The militarisation of the Susa Valley: final act & Brief History of the No TAV movement

12.11.11

Berlusconi’s moribund government has finally managed to pass a decree – with the opposition’s approval – that formalises the current state of militarisation in the Susa Valley. The construction site in La Maddalena will become a “site of strategic national interest”, that is, a military area. The consequences for those who trespass will be the same imposed by law for any other military area trespass: a prison sentence between 3 months and one year, or the payment of a fine between 51 and 309 Euro. That’s not it, though! The rock extracted on the site will become a legal construction material, even if contaminated by uranium, asbestos and other chemical products released by the excavation process. This will have a huge impact on the industry of the “great useless public works” beloved by the current government; and it’s a huge present to the construction mafia. Also, it’s another heavy attack to freedom of protest and dissent, and a clear message for the people of the Val Susa: don’t disturb the construction!

In the meantime, a couple of weeks ago a public youth hostel managed by an organisation close to the NO TAV movement was attacked and vandalised. The building is often used by NO TAV protesters coming from the surrounding areas. The attackers stole money and damaged the furniture. Special attention was reserved to the books, magazines and original materials about the Antifascist Resistance which the building makes available to the public. Just in case it wasn’t clear who was behind the attack.

Nevertheless, the state of permanent mobilisation declared last May by the NO TAV carries on; the national tour that started in October in Bologna will conclude in the next few days in Genoa, and more initiatives have been announced to protest against the new decree. 

Sources: this article, and various other things borrowed and recycled from Italy Indymedia.

Written/translated by Italy Calling.

NO TAV (No to the High Speed Train) is a movement based in the Susa Valley in Piedmont that opposes the creation of the new high speed railway line between Turin and Lyon in France. This line is part of a EU project which plans to connect Lyon to Budapest and then onto Ukraine. Similar protest movements were active in the early 90s in Florence, Bologna and Rome, but their militancy and the brutal repression that this triggered in the Susa Valley has made the Piedmontese movement the most talked about.

The simple principle behind the movement is that a new high speed railway line in the Valley is completely useless and not needed, its only purpose being the profit of the many private companies that have shares in it. The NO TAV  think that the current railway line between Piedmont and France is more than sufficient, considering that traffic in the area has never been incredibly high. More importantly, the construction of the line would utterly and irreversibly destroy a huge part of the Susa Valley, causing not only an environmental but also an economic and social disaster, with businesses closing down and villages being completely disfigured or disappearing.

High speed railway lines in Italy are considered to be of “strategic interest”, which translated from political bullshit language means that the law allows this type of works WITHOUT consulting the local population and institutions whatsoever. At a time of economic collapse such as Italy is going through, the works require billions of Italian taxpayers’ money, at the expense of primary services like education and health. It would mainly be construction and other private companies profiting from it, but when finished and in use, the low demand for the line would end up making it a loss-making burden on the taxpayers. Like in Rossport, Ireland, the locals’ concerns and proposals are being completely ignored in the name of the only Modern God: money.

The NO TAV came up with their own plan for the area which would include:
- changing the production and distribution processes to decrease transport of people and goods, especially on long distances
- supporting local sustainable trades instead of big industries  
- creating or improving local means of sustainable and green transport for workers and students
- supporting and incrementing the use of the already existing local railway line

The main source of this article is Turin’s NO TAV website.