School children and climate activists stage civil disobedience protests
School children protest over school closures
Twelve-year-old Anita Iacovelli from the Northern Italian city of Turin began staging solo protests against the closure of schools. Since 6th November 2020, the teenager has sat outside her school doing her work on a tablet computer, with a handwritten poster that reads “Learning at school is our right”. What started off as a lone protest has gained traction across Italy. Iacovelli says that distance learning has been challenging for students. Her cause has been taken up by Priorità alla Scuola (Priority to School), made up of teachers and parents that fights for a better education system. Protests have now become known as ‘Schools for Future’, inspired by the ‘Fridays for Future’ movement.
VIDEO: Anita Iacovelli and her friend Lisa Rogliatti, both 12 years old, sit in front of the Italo Calvino school in Turin as they protest against no school for pupils in the seventh grade up because of government restrictions over the Covid-19 pandemic pic.twitter.com/EJ2KAEFBVE— AFP News Agency (@AFP) November 18, 2020
Restaurants show “civil disobedience”
On 15th January 2020 Around 50,000 restaurants in Italy defied the government’s COVID-19 measures, with many staying open and serving customers, despite restrictions. Restaurant owners say they are struggling to make ends meet and question why other sectors have been allowed to operate while they are only allowed to open for take aways. The campaign was shared on social media under the hashtag #IoApro (I open).
Un toast à la santé de la constitution italienne .. ce soir dans un restaurant à Pérouse des citoyens italiens qui scandent "Liberté Liberté" en présence des policiers #IoApro à la votre 👏 pic.twitter.com/ECewYDJPaN— Le Général💎 (@LE_GENERAL_FR) January 16, 2021
Attempts to repress climate protesters
Climate action group Extinction Rebellion (XR) Italia launched a crowdfunding campaign in November 2020 to fund the massive fines issued by police and legal procedures to combat these, amounting to approximately 20,000 Euros, in response to protests staged months earlier.
40 sanzioni amministrative per "svenare" il #dissenso durante la #Ribellione2020. 8 denunce per "Accensioni ed esplosioni pericolose" per aver acceso per 40 secondi 8 fumogeni colorato, a larga distanza da chiunque.https://t.co/w8LKcHiPaV— Extinction Rebellion Italia (@XrItaly) December 2, 2020
On 18th September 2020, eight activists in an act of civil disobedience climbed the columns of the gate in Piazza Castello and chained themselves to the gate in an attempt to get government officials to come and address them. They also lit eight small coloured smoke bombs. Weeks later the activists received complaints filed by police for “Dangerous ignitions and explosions" and for Non-compliance with the Authority's provisions” as they failed to retreat from the gate when asked to do so.
From 8th to 10th October 2020, in another form of protest, activists guarded one of the entrance gates of the Eni building in Rome for over 50 hours. More than a hundred people slept outdoors for two nights, some of them chained, which limited their movements. Weeks later activists received fines of between 280 and 400 Euros for “failure to respect social distancing". However, XR maintains that they had always ensured social distancing since the beginning of the pandemic. In a statement the group said:
“Extinction Rebellion considers that in both cases the intention was to use spurious crimes and social distancing as an excuse to repress a young, rebellious movement that emphasises the real crisis present at this moment: the climate and ecological one.”
Dopo oltre 50 ore di presidio davanti alla sede dell'#Eni, sciogliamo le catene.— Extinction Rebellion Italia (@XrItaly) October 10, 2020
Non è un intervento del #governo a scioglierle ma la gioia di aver compiuto un gesto forte e radicale.
Siamo la vita che si ribella per la vita. ✊🌏🌱#ClimateAction #ActNow #Greenwashing pic.twitter.com/Nvtp7IGoxH
Calls to bring back Patrick George Zaki
On 5th January 2021 Amnesty International together with the municipalities of Novara and Bologna organised a sit-in to bring attention to the case of Patrick George Zaki, a student and human rights activist who has been detained in Egypt since February 2020 (see previous monitor updates). The participants in the demonstration called upon the minister of foreign affairs to fulfil his promise to bring Zaki back to Italy. Amnesty Italy states that “Patrick George Zaki is a prisoner of conscience held solely for his human rights work and political views expressed on social media.”
Civic Space Developments