Seven migrants escape from the detention centre in Bologna
01 August 2004
On the night of 7 April 2004, seven of the more than 20 migrants who attempted to escape from the Centro di permanenza temporanea (CPT, detention centre for migrants awaiting expulsion) in via Mattei in Bologna managed to get away from the carabinieri (officers from Italy's paramilitary police force) who sought to capture them after a revolt and the mass escape attempt. The men who escaped included three Albanians, two Moroccans and two Tunisians. A Tunisian who fell and banged his head as he fell off the CPT fence as he tried to climb it, was taken to hospital in conditions described as "critical". In the aftermath of the escape attempt, several detainees were beaten with truncheons by the centre's security personnel. An internee claimed that "conditions in the CPT are worse than prison. Men are beaten up by 20-year-old kids who feel strong because they have truncheons. But we haven't done anything. We are only in here because we're illegal". The activist Ya Basta association called for "the immediate closure of all the CPTs and of all the identification centres for asylum seekers", supporting the migrants' "right to escape" as a "legitimate [form of] rebellion", and announcing further acts of "disobedience and sabotage" towards these establishments.
On the night of 12 June 2004, there was a revolt in the Sant'Anna CPT on Isola Capo Rizzuto in the province of Crotone (Calabria), where around 100 migrants awaiting their expulsion are detained. When a detainee escaped after managing to take the keys to the gate of the centre away from medical volunteers who had entered to cure his apparent illness, and subsequently threw the keys to other detainees, a revolt began. When carabinieri (members of Italy's paramilitary police force) intervened and captured the group who had escaped, around half of the detainees in the centre became involved in disturbances that lasted several hours, including the burning of mattresses and clashes resulting in 17 people getting injured (seven carabinieri, two police officers and eight migrants) and three migrants, who claim they are Palestinian, were arrested for being suspected of being the instigators of the revolt.
On 11 July 2004, a demonstration against detention centres outside the CPT in San Foca (Lecce) resulted in police and carabinieri officers charging demonstrators (one officer and fifteen demonstrators were reportedly injured), and in the arrest of an anarchist who struck an officer with a loudspeaker in attempt to help a Maghreb country national who was trying to escape over the CPT fence. The demonstrators threw stones and objects into the CPT, and unrest inside the centre resulted in damage to infrastructure in the centre, including videocameras.
The Democratici di Sinistra (DS, left democratic party) MP Antonio Rotundo complained about the lack of information surfacing about events within the centre, stressing that there was evidence that clashes had taken place and that "the atmosphere that people breathe in is violent" in the Lecce CPT, in a possible reference to the ongoing judicial proceedings against the manager of the centre and seven members of the centre's staff for the ill-treatment of detainees in November 2002 (see Statewatch vol. 14 no. 1).
Il manifesto, 17.6, 12.7.2004; Repubblica, 8.4.2004; Press statement by Ya Basta Bologna, 8.4.2004; Osservatorio Permanente Italia/Albania di Brindisi, 12.7.2004; Il Resto del Carlino, 19.4.2004; La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, 12.7.2004.