Thursday, 6 May 2010

Statement to the court, Lecce 2007, Cristian Paladini

There are two fundamental reasons for which I am sitting in this court as a defendant, the only role that, in spite of my will, I can play in a court room.
First of all I am a revolutionary and an anarchist; and if you consider how many comrades are still being held in Italian jails, that in itself seems to be reason enough. After all, what can those who want to break this damned murderous social organization based on misery and exploitation, expect from the ruling class, which does not intend to renounce its power, and the interests of which this court is bound to defend?
The second reason is closely linked to the first, or rather it is its direct and logical consequence: the struggle that, as an anarchist and revolutionary in this society, I have been carrying over the past few years.
So, after the ground had been prepared with a long period of preventive criminalization thanks to the usual journalists of the press and TV, imprisonment was not surprising. First imprisonment in a proper cell of 8 square metres, that three people shared twenty hours a day, then house arrest where the b,ars on the doors and windows cannot be seen, yet are there. House arrest, which is certainly less hard in certain respects, serves the project of total isolation carried out by the State even better: you do not have any contact with other prisoners and your only way of communicating is by mail, which, as this prosecutor well knows, is not at all reliable.
One year and ten months have passed since May 10 2005, during which my comrades and I have endured isolation, transfers, continuous intimidation and abuse of all kinds, but always cheered by practical solidarity by many other exploited like ourselves. Certainly it was not easy, as it never has been for all the men and women who have locked up throughout time all over the world, but I do not intend to complain or to present myself as a simple dissident who, by a judicial mistake or for whatever other reason, finds himself involved in a sensational judicial frame-up and is now waiting for justice.
Nothing is more extraneous to my way of thinking and living. Condemnation or absolution, justice – real justice – cannot be found in a courtroom.
It is true that this is a frame-up, quite a clumsy one, and in some aspects even a ridiculous one. The prosecutor, in fact, not having any evidence in his hands, relied on the old and always useful habit of inventing it by deforming reality, transforming conversations that he infamously listened to and omitting the context in which they occurred, so that he could make us members of a subversive association punishable by article 270bis. When you are a liar by profession, as time goes by you probably end up losing track. I think that it is how this prosecutor, trying to conciliate what cannot be conciliated, went quite further and established that anarchists, who refuse all authority, were part of a hierarchical structure composed of leaders and followers.
Apart from these dirty tricks, power was right as regards me: it has singled out an individual who refuses the State, does not care about its laws and strongly desires the subversion of this system, the destruction of all authority and the creation of a free life for everybody. This is the dangerous idea that power cannot tolerate, in spite of what they declare, and which is well beyond the worn-out old chatter about liberty and rights upon which the ideology of the regime is based.
Actually there is no freedom in rights. The latter are a concession given to vassals and as such they can be suspended or suppressed, and they strengthen the power of those who concede them. In other words, the State concedes and removes rights according to its needs. This said, it is not surprising that article 270bis, which we are accused of, comes from old article 270, which was first produced by the fascist dictatorship (Rocco code) in order to repress rebels, and eventually passed from the fascist regime to the Republic that boasts it was born from the Resistance. In other words, the most efficient legal weapon against dissent during the time of dictatorship is being used today; moreover it has been refined and adapted to the different social conditions, going through decades and governments of all colours, as a sign of continuity between two powers that, basically, are not so different from each other. This article, which establishes a six-month imprisonment that can be reconfirmed every six months up to two years, cost us to be locked up for quite a long time before any jury decides our sentence. In this way the principle of ‘presumed innocence’, which any good democratic subject feels he is protected by, has been clamorously denied.
