Ireland Anti-Internment Campaign
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A picket outside the Italian Embassy in Dublin on Thursday (23rd) was part of a day of action across Europe in solidarity with an Anarchist prisoner on hunger strike since October in a struggle for more humane prison conditions.
The picket, organised at short notice, included Irish Republicans, Anarchists and revolutionary Socialists. Banners and placards indicated the presence of Saoradh, Irish Anarchist Network and Ireland Anti-Internment Campaign.
At one point five uniformed Gardaí stood near the Embassy’s gate while three plain-clothes Special Branch (i.e. political police) watched from a car across the road. The police numbers may have been due to a request from the Embassy in the midst of attacks on some Italian Embassies in Europe.
Despite the presence of Gardaí, Embassy staff appeared nervous, meeting one visitor at the gate to check her reason for attendance after speaking to her on her mobile phone, rather than first allowing her to enter the garden and approach the main entrance.
THE HARSHEST ITALIAN PRISON CONDITIONS
Alfredo Cospito is an Italian political prisoner kept under the harshest Italian prison conditions, “41-bis”, which include solitary confinement for most of the day, family visit once a month through glass, no reading matter sent from outside and no phone calls in either direction or lawyer privacy.
According to information on the Internet, these inhumane conditions were developed for Mafiosa leaders, in order to prevent them running their organisations from inside jail and also to pressure them into breaking ranks and informing on their colleagues.
Whatever we may say about that, what can be the intention of subjecting a political prisoner to those conditions, except to break him or to destabilise him mentally? EU recommended rules on prisoner management don’t recommend more than three weeks in solitary confinement.
Lawyers for political prisoner Nadia Lioce, who has been living under the 41-bis regime for two decades, have said due to limited hours permitted contact, she has effectively only interacted with people for a total of 15 hours in the space of a year.
Italian media reported Lioce’s lawyers as saying she is now so “psychologically isolated” that, when her mother and sister visit, she is unable to speak to them for more than a few minutes.
Amnesty International and the European Court of Human Rights have both criticised several aspects of the 41-bis, and in 2007 a US court refused to extradite a convicted Mafia drug trafficker on the grounds that the 41-bis regime he would face in Italy would have “constituted torture”.
The Anti-Imperialist Front gave a call for an international solidarity day of action which found an active response in many countries.
Alfredo Cospito’s case is up for review by the Italian prison system this month and pickets and other actions have been organised around Europe to exert pressure on the Italian penal authorities to release Cospito into house arrest in his sister’s home.
The picket displayed not only internationalist solidarity but exemplary broad unity of disparate political forces in solidarity with an Anarchist political prisoner. Hopefully this unity will continue to be built upon as time goes on, for the unfolding struggles of class and nation demand it.
Hopefully the international actions will cause the Italian authorities to relax the inhumane conditions of Alfredo Cospito’s incarceration but now Italian authorities are claiming that Cospito is somehow coordinating violent actions from within his extreme isolation.
A side trip into history
The Italian Embassy is in Northumberland Road, on the south side of the Grand Canal (near the Israeli and US Embassies).
As they were leaving, some of the picketers took time to look at a plaque and monument to the Mount Street Bridge Battle between Irish Volunteers and British soldiers in 1916. Four Volunteers were killed and between 26 and 30 Sherwood Foresters, with 134 more wounded.
A number of Volunteers were captured but a number got away also. Two of the buildings from which the Volunteers fought remain, bearing the marks of bullet strikes. The third, Clanwilliam House was set on fire by the British and was replaced by a 1960s-type office building later.
Alfredo Cospito: Hunger-striking Italian anarchist moved amid protests – BBC News