U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice - Rome Italy anti-war demonstration in Rome

Past Events

Solidarity with Bradley Manning
December 17, 2011

No to "war as usual"
March 19, 2010

Winter Soldier Europe
March 14, 2009

Palestinian Flags Flutter
Alongside Peace Banners

January 17, 2009

Close Guantanamo Now!
January 17, 1009

10-Day Vigil for Gaza
January 8-18, 2009

Supporting La'Onf
October 29, 2008

Free the Cuban 5
Sept 13, 2008

Cheney in Chains
Sept 8, 2008

No Bush, No War
June 11, 2008

May Day ILWU Solidarity Action
May 1, 2008

War Tax Day
April 15, 2008

World Social Forum Global Day of Action
Jan 26, 2008

Shut Down Guantánamo Now!
Jan 11, 2008

No U.S. Military Base in Vicenza
Dec 15, 2007

Meeting Iranian Artists
Dec 05, 2007

End the War in Iraq, No War on Iran
Oct 27, 2007

Report on Final Days of No Dal Molin Festival in Vicenza, Italy
Sept 16, 2007

Camping for Peace in Vicenza, Italy
Sept 12, 2007

Impeach Them Both +
Judiciary Fax Blast

July 23, 2007

I-M-P-E-A-C-H !
April 28, 2007

4th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq
March 20, 2007

No Dal Molin, Vicenza, Italy
Feb 17, 2007

Congress: Act Now to End the War
Jan 27, 2007

No Military Bases, Vicenza, Italy
Dec 2, 2006

No War, No Cluster Bombs
Sept 23, 2006

Protest Calling for Cease-fire in Lebanon
July 26, 2006

Military Spending
Bean Poll

July 18, 2006

Stop the Escalation
in the Middle East

July 17, 2006

Refusing to Kill
July 06, 2006

Shailja Patel:
Poetry in Times
of War

July 05, 2006

Troops Home Fast
July 04, 2006

Italian Vote on
Military Missions

June 27, 2006

Peace Parade
June 02, 2006

Michael Uhl of
Veterans for Peace

April 29, 2006

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
Hidden in Plain Sight

April 26, 2006

War Tax Day
April 15, 2006

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
Hotel Palestine: Killing the Witness

April 12, 2006

National Anti-war Protest in Rome
March 18, 2006

Soldiers Against War
March 18, 2006

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
Aristide and the Endless Revolution

March 15, 2006

Women (and men!) Say No To War
March 8, 2006

An Eyewitness Account of Post Katrina New Orleans
March 2, 2006

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
Life and Debt

February 09, 2006

Vote to Renew Italian Mission in Iraq
February 09, 2006

Cindy Sheehan
February 06, 2006

NBC Today
Show Blitz

February 06, 2006

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
The Revolution Will
Not Be Televised

January 26, 2006

Cindy Sheehan
In Rome

January 18, 2006

Crimes & Lies:
with Dave Lindorff
and Maurizio Torrealta

January 13, 2006

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
Peace Propaganda and
the Promised Land

January 12, 2006

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
The Oil Factor

December 15, 2005

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
Plan Colombia

December 01, 2005

Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre
November 30, 2005

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series

November 17, 2005

Protest at U.S. Embassy: White Phosphorus in Fallujah
November 14, 2005

Control Arms Petition
at Piazza Chiesa Nuova

November 12, 2005

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
Invisible Ballots

November 10, 2005

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
The Corporation

October 27, 2005

Movie Night:
Viva Zapatero

October 25, 2005

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
Hidden Wars of
Desert Storm

October 13, 2005

Anti-war rally
at U.S. Embassy

Sept 24, 2005

USC4P&J Social
at the Beehive

June 22, 2005

Die-In with
Articolo 11
at Palazzo Chigi

June 21, 2005

Collecting Photos
with Control Arms

June 18, 2005

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series

June 16, 2005

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series

June 09, 2005

Eyes Wide Open
Film Series
Weapons of
Mass Deception

May 19, 2005

Vigil at Palazzo Chigi with Articolo 11
May 05, 2005

Vigil at Palazzo Chigi with Articolo 11
April 28, 2005

Vigil at Palazzo Chigi with Articolo 11
April 21, 2005

International Day of Protest
March 19, 2005

No War, No Cluster Bombs

Protest at Cluster Bomb Factory in Colleferro
In solidarity with the "Declaration of Peace"

The town of Colleferro, just outside of Rome, has a long history with the arms industry – it was, in fact, founded under Fascism as a factory town, the factory being a gunpowder concern. One of the streets, for example, is named via degli Esplosivi (Explosives Way). The town is currently home to a number of companies operating in the weapons industry, including Simmel Difesa, a munitions manufacturer and cluster bomb producer.

On September 23, local peace groups, who have been working to raise consciousness and reconvert the town's industrial base from military to civilian, organized an event that included a march through town, a sit-in at the gates of the factory, debates on the town square, films and presentations. [See the original appeal]

The date of September 23 also fell within the week of the Declaration of Peace, endorsed by over 500 groups in the U.S. planning close to 400 actions in the United States calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq and the launch of a new era of peace and justice. For our group, U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice - Rome, it was a perfect opportunity to show solidarity to both activists back home as well a local groups here in Italy, who welcomed the opportunity to link to the events in the U.S.

As we waited for the march to start, we had a chance to talk with local activists who told us of their struggle against the indifference of the townspeople as well as the very real problem of few alternatives for jobs. However, events such as this have succeeded in bringing attention to the kind of products coming out of these factories: for example many of the local residents were completely unaware that cluster bombs were produced in Colleferro.

Alberto, a volunteer with Emergency showed us the dossier he has put together on Simmel Difesa. If you look at the home page of the Simmel web site, you find a denial that they produce cluster munitions, stating that they have the capability to produce them but have not done so since 2000. The very fact that this is the one and only thing on their home page makes you wonder. Alberto had information on Simmel's presentations at international weapons expos and trade fairs, which included the cluster bombs. And in fact, as late as October 2004 Simmel still had their 2004 catalog on-line, which also included cluster bombs. Following actions by the local groups, Simmel took their catalog offline. But thanks to the Way Back Machine at Internet Archive, you can still find the catalog. (click on the link for Oct 15, 2004)

As a side note, the aluminum tubes the Bush administration claimed Saddam Hussein was attempting to purchase for the Iraqi nuclear weapons program – but which the Iraqis said all along were instead for producing artillery rockets – match the tubes that Simmel produces for its rocket, the Medusa 81. In fact, you can see on www.fredsakademiet.dk/library/lies.pdf, (page 12) that the tubes match down to a fraction of a millimeter as well as the specific type of aluminum used.

The march got underway behind the lead banner which read Reconvert the Death Factories. There were about 150 participants, ten percent of which were U.S. citizens! We were carrying U.S. peace flags and signs that read "Cluster Bombs: The New Landmines", "Drop Today. Kill Tomorrow" and "AAA Unexploded bomblet seeks innocent child. Contact Simmel Difesa," all making reference to the high rate of unexploded submunitions that remain on the ground, killing and maiming long after the initial bombardments.

We stopped for a sit-in in front of the factory and a large red "bomb" was launched over the closed gates. The march continued back to the town square and we gave out flyers (150 in all!) to the people along the way who had stopped to watch.

Back at the town square, the debates began with Alberto of Emergency who presented more of his dossier on Simmel and the local arms industry, which also included detailed information on bank transfers tracing the sales of weapons.

As a representative of our group, I was invited to speak and talked about the militarization of the U.S., with the provision in the No Child Left Behind legislation which forces public high schools to give the Pentagon personal data on all students to be used for recruitment, militarization of research at the university level, with 50% of funds coming from the Department of Defense, 70% in faculties such as engineering and computer science. I also talked about the events taking place in the U.S. as part of the Declaration of Peace. This got a round of applause from the crowd.

Massimo, a nurse and also a volunteer for Emergency gave a presentation on the organization's work, including their hospitals in Afghanistan where 75% of the population has been injured by mines. He announced that Emergency had recently recruited volunteers and formed a sister organization in the U.S. (See www.emergencyusa.org) He also talked about Italy's history as a leading producer of landmines, including the notorious Valmara, designed to pop up to about waist height before exploding. We commented on the mindset of the engineers who designed this "feature."

The rest of the evening, which went on until midnight, included locally produced wines and breads and more discussion of the issues with the locals. The organizers commented on our U.S. peace flags and asked where they could get one, so we gave them one to keep for use in future events.

This was a local event, but by no means a "not in my backyard" type protest. And for us it was a chance to build community with Italian activists outside of Rome and get to know the local reality, as well as a chance for local residents to get to know the "other" America.

Stephanie Westbrook

The following message was sent by Gene Rizzo to our list calling on members to participate in the demonstration.

Why Go to Colleferro?

I choose to demonstrate tomorrow because cluster bombs are about the most awful, the most inhuman things yet devised. If possible, they are even worse than landmines, which at least are map-charted and in theory defusable at a later date (at what cost!).

I feel anything that can be done to throw a monkey-wrench into the production of cluster bombs, or at least to call attention to the deep shame of their production - to raise people's consciousness concerning these malefic weapons - is time well spent.

Let's get the word out!

Read the accompaning article that appeared in Haaretz.

And that's what the ISRAELIS are saying about them ... just imagine being on the receiving end!

The United States is the largest producer of these unspeakable devices, and the largest supplier. WE and we alone gave Israel thousands upon thousands of cluster bombs, and sure enough they were employed - practically all in the final days of the attack on Lebanon, when it was already known there was to be an imminent halt to hostilities!

Could anything be more cynical and inhuman?

Moreover, by their very nature, cluster bombs primarily affect civilians - often years after they've been seminated. Just take a moment (and a deep breath) to think about the implications of that.

All of this is WHOLLY UNACCEPTABLE, and I want to play my part - however small - in having this awful scourge unequivocably banned from the face of the earth.

Come to Colleferro!

Eugene Raymond Rizzo - USC4P&J


Event Resources

Gene's rousing call to Come to Colleferro!

Press release

Comunicato stampa

Flyer / volantino

Cluster Bomb Resources

FAQ on Cluster Munitions by the Cluster Munition Coalition.

Human Rights Watch documents on cluster bombs.

IDF commander: We fired more than a million cluster bombs in Lebanon on Haaretz.

September 6 Vote in the U.S. Senate on an amendment to "protect civilian lives from unexploded cluster munitions." Failed, 70 to 30.

Rai News 24 Video on Simmel Difesa and cluster bombs [in Italian].

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Copyright © 2006 Stephanie Westbrook  All rights reserved
U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice - Rome, Italy