Operation Scintilla: a two-year journey

via Roundrobin, Translated by act for freedom now!

We have decided to have a say ourselves regarding the declaration made during the appeal trial for operation Scintilla in February 2019. We are doing it now on the internet, over two years later, strong from a long, hard and enriching path. The choice of coming out now on the internet is for various reasons. Certainly it is motivated by a debate that has been going on for several months with comrades close to us on the need to widen the retelling of what happened to those who are locked up in Italian jails as well as those who live beyond national borders. Another reason comes from recently published texts which open a level of discussion that we don’t want to avoid, for the completeness of the narrative. We want to make it clear immediately that we didn’t consider the internet an adequate instrument to deal with what happened because of the narrowness of reasoning that this instrument necessarily imposes. In fact, we don’t see this space as adequate to an in-depth and sincere discussion. Therefore we want to point out the limits that this text inevitably carries with it, as it can’t reflect the complexity of the reasoning and ways we have elaborated since we started to face what we had done.

These lines, however, have two aims:

– to inform those who are not informed in spite of the efforts made so far, by reporting a brief chronology of what happened and adding the declaration at the end

– to give a few suggestions concerning the attempt we made to deal with our mistake
The facts are these:

On 7th February 2019, operation Scintilla started off alongside the eviction of Asilo occupato, an investigation aimed at striking the struggle that was being carried out at the time against migrants’ detention centres in Turin. Six comrades were sent to prison charged with subversive association, three of them with the additional charge of instigation to commit crimes and one of them also with the specific offence concerning a petrol can placed outside a post office. Besides the six arrests, a comrade was put under investigation on bail, whereas another, accused of both subversive association and the placing of a device outside a post office, began a long period on the run which lasted over a year and a half.

At the appeal trial for operation Scintilla, which took place on 26th February 2019, four individual declarations and a collective declaration were submitted. The collective declaration, by will of the signatories and comrades close to them, was soon subjected to severe criticism. In spite of the fact that in the face of the mistake we made nothing can sound like anything other than a justification, we are the first not to want to recognize it as such. First of all we recognize the problematic nature of the tone of the entire declaration and of some of its passages, but before that and more generally we recognize we got it wrong in choosing a court as a point of reference, without giving ourselves enough time to develop the words and concepts we wanted to express, as well as the aim we wanted to achieve. We also think an error of method was made in presenting a collective declaration without the necessary discussion either between those on trial, held in different prisons at the time, or with the comrades outside with whom we have struggled and, among other things, carried out the struggle against migrants’ detention centres under accusation in operation Scintilla. Moreover, not taking into account that a comrade was still on the run we forced her to face the consequences of our choice in relation to both the court proceedings and, still today when she is under house arrest, the solidarity which could be and can be developed around her situation.

How we chose to deal with it so far and the possibility of adding something

To choose a path to deal with what we had created was difficult, sometimes very slow and non-linear, especially as, if at first writing won over thought, later thought certainly slowed down and sometimes stopped the writing. Each step was the result of multiple discussions which we hoped would at least make the different signatories agree while they were being made. But in time we met with such divergences in the way of facing the problem that sometimes we took different directions.

The attempted method certainly originated in the trust that many comrades decided to give us, leaving us space for a path where we put ourselves in discussion, welcomed the criticism being addressed to us and elaborated the reasons why we made a mistake. From this point, we decided to face the situation by trying to spread what had happened as much as possible, looking for direct discussion with comrades, far and near, known and unknown. The goal was not only that of retelling what had happened but to make it an occasion for sincere debate, analysing its problems in all its aspects, with the intention of gaining valid reasoning for everybody. The intent was also that of taking our mistake as an occasion of analysis which passing over the specific case could interest, besides the relation with courts and repression, also other questions such as the possibilities of spreading our projects of struggle or our revolutionary perspectives. In this way, even in the bitterness of the discussions and the harshness of the criticisms we received, we ended up having enriching discussions which we hope we will have also with those we haven’t reached yet.

From our point of view, we think we have developed much more solid, complex and articulated, even if never completed, positions on multiple aspects that the declaration caused to emerge. We want to say that nothing of this story was easy to deal with on a personal and practical level. We are also interested in facing the criticism of those who think we wanted to easily sort the question out privately, and we reiterate that it was not this that pushed us but the will to reach out even far away from us, trying, time after time, to flatten the obstacles of the chosen method as much as possible. However, it is certainly true that to a quantitative spreading of what happened which we also sought we preferred the quality that the different passages could offer us in the direction of an overcoming of the reasons that led us to submit this declaration at the appeal trial. For this reason, in highlighting the commitment we put in understanding how to overcome the difficulties which distances imposed on the chosen method time after time, we apologize for the occasions when we weren’t able to do it.
Today we decided to publish the text submitted at the appeal trial on 26th February 2019 so that those words can be read by everybody and can give clarifications to those who didn’t have any elements. We believe in the discussion between comrades, and we will continue to prefer vis-à-vis ways of discussion, even collective, for those who might be interested in developing the discussion.

Giada and Silvia

Declaration submitted to the court of appeal on 26th February 2019

Following the reading of the court papers and a first discussion we managed to have between us on trial and imprisoned in the same unit of the prison of Ferrara 1, we declare what follows (that in inverted comas is taken from the court papers):

– that we are not part of any “more restricted and secret component” of the usual frequenters of the ex-occupied place called Asilo, the latter normally engaged in gatherings, benefit kitchen, concerts, pickets and various initiatives;

– that we never elaborated any “project” for the realization of the crimes attributed to us or any “distribution of roles” or strategy, made of “phases” or “levels”;

– that the idea or will to indiscriminately harm “an undetermined number of people” such as office secretaries, employees or passers-by doesn’t in any way belong to us;

– that between 2015 and 2017 a debate unfolded in so-called antagonist milieus but also para-institutional ones, a debate concerning excessive and overrated use of DNA as evidence in judicial proceedings, included in a wider critique on social control and the intrusiveness of technology in people’s lives.

A debate which was obviously reflected in various public initiatives, but also in more informal talks between friends. In particular, we recall many discussions concerning the intrusiveness of “Prisoners’ database”, in those years involved in requests for samples, up to then unusual, regarding initiatives in the streets, and in the “No Expo” protests. Requests for sample on which some of the persons involved had also published critiques and analysis in the internet.

Moreover it has to be pointed out how on the occasion of the arrests of 28/11/2016 of friends frequenters of ex-Asilo Occupato, including the defendant Silvia Ruggeri, we learned for the first time of compulsory DNA sample-taking in the case of enforcement of custodial measures, added to the order of critique and reasoning we just mentioned; especially as it was not known whether it was possible to refuse, as is the case in other countries such as France.

Finally it has to be pointed out how many frequenters of Asilo Occupato who took part in the many initiatives in the neighbourhood, were repeatedly given custodial measures in the context of investigations often referring to minor events. In particular we recall the investigations and measures of 18/12/2015 – 18/5/2016 – 29/10/2016 – 3/8/2017, measures that were subsequently dropped or reduced by the Court of Review of Turin and in some cases we saw acquittals during trials or fines largely scaled down compared to the suspected initial seriousness. A reason that led many friends to discuss the intimidating atmosphere put in place by prosecutors towards activities of struggle and protest, making use of practices such as protests and pickets, especially addressed to youths who were joining the initiatives.

Note: 1 The declaration was written in the prison of Ferrara and was also signed by the comrades locked up in the female unit of the Vallete prison in Turin.

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