Many of the specific charges against us concern the struggle for the closure of all detention centres for immigrants and in particular the infamous Regina Pacis in San Foca, which was run profitably by the homonymous Foundation Regina Pacis [a foundation of the Lecce clergy] up until March two years ago. CPTs and deportations are another thread that links past and present: fascist and nazi concentration camps, before becoming centres of systematic massacre, were places where people were locked up without having committed any crime. It is exactly what happens in all CPTs. That is why I have always called them concentration camps. In these places immigrants who managed to reach Italy but do not have the right documents to stay in the country are locked up, after enduring terrible journeys during which they risked their life: The Mediterranean sea bed is now a cemetery without crosses or names. For them, guilty of being poor and foreigners on the run desperately searching for a better life, State racism has established that they be imprisoned, following what is a mere administrative question for an Italian. They are kept there until they are identified – officially 60 days – and, with the collaboration of companies such as Alitalia and Trenitalia they are eventually deported to their country of origin or, and this is what counts, somewhere else outside fortress Europe. Otherwise they are handed a deportation order compelling them to leave the country within a few days. Those who do not obey are put in prison. As they do not have any other choice in the face of misery, hunger, and war that they have escaped from, they are forced to live in hiding, constantly chased by the police, escaping raids and facing prejudice and hostility stirred up by the media propaganda that depicts illegal immigrants as criminals and possible ‘terrorists’. In order to survive they have to accept even more hideous working conditions because they can be easily blackmailed under the threat of deportation. They live constantly with the terror of being captured, thrown in CPTs and then sent back from what was their journey of hope. The condition of ‘clandestine’ hanging over immigrants, therefore, serves a precise project of exploitation: on the one hand the bosses ask the State for legal labourers, according to the established quota; on the other the latter have at their disposal a considerable number of undesirables without any rights that they can exploit to death. These 'undesirables' are used to threaten the legal immigrants so that the latter do not stand up for better working conditions (without a work contract immigrants cannot stay in the country).
Everything in this world is submitted to the rules of economy. It is such an obvious truth that power does not even try to conceal it; on the contrary it tries to make us think that it is an inevitable reality from which everybody will gain something.
When they do have to conceal reality, on the contrary, their most effective trick is to call things with names that do not match their meaning. It this way the expression ‘humanitarian war’ was introduced, concentration camps for immigrants are called ‘welcome centres’ and the prisoners inside these structures are called ‘guests’, as Cesare Lodeserto, a ‘benefactor-jailer’ ex-director of Regina Pacis did in this court. According to the stories of many prisoners, the detention centre of San Foca was a theatre of violence, beatings and abuse of all kinds, especially after revolts had broken out. But even if such atrocities had never occurred, my struggle for the closure of Regina Pacis would have been the same because the real problem is not the way a CPT is managed but its mere existence as a place where people are locked up. For a long while now these places have been called concentration camps even by the left that contributed to creating them and by a large part of civil society, without any practical consequences. The new governors, who out of pure political calculation had expressed their intention to vaguely ‘go beyond’ the CPTs, have now changed their cards: this ‘going beyond’ is nothing else but a different setting. The CPTs would be reduced in number, become more secure and serve as prisons ‘only’ for the ‘irreducible’, that is to say those who do not collaborate with the police to be identified and voluntarily deported. A real disappointment for the people who voted the new governors. The truth is, as the political class admit, that the CPTs are necessary to the current politics of immigration. The State cannot do without them, even if they represent the total demystification of the democratic lie and show how exclusion is at the base of democracy. As far as I am concerned, this does not make any difference, as I have always known that Cpts will disappear only if and when we have the social strength to impose it. This is the reason why, today like yesterday, I am continuing my struggle against detention camps and deportation, focusing my attention on the responsibility of those (managers and collaborators) who allow their existence and activity. Furthermore, I always bear well in mind that there exists a strong link between CPT, permanent war and the militarization of society.
The regime’s incessant propaganda has always used fear as a means to produce consensus. The continuous creation of a threat, highlighted according to the circumstances, justifies a more and more suffocating control over all aspects of life and allows power to introduce more and more liberticidal laws. The enemy is everywhere, it is called ‘terrorist’ and can be an immigrant or a revolutionary. Reality is turned upside down: those who massacre entire populations in order to control resources accuse those who struggle for freedom of terrorism. But if terrorism is, according to its historical definition, the indiscriminate use of violence aimed at conquering and consolidating power, then it is well clear that THE STATE IS THE TERRORIST!

LECCE, June 28 2007

Cristian Paladini

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