“A new example of the dramatic condition of the Italian media”

The international journalist union defines it as such after the neo-Fascist aggression at Verano Cemetery. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe says “Arrest them”.

The aggression on the 7th January 2019 in Rome, at the Verano cemetery (read here), resonated abroad, having an impact even stronger than in Italy, where there is still no clear appreciation of the gravity of the episode, of its general meaning, where the circle of solidarity does not go beyond political affiliations and the orientations of newspapers.

From Vienna, the Representative of the OSCE for Freedom of the Press, Harlem Desir, said he was shocked by the aggression of the neo-Fascists towards the journalist and the photographer from L’Espresso, during which the attackers “seized their cameras and erased the images before the police intervened “. In a Tweet (read here) he insisted that “The attackers must be quickly arrested and tried.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists have regarded the episode as one of maximum seriousness, describing it the most evident sign of the “dramatic” situation facing Italian journalism under an unopposed hail of assaults, threats, and vexatious judicial retaliation. In a statement they wrote (read here), “This is just a further example of the dramatic situation of media freedom in Italy. Data published on the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism show a serious deterioration in the working conditions of journalists in Italy. Italy is one of the countries with the highest number of cases published on the Platform during 2018. There are 13, the same number as Russia and almost as many as in the countries with the highest number of reports, Turkey and Ukraine (both with 14 reports). Italy is also the country whose situation has deteriorated more seriously last year: the number of violations of press freedom has more than tripled compared to 2017. No other European country has suffered such deterioration. Since July 2017, the Italian authorities have not responded to any of the cases published on the Platform “.

The Council of Europe is likely to ask the Italian government for explanations also for this recent episode, which represents a serious violation of the right of expression and information codified by Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The response or lack of response from the Italian authorities will be published.

As pointed out by the director of the L’Espresso, Marco Damilano, this aggression “takes us back to the years of urban terrorism”; to that sectarian and violent climate that we believed had been overcome forever. A climate that did not admit inquisitive eyes or nuances and pushed extremists to punish bloodily those who had different ideas. An attitude that, inter alia, resulted in 378 murders. In Italy the signs of a revival of intolerance with a Fascist stamp have been felt for some time but in recent years they have multiplied. The situation has changed and it would be myopic not to see it. Three years ago, Ossigeno’s partners active in Germany and in other countries in which the episodes of violence committed by extreme right-wing groups against journalists multiplied, asked if the same happened in Italy. The answer then was a clear ‘no’. Since then many things have happened. Most of all, the investigations of Paolo Berizzi and the threats he suffered for lifting the veil on what happens in the galaxy of the Italian extreme right have been a revelation. It seems that in the convolutions of the Italian political and economic crisis, in the loss of so many voters, some movements and groups of extreme right, both old and new, glimpse the possibility of new authoritarian adventures and are quite aware that to realize their dreams require reason to be dormant and the silencing of some newspapers.

ASP (wt)

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