We stand in solidarity with Gian Andrea Franchi and Lorena Fornasir

by Yasmin Chreiteh

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On the morning of February 23, 2021, police raided the home of Lorena Fornasir, a 68-year-old psychotherapist, and Gian Andrea Franchi, an 84-year-old retired philosophy teacher.

For years, both have been campaigning for the rights of refugees and migrants in the port city of Trieste, Italy. In 2019, they founded the volunteer organization "Linea d'ombra", which raises funds to support people on the move. When people arrive at the borders, they provide them with food, clothing and medical care. They also travel to Bosnia monthly to help local migrants and activists.

The port city is only a few kilometers away from the Slovenian border and presents for many refugees only a stage on an arduous course via the Balkan route, which is supposed to take them to their destination. During the eruption of COVID-19 last year, many people were stuck in the city as the borders were closed one by one. There were up to 200 people in the city, exhausted after the long escape route, with no shelter and in the need of help. Organizations like"Linea d'ombra " supported the people where the government deliberately failed to do so.

In recent months, border controls have been stepped up: people arriving have either been taken directly into custody, usually without any explanation or information, or pushed back to Slovenia. This causes a chain reaction in which the pushbacks reach back via Slovenia through Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where refugees often have to live in inhumane conditions.

Italy, however, denies that these are illegal pushbacks.

At the time of the raid, Gian Andrea sheltered an Iranian-Kurdish family.

Now an investigation is underway against Gian Andrea Franchi, which accuses him of aiding illegal immigration. Their private house that was searched by the police also functioned as the headquarters of the association "Linea d'ombra". Private telephones, business books and a number of files and material were confiscated, which are now used/regarded as evidence.

While states willingly refrain from their obligations to help people in need, they are instead persecuting those who carry out this very neglected duty. The human rights activists, Gian Andrea Franchi and Lorena Fornasir, are now being criminalized for their solidarity. Their actions, which pursue the sole intention of helping people in need, are discredited by the government in public and became the target of police vileness.

We condemn the repressive actions of the Italian state and express our solidarity with those affected. We demand justice for Gian Andrea Franchi and Lorena Fornasir!

On Saturday, the 6th of March 2021, on the occasion of this case, demonstrations will take place across Europe at several European borders, including the Croatian-Bosnian and Italian-French one in Clavière, to demand the opening of the borders and respect for the rights of people on the move.
At the same time, there will be protests in various Italian cities: Milan, Trieste, Lecco, Chiavenna, Vicenza, Bologna, Rome, Palermo, Catania, Syracuse, etc.

A group of women who recognize themselves in the manifesto "Un Ponte di Corpi" sponsored by Lorena Fornasir will use their bodies to build a symbolic bridge between Bosnia and Trieste to cross the border. This positions itself against the constant violence and pushbacks of people at the borders, who try to pursue their aspiration. These events will be held in parallel in Athens, Marseille and also Berlin by us, together with the BalkanBrücke, in solidarity.

The claims are:

  • NO to the violence of rejection
  • NO to racism and discrimination
  • YES to the right inherent in every body to move freely and to go where it believes it can lead a dignified life

Here you can find a short documentary from October 2020 in which they present their work and motivation before they were criminalized and prosecuted for it. 

 

 

 



Friday, March 5 2021

Sources:

- https://www.msf.org/abandoned-italys-borders-stories-people-move
- https://www.borderline-europe.de/sites/default/files/background/UN%20PON...
- https://www.borderviolence.eu/news-from-trieste-covid-19-and-pushbacks/
- https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/migrant-rights-defenders-lore...