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Italian Prisoners’ hungerstrike against life sentences

March 9th, 2009 · post by anon · Make a comment

The “Mai Dire Mai” (“Never Say Never”) campaign against life sentences began over a year ago when 300 lifers in Italy wrote to the president, Napolitano, telling him he may as well change their life sentences to death sentences.

Within the European Union, in theory, the life penalty no longer exists as all countries foresee the possibility of reviewing the sentence and the application of conditional freedom once a certain amount of time has elapsed since a prisoner was brought into custody. This is generally referred to as ’a life sentence subject to periodical revision’. The amount of time involved varies from one state to another, from 26 years in Italy, 20/25 in the UK, 20 in Greece, 15 in France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, 12 in Denmark and 7 years in Ireland. However, in Italy, non-cooperation with authority, or a conviction connected to participation in organised crime, terrorist groups or prison revolts allow the authorities to apply a different regime, meaning that most lifers have no hope of parole, day leave, anything – once convicted, they are caught by the state, forever.

Hungerstrikes have been re-launched as a rolling protest in December 2008, with prisoners in each region taking turns for one week at a time. This coming week, the 9th-16th March, will be the last week of regional protest (in Rebibbia and other prisons around Rome). On Monday 16th March, prisoners all over Italy will be on strike for one final day.

The prisoners ask: ‘Our struggle could become yours, by asking for:

- a rejection of the life sentence: because the hope of freedom is needed to not transform punishment into a psychological and social death

- a rejection of the differentiations in the treatment of prisoners that mask threats, intimidation, violence, abuse and cruelty.

The “Mai Dire Mai” campaign has found solidarity both inside and outside the prison walls, in Germany, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, France and Chile. There have been actions in solidarity with the lifers’ struggle in many Italian cities, and sit-ins outside the striking prisons, as happened on Sunday at Rebabbia.

From the callout for support for the Rome prisoners: ‘We support prisoners and their struggle. Prison is a brutal symbol of a society based on exploitation, discrimination (race, sex and class-based), segregation and laws which stifle our every freedom. The prisons have been built far from our eyes, in an effort to make us forget our complicity in their existence. Liberating ourselves includes destroying the prisons.’

Information in English:

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