Economic crisis suicide widows protest in Italy

2012-05-04 14:19

The widow of a man driven to despair by Italy’s economic crisis, who set himself alight outside a tax office, led a small protest today, a day after an armed man took hostages in a tax agency.

“My husband would have never done something like that. He burned himself alive in front of the tax office ... They should ask themselves some questions and give us some answers,” the woman, Tiziana Marrone, told reporters.

“This is a protest to remember those who have committed suicide. People who leave their families in total despair and not because they want to,” she said.

Prime Minister Mario Monti has implemented a series of harsh austerity reforms to beat Italy’s debt crisis and an economic recession has deepened.

Around 100 people took part in the protest in Bologna, where builder Giuseppe Campaniello set himself on fire on March 28 in a gesture that shocked Italy and put pressure on politicians to get the economy growing again.

The “White Widows” group that organised the protest waved white banners.

Yesterday, a man armed with a shotgun and two pistols took a dozen tax office employees hostage in the Lombardy region in the industrial heartland of northern Italy, saying he had had enough of tax debts.

After a stand-off lasting several hours during which he fired a gun into the air, the man released the hostages unharmed and was arrested.

The CGIA business association this week said 32 businessmen have committed suicide in Italy so far this year because of the crisis.

Experts say Italy’s suicide rate has risen sharply to seven suicides per