A look at the operation to clear the self-managed center in Claviere, Val di Susa. Credit: ANSA
A look at the operation to clear the self-managed center in Claviere, Val di Susa. Credit: ANSA

Police cleared a self-managed migrant hosting center at a parish church in northern Italy. The center 'Chez Jesus-Rifugio autogestito' in Alta Valle di Susa was in the basement of the church and managed by members of an anarchist group which had set up the center for asylum seekers in March.

Italian police and Carabinieri investigators cleared a self-managed center called 'Chez Jesus' in the basement of a church in Claviere. 

The church had been occupied since March this year. A total of fifteen anarchists, which included nine Italians and three French nationals, were identified by DIGOS security police and charged with occupation of a building. 

The activists set up an assistance area for migrants who are increasingly attempting to reach France from the Italian valley Val di Susa. Police found two Moroccans and a Gambian hidden in the basement. Authorities issued an expulsion order against one of them while the other two were released.

Mayor says migrants needed to be cleared out

Claviere Mayor Franco Capa said police had to clear out the center ''for a matter of safety and hygiene." 

''Being against borders can be right but letting migrants enter France illegally doesn't make sense: once they have been identified, they are sent back,'' said Capa. 

He added that among those occupying the basement, ''few were convinced they were fighting in the best interest of migrants,'' saying that many were exploiting them to fight institutions. 

Over the past few months, the mayor had tried to mediate between the anarchists and residents while the parish priest of Claviere, Father Angelo Bettoni, reported them to police. That led to the operation to clear the center, which was further accelerated by a recent Italian interior ministry memo on occupations.

Operation draws criticism, praise

The anarchists protested against the police operation calling it a ''shame'' and launching an appeal on social media. The Arci organization also said the operation took place at a time when more space should be devoted to hosting migrants. 

Italian right-wing parties instead hailed the initiative. The right-wing Brothers of Italy MP Augusta Montaruli and national official Maurizio Marrone said the ''eviction has ended a situation of intolerable illegality.'' Meanwhile, officers will patrol the area to prevent new occupations.


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