Protest calls for stronger measures to fight crime

Updated: 2012-01-12 08:07

(China Daily)

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ROME - United by a common sense of grief and outrage, thousands of Chinese immigrants took to the streets of Rome on Tuesday to protest at a lack of security in the Italian capital following the murder of a Chinese man and his baby daughter last week.

Tearful demonstrators held white candles and flowers in the march to the crime scene.

A banner at the demonstration read: "No to violence, more security", and many people held up large photographs of the victims.

"People are exasperated," said one organizer, Lucia King, who put the number of demonstrators in the immigrant-heavy Piazza Vittorio neighborhood at about 10,000. "Some people have been robbed or mugged six or seven times."

A Chinese woman, Silvia Xing, who herself was robbed and beaten by two muggers in her bar in Milan, said: "Recently our community has reported an increasing number of criminal robberies."

The scale of the demonstration, rare in Italy's Chinese community, has improved Italian people's awareness of the nation's Chinese community, and indicated the community's increasing awareness of its rights.

"The willingness of Chinese in Europe to stand up for their rights has increased significantly in recent years, due to the arrival of increasing numbers of new immigrants," said Ding Chun, director of the Center for European Studies of Fudan University.

On Monday, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano visited Zhou Zheng's widow Zheng Liyan in a hospital to express his condolences.

China's Ambassador to Italy Ding Wei expressed "shock and dismay" over the murder and called on police to act quickly to catch the killers.

Zheng, who is being treated at Rome's San Giovanni Hospital, ran a bar and a currency exchange in Rome with her husband.

The couple were on their way home with their baby when two armed robbers approached them and demanded cash.

They shot dead Zhou and his nine-month-old daughter after their demands were rejected.

"I think Zhou was typical of Chinese immigrants in Europe. Hard working, thrifty and low-profile," Ding said.

The crime has shocked Italy and raised fears about the security of its growing Chinese community and other minority groups in the country. Rome alone is home to about 50,000 Chinese people.

"There is concern," Marco Wong, head of the Associna community group, said at the protest.

"There have been various incidents. Many of the transactions here are done in cash and that's why the people here become natural targets."

The police have said they are hunting for two Moroccan suspects, and Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno has promised a crackdown on crime.

Cao Ting, a graduate student in Rome, said the incident made her worried about her personal security, but what she felt most was outrage.

"How brutal are these people to have killed a baby?" she asked.

Although theft and robbery is a common experience for Chinese and other foreigners in major Italian cities, such brutality is rare, according to Ding.

The demonstration also drew many local people.

"I came here as I thought it was right to express my mourning to these people living so close to me. We all belong to the same family," said Milan resident Roberto Marcheselli, while holding a candle.

AFP-Xinhua-China Daily

(China Daily 01/12/2012 page11)