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PROTESTS

IN PICTURES: Thousands in Italy march for peace in Ukraine

Tens of thousands of Italians marched through Rome on Saturday calling for peace in Ukraine and urging Italy to stop sending of weapons to fight the Russian invasion.

People march with a rainbow flag that says 'no violence' in Rome
People march on November 5, 2022 in Rome during a national peace demonstration by Italian civil society organisations, demanding a ban on all nuclear weapons, solidarity with the Ukrainian people and the victims of all wars. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

“No to war. No to sending weapons”, read one large banner carried by protesters, as a vast crowd broke into cries of “give peace a chance”.

People marching on November 5, 2022 in Rome holding a banner reading “Total disarmament and peace now”. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

Nato founding member Italy has supported Ukraine from the start of the war, including providing it with arms.

A man takes part in the national peace demonstration by Italian civil society organisations working together in the Europe for Peace coalition, holding a placard reading “no more war, weapons and propaganda”. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

New far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has said that will not change and the government has said it is expecting to send more weapons soon.

But some, including former prime minister Giuseppe Conte, have said Italy should be stepping up negotiations instead.

Leader of Italian populist Five Star movement M5S (Movimento Cinque Stelle), Giuseppe Conte (C) marches on November 5, 2022 in Rome. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

The peace rally was attended by some 30,000 people, Rome police told Italian media.

“The weapons were sent at the beginning on the grounds that this would prevent an escalation,” demonstrator Roberto Zanotto told AFP.

People hold banners and placards at the march on November 5, 2022 in Rome. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

“Nine months later and it seems to me that there’s been an escalation. Look at the facts: sending weapons does not help stop a war, weapons help fuel a war.”

Student Sara Gianpietro said the conflict was being dragged out by arming Ukraine, which “has economic consequences for our country, but for the respect of human rights too”.

The Group of Seven foreign ministers, including Italy, on Friday vowed to continue supporting Ukraine in the fight against Russia.

READ ALSO: Q&A: What can we expect from Italy’s new government?

Member comments

  1. I have been a lifelong pacifist, but this is different. It is an unprovoked invasion. Unspeakable war crimes are being committed (torture, rape, bombing of civilian homes and infrastructure). Putin has made it clear that he thinks Ukrainian culture does not deserve to exist. I can’t figure out what kind of negotiation Conte thinks is possible with this war criminal. Let him keep Crimea and Donbas? So that he can fortify his troops and invade more of Ukraine in the future? If he had invaded a few Italian regions I don’t think we would letting him keep, for example, Lombardia or Veneto – or even a small one, such as Molise!

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PROTESTS

Italian climate activists face trial for throwing paint at Senate

An Italian judge ruled on Tuesday that environmental activists who sprayed the Senate building with washable paint, angering the government, must stand trial.

Italian climate activists face trial for throwing paint at Senate

Activists Laura, 26, Davide, 23, and Alessandro, 21, who belong to the Last Generation group and go by their first names, are accused of criminal damage and risk up to three years behind bars.

They were among five climate activists who on Monday used fire extinguishers to spray the front of the upper house of the Italian parliament in Rome with washable orange paint.

It was just the latest of a series of protests in which activists have thrown paint or flour at, or glued themselves to, notable artworks or buildings in Italy, most recently Milan’s La Scala opera house in December, in a bid to focus political and public attention on impending climate disaster.

Their actions were in response to the “willingness of political and economic elites to deliberately choose to condemn much of the global population to drought, famine, war and death,” Laura said in a statement.

Police quickly arrived on the scene on Monday as the activists hurled orange paint across the windows, walls and vast wooden door of Palazzo Madama, home of the Senate.

They seized the fire extinguishers and detained all five activists, before releasing two.

Last Generation said the arrests were “aimed at intimidating and criminalising those who are trying to bring attention to the real crime that this government is perpetrating”.

READ ALSO: Why are climate protesters glueing themselves to Italian artworks?

The trial for the three arrested will begin on May 12, their lawyer Ilaria Salamandra told AFP.

“The defence hopes the court will change the offence,” reducing it to soiling rather than damage, a lesser charge that carries a punishment of between six months to one year, she said.

Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni slammed the protest as an “outrageous gesture”, while Senate speaker Ignazio La Russa, from Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, said it was “cowardly”.

Stefano Feltri, editor of the left-wing Domani newspaper, noted on Monday that climate activists in Italy were “treated more harshly than hooligan leaders who collude with organised crime”.

Last Generation began carrying out peaceful but disruptive protests in Italy last year ahead of the general election, urging politicians from all parties to make climate change their priority.

READ ALSO: Climate activists hurl pea soup at Van Gogh painting in Rome

Activists threw paint at Milan’s famed La Scala opera house last month and have targeted artworks in museums in protests designed not to damage the works, but rather to highlight the risk of environmental disaster.

The group wants Italy to invest more in renewable energy, pause the reopening of old coal power plants, and cancel all fracking operations.

The protests in Italy are part of a series of actions across Europe to focus attention on climate change.

Activists have targeted masterpieces such as the “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer at The Hague’s Mauritshuis museum, Klimt’s “Death and Life” in Vienna’s Leopold Museum or Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” at London’s National Gallery, hurling soup or other food at the paintings behind glass.

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