The bodies of Cristina, 12, and Viola, 11, were left on the sand after they drowned in rough seas as holidaymakers carry on sunbathing nearby. It was the week%u2019s most shocking picture: gipsy girls dead on a beach ignored by sunbathers%u2026 Now there is more chilling evidence of how Italy%u2019s brutal crackdown on the Roma has sick echoes of the country%u2019s fascist past.Thousands of migrants, many of them Roma gipsies from the old communist bloc and racially troubled Balkans, have poured into the country since the dismantling of border controls across a greatly expanded European Union in 2004.
Italy%u2019s plan to fingerprint Roma children is being challenged by human rights organisations.
Italian MPs are coming under pressure from international agencies to refuse to confirm the state of emergency being used by the Berlusconi Government to bring in the fingerprinting. Amnesty International believes that the measures break at least two articles of the European Convention of Human Rights %u2014 the right to a private life and the right to non-discrimination.
But a case at the European Court of Human Rights would take years to reach a conclusion and the only immediate way of stopping the fingerprinting campaign would be to persuade Italian MPs to reject the Government%u2019s security package when it is debated in parliament this month.
The most outspoken pressure has come from the Council of Europe, the rights body set up after the Second World War, which runs the human rights court in Strasbourg. Thomas Hammerberg, its commissioner for human rights, visited a Roma camp in Rome last month and said that the authorities were using the same methods as Mussolini in the 1930s. %u201CThese are methods which recall measures adopted in the past and which led to the repression of Roma people,%u201D he said. %u201CThe problem of Roma is widespread in Europe: housing, health, education, employment, political representation . . . But for a long time in Italy the Roma have been a symbol of something that is unwanted.%u201D
Prime Minister Berlusconi:
We the Undersigned decry in the strongest possible terms Italy's descent from the vanguard of civilized nations for two thousand years down the dark path, that they chose for such a short time of fascism, racism and ethnic hatred, that resulted in the humilation and defeat of the Italian nation. Surely the lessons of this path have not been so soon forgotten by the Italian people?
The appalling and unjustified human rights abuses, state sponsored violence and apartheid against the Roma (gypsy) people must cease immediately. Every major human rights organization such as Amnesty International and such bodies as the Council of Europe have decried this horrifying return to the practices that served Italy so awfully before.
We demand that the Italian government and people rescind the laws, practices and abuse that are being perpetrated against the Roma under the most thinly disguised veils of law and order. We demand that the same practices, the whipping up of ill informed hysterical public opinion to foster violence and hatred against the Roma to distract from Italy's more pressing societal woes; the targeting of the Roma as the cause of Italy's many social problems; the vilifying of the Roma as the only and most serious cause of crime as pathetic attempt to foster the kind of nationalism that Italy has eschewed since her ignoble ruin in World War 2, immediately cease and that the Italian government and people not only restore the Rome's civil and human rights but apologize for this appalling return to the same practices that with Italy's full complicity led to the Holocaust.
Until the Italian government and people return to their senses, we must regretfully institute a full boycott of Italy, all her products, commerce and services. Italy has instituted the ugliest kind of apartheid against the Roma and much like the apartheid in South Africa we must shun Italy as she has chosen to place herself outside the boundaries of civilized nations. We pledge to boycott all products and services that are made or originated in Italy, to refrain from travel to, within and from Italy and to hold ourselves apart from the practitioners of ethnic hatred and apartheid.
We can only hope that the great nation of Italy views the blood on its hands from the Holocaust and its fascist horrors of World War 2 in the deepest repugnance and will soon awaken from the nightmare they are perpetrating against the Roma lest they also fail to recall the ignoble end it last lead them to.
Italy remember your past and think of your future. Until then we must turn our face away from you and all your commerce.
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