EMILIO IN PRISON. APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY
On Friday 3 December 2020, one of our comrades, Emilio Scalzo, was extradited from Italy to France and imprisoned in Aix-Luynes prison. Emilio, a 67-year-old former fishmonger, a long-standing NoTav activist and since the beginning engaged in bringing solidarity to migrants passing through Valsusa and Brianconnese, is accused of violence against a public official following the demonstration on 15 May 2020 between Claviere and Monginevro, a public day organised in response to the eviction of the Casa Cantoniera, the self-managed Refuge for migrants in Oulx. That demonstration, part of a three-day camping trip against the borders, was almost immediately “blocked” by dozens of CRS who had blocked the road and chased the procession along the paths to prevent it from passing, firing tear gas, “grenades” (a type of weapon used by the French police) and distributing truncheons. Emilio had been left a little behind because of his prosthetic knee and his second knee awaiting an operation. While sitting down, he was attacked by a gendarme who first threw a grenade at him and then tried to hit him with a baton. Emilio defended himself. The policeman, forty-five years younger, left with a sore arm. Truncheon against a piece of wood found on the ground.
On 15 September, Emilio was arrested; plainclothes Italian police officers literally kidnapped him in the street, and for many hours no one heard from him. The perpetrators knew how much Emilio is loved in the valley where he lives, so they kidnapped him in the shadows. On 23 September, he was placed under house arrest, until on 1 October, judges at the Turin Court of Appeal granted the extradition requested by the French state. On 1 December, after two and a half months of house arrest, Emilio was arrested again by the Digos of Turin (political police), who used a huge amount of cops to block the streets around his house, climbing over and forcing the gate and making the arrest. He was taken to the Vallette prison in Turin, although he had already been under house arrest for two months. Why? Because of the “too much solidarity” of the movement, in permanent garrison in front of Emilio’s house to stay close to him until the arrest and not leave him alone. In practice, they were afraid they might not be able to hand him over in time and make a bad impression on the French gendarmes.
On 3 December, he was extradited to France and, after a mock hearing/interrogation – in which they had already decided not to grant him any alternative measures – he was locked up in Aix-Luynes prison, near Marseille.
The gendarmes and the Paf (border police) control this border, bringing with them a trail of death and violence. Already five bodies have been found on these mountains, all of them having fled or been pushed back by the French border police. Many have been injured, missing for days, and countless have been rejected, mistreated and threatened. Dozens of people without good papers try to cross this border every day, fleeing war, poverty, discrimination, in search of a better life. Emilio has always been there for them.
Who is the violent one? The one who hunts migrants day and night, turning away dozens of people a day, or the one who has always fought to help those passing through not to die on these mountains? Who is the violent one, who beats on command, who throws tear gas and stun grenades, who truncheons or who, simply, has tried to defend himself from this violence?
We stand with Emilio. We are all familiar with French police violence; we all remember the wounded among the Yellow Gilets, the lost eyes and limbs and the beaten to a pulp. The deads in the banlieu and in the demonstrations. The riot police firing tear gas and granade at eye level.
The Gap public prosecutor’s office is trying to make Emilio pay for everything that was the fight at the border, using the rhetoric of the ‘violent’ to isolate and drive away solidarity. This time they are not accusing him of aiding and abetting illegal immigration, even though Emilio is also on trial in Italy for the occupations of the two self-managed shelters. For alleged ‘violence’, it is easier to accuse, and condemn. Especially if anyone’s word against the testimony of a gendarme is worth nothing.
They want to pass him off as one of the leaders of the “No Border movement”, just because in some pictures he was holding a banner and he is one of the oldest in the procession. They are passing him off as a terrorist. When they extradited him they put a hood over his head, and the armoured car was escorted by a helicopter. He has been in French prisons for more than a month, and only today did they allow his wife the visits she had long requested. Until today they have not even given him back his glasses, without which he cannot even read.
The choice of prison is also indicative: Aix-Luynes is far away, near Marseilles. So they decided to take him away from the Valsusa, from the border, to take him away from his loved ones and from the strong solidarity present in this territory. As they did at the time with Eleonora, Théo and Bastien, arrested for aiding and abetting illegal immigration on the day of 22 April 2018 and transferred from Gap to Marseille for “security reasons” after the call for a garrison under the prison.
Let’s not leave Emilio alone.
Let’s write to him, let’s make ourselves heard, let’s get active on the
different territories to bring solidarity. Everyone in their own way,
all ways are welcome.
Solidarity does not stop!
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