Milan, 24 September, 2008.
How much longer are we going to keep ignoring the persecution of the Roma people in Italy? How much longer will we use “caution” when talking and writing about the cases of arson, fires lit by racists with the intention of killing “gypsies”, or fires caused by dangerous and unsuitable heating and lighting? How much longer are we going to avoid counting the Roma children who die every year of cold, hunger and infection in the camps and micro-settlements?
How much longer are we going to persist in believing that the women, the sick and weak “would have died anyway” and finally admit that they were killed by an Italy rife with racial hatred? How much longer will antiracists speak out so cautiously? How much longer will they allow themselves to be intimidated by the arrogance of those in power? How much longer, in deference of the authorities, will we allow the last hands held out to us for a few coins to remain empty, after choosing the path of intolerance (or “zero tolerance”, which is the same thing), and after abandoning the path of solidarity and charity? How much longer will we be afraid of calling the oppression of the Roman people the new Holocaust?
Last night in Milan, in the ex Falck steelworks of Sesto San Giovanni (Milan) Ciprian, a young Roma boy of 13 was burnt alive. He lived with his family in conditions of intolerable marginalization and poverty. His family were unable to return to Romania, where they own nothing, and were therefore prisoners of marginalization in Sesto San Giovanni. A candle fell on the makeshift bed where the boy slept and he perished in the flames. The Roma families in Sesto San Giovanni have no electricity, therefore no safe heating and lighting. They make do the best they can to avoid freezing to death. They are offered no assistance at all, just repression from the police. The firemen, who arrived at the scene after midnight, found the boy’s charred body. How much longer will we carry on considering these bodies “accidents” and not victims? How much longer will we deceive ourselves we are innocent? Roberto Malini
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