Statement by Mark Covell

To begin at the beginning: I went to Genoa to work as a volunteer journalist with Indymedia.
Mark 'Sky' Covell

Mark "Sky" Covell

I am striving to earn my living in the UK as a freelance web designer and editor.

Indymedia was set up before the protests at the World Trade Organisation summit in Seattle in November 1999. Its founders felt that open and fair reporting of anti-capitalist activities required an alternative to those media which are owned by enthusiastic capitalists.

Indymedia mainly publishes reports on the World-Wide Web. It is increasingly used as a source by other media. It now has fifty-six regional centres, from California to Colombia to the Congo.

I spent the entire time I was in Genoa in the Indymedia office in the Via Cesare Battisti. I was the online equivalent of a sub-editor passing pages - and actual page editor for a printed bulletin.

Around midnight on 22 July I left the office to take papers to an information desk in the school across the road. UK journalists Bill Hayton and Arthur Neslen turned up at the office to see me while I was out.

Back on the street I ran smack into a carabiniere. I was hit over the head, then beaten on the ground non-stop for ten minutes. Then perhaps fifty more police ran by, each giving me a kick. I hope none of you ever get to hear your bones breaking inside you as I did.

I passed out. The next thing I remember is being woken around 5am by the British Consul, asking me to sign consent for blood transfusions. I later learned that medical staff feared for my safety because of the large carabinieri presence in the hospital.

I understand that at that time I was still listed by the hospital as "critical", and you know what that means. As you see, I survived - but it still hurts like hell. I will go from here to hospital for further check-ups.

What hurts as much as the attack on my body is the attack on independent media and the obvious cover-up.

The purpose of the Italian police raid on Indymedia may have been to seize film of their earlier actions. It may have been to prevent us reporting their outrageously violent raid on the peaceful protesters' billet on the other side of the street. Either way, it was an attack on the media - your media as much as mine.

Then came the cover-up of the cover-up. On Tuesday I was served with a deportation order, forbidding me from entering Italy for five years. This was clearly intended to frustrate the inquiry launched by the Italian parliament by preventing me giving evidence there. Hundreds of other witnesses among the protesters have also been excluded from Italy.

My doctors' advice was that I was not well enough to travel on Tuesday. On Wednesday I was able to revisit the Via Cesare Battisti with Italian prosecutors, who are investigating criminal proceedings against the police responsible for serious injuries to me, to the Italian journalist Lorenzo Guadagnucci, and to dozens of protesters.

I want to thank those doctors, many very kind people of Genoa, the International Federation of Journalists, the British Consul and countless friends and individual colleagues for their support and solidarity.

I shall be working with colleagues here and in Italy to defeat the cover-up, reverse the deportation orders, and ensure that the truth can be reported.

No State has any right to use the word "democratic" while it uses such means to stop the people hearing what it does in their name. Prime Minister Blair showed contempt for truth in his uncritical support of the Italian police line on what happened and, by his silence on the deportations, of the cover-up.

Prime Minister Berlusconi said that there should be no confusion between those who attacked and those who were attacked. Exactly, Mr Berlusconi.

Last modified: 24 August 2001 - © 2001 contributors
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