolo Domenico Leccisi e Gioventù di Ferro held an authorised demonstration in front of the camp.“Roma, go away from the neighborhood” was their call during the demonstration, which approximately 80 people attended. Two more unauthorised demonstrations of a similar nature took place on 15 and 16 April 2013, during which stones were thrown into the camp and fascist slogans and fascist salutes were made.
Following these protests, which called for the urgent eviction of the informal Romani settlement, the Milanese municipal authorities went to the camp yesterday and informed the residents that the camp would be closed. Some Romani residents left the camp after this warning. The authorities began evicting the remaining Roma today early in the morning.
According to municipal authorities, the plan to evict the Roma from the camp had been developed and announced previously. However, they accelerated the process due to security concerns and their inability to protect the Roma settlement from increasing hostility in the area.
The municipality initially announced that they would provide accommodation at a shelter for about 150 people, prioritising women, families with children and persons with disabilities. It is not known how many Romani individuals have been left homeless. The municipality plans to open a new shelter to accommodate them, expected to be opened by the end of April.
The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and Gruppo di Sostegno Forlanini (GSF) are concerned about the safety and security of all Romani individuals who left the camp. Milanese authorities cite security concerns as the major reason to have closed down the camp; however the question remains as to how they will ensure the safety of Roma who are now homeless, and thus yet more vulnerable.
The ERRC and GSF are particularly concerned that this racially-fuelled mob violence is reminiscent of the 2008 pogrom in Ponticelli, Naples and the more recent razing of a Romani settlement in La Continassa, Turin in late 2011. The ERRC and GSF believe that the authorities of Milan are making some headway in the integration of Roma after many years of negative and emergency-based approaches. The NGOs hope that the authorities will in future do all that they can not to surrender to the demands of aggressive right wing groups, and will protect the fundamental rights of all Roma including their right to life, right to housing and right to privacy.
The ERRC and GSF call upon the municipal authorities to provide adequate alternative accommodation to those in emergency shelter following the eviction and to those now on the street, and request that they take all necessary measures to prevent the reoccurrence of such aggression.
For more information, contact:
Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre


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