Everything began in defence of the earth, in defence of a centuries-old campaign, in defence of the memories which that land aroused in the hearts of many inhabitants of the area. A struggle against TAP, SNAM, against the companies which through their great works have become owners of land, legalized usurpers.
Everything that has remained of a struggle that didn’t stop for almost two years, where day after day, night after night, we gave our all to prevent or slow down a devastation announced by the coming of TAP, are 77 years of sentences handed out at the end of a trial farce, where it seems that two years of struggle against TAP have transformed themselves into a struggle against the Lecce police, against the digos.
It is clear that the general trend of Italian justice is to increasingly criminalize any simple act of protest, taking sentences to historical heights for anyone who is still self-determined in the struggle against any injustice.
The structure of the trial against NO TAP had been decided by the court and the police in advance even before this fast-trial began, which only took 6 months to reach the first grade sentence.
Right from the first hearing the impression of those on trial was that it was a farce.
We found ourselves facing endless false witness accounts, when not contradicting the same evidence presented by the Digos, facing a judge who decided what to say when he perceived errors into which the accusation was falling. During the trial TAP was mentioned very few times, only for the requested compensations.
The farce was clear right from the first hearing when defence lawyers pointed out to the judge that a witness, one of the many digos officers, was making various accusations without any evidence but only his personal recounting of the facts. The judge’s response was premonitory of what the sentences would be: “The words of the witness are worth more than proof…”. This said, the trial could have ended there as far as we are concerned, the choice of condemning us as bothersome demonstrators had already been written.
Of course we don’t believe in justice or its twisted and classist mechanisms; the sentences are clearly disproportionate to the facts, they are revenge against those who opposed themselves, a warning to anyone who dare do so in the future. This is a political trial and our accusers dealt with it this way, and we should have done the same.
The fact of not having been able to keep the struggle and social tension against the umpteenth capitalist usurpation in the Salento territory at a constant level, even after the trial began, has given a free hand to the repression, a machine that functions as soon as those on the receiving end decide to put up with it rather than confront it. When they decide to put their head down for fear of the economic, legal and therefore prison consequences, while it is ever more evident how this world does not foresee any future for us, hence the need to fight it.
Meanwhile TAP continues its dominating propaganda, talking of ecology and “green”, about greater care of the land, a land devastated at their very hands, and it is from here that we must start again; the sentences cannot mark the end of a struggle. Once the pipeline is installed, all is not lost. TAP is always there, in the places where we used to look for it, day and night, a few years ago, and it is there thanks to those who allow it.
Italy – The trial against 90 NO TAP: updates and a comrade’s declaration
Posted on 2021/01/16 by Comunella Fastidiosa
Translated by act for freedom now!
In the bunker courtroom of the prison of Lecce in the morning of Friday, January 15, the prosecutor submitted requests for sentencing 90 No TAP accused, on trial for a number of episodes of struggle which took place between 2017 and 2018. The charges range from violence and resistance against public officials to breaching expulsion orders from Lecce and Melendugno, where the struggle against the gas multinational was most intense. In the first instance trial the sentences requested ranged from a minimum of 2 months to a maximum of 2 years and 3 months.
During the hearing a comrade made a declaration concerning the charges against her, here is the text:
In this trial I am accused of having repeatedly breached an order prohibiting me from being present in the territory of Lecce and Melendugno. Some policemen, in the role of witnesses, stated that I would have deliberately and in contempt of their job of observation, neglected to hide or change my appearance. The many photographs that portray me confirm this observation. In fact I always took part in the demonstrations and the various protests without caring about the prohibition and without concealing myself. And I often spoke out, as did many others, to repeat the reasons for those mobilizations, which have involved a great number of people over two years.
I hope the gentlemen of the police station won’t mind, but I’d say the reasons that led me to the prohibited areas, risking the charges made against me here, were quite other than contempt for the digos of Lecce. I won’t expose these reasons in all their length and breadth, also because I think that a courtroom is the least suitable place for such a purpose. Suffice it to say that it is not by chance that the reasons I am referring to are all in the missing link of the statements given by the police here in the role of witnesses, statements that sketch a rather simplified, flat, let’s say bi-dimensional scenario where the police are facing a group of rioters against a backdrop of yards, gates, country roads, olive orchards. Instead, my reasons are all in the third dimension, that of the background. These are places that have suffered the indelible scar of an aberrant operation, the TAP gas pipeline. An operation imposed from above and always rejected by the inhabitants because it upturns delicate ecosystems, puts human health at risk, upsets the local economy. Ultimately, that work represents the voracity of transnational capital to which local communities are being forced to succumb.
The impressive mobilization of men in uniform in defence of the TAP Consortium and against the opponents of the works showed everyone the State’s subjugation to those superior reasons. The militarization of a vast territory and the suspension of freedom of movement within it in contempt of the population, these yes, are only some of the reasons that convinced me to take part rather than desist, to go to the prohibited areas instead of complying with the prohibitions imposed on me. I thus decided to respond to my own personal ethical imperative, ignore the injunction of authority and be present in the prohibited places.
If anything, my only regret is effectively not having done enough.
Lecce, Italy – 11th June 2019: 47 denounced following episodes of struggle against the TAP gas pipeline
Translated by act for freedom now!
In recent days we got news of yet another ‘maxi-denunciation’ concerning the struggle against TAP. This time 47 people were charged with a string of accusations which typically strike self-determined demonstrations. A spectacular accusation, which relates to important days of struggle occurring between December 2017 and June 2018.
Pointless to dwell upon the specific crimes being attributed, as we said before they are typical of demonstrations.
Rather, it is important to highlight how dribbled-out repression – consisting of continuous denunciations, controls, prompt expulsion orders and media criminalization – goes well beyond the intention of stopping the opposition to a gas pipeline. TAP is a dirty business thanks to which the police are using repressive means in order to rage on the life of anyone who wants to express any form of dissent against authority’s abuse and injustice. Each small echo, each small step towards liberation is criminalized.
In this sense, the media uproar unleashed by petty local newspapers increased the criminalizing effect on those who struggle against the TAP, as names, surnames, addresses and ages of all 47 denounced were splashed all over their pages. We are mainly referring to the news agencies Quotidiano di Puglia, Corriere Salentino and LecceNews24, whose disgusting job we won’t forget: sentencing us to the stocks before the courts even began to operate.
So far TAP has only brought trouble, devastation and cops everywhere, we have said and demonstrated this on many occasions.
To the journalists engaged in preparing mega scoops with names and surnames, using police and magistrates’ archives, you are just disgusting people with no dignity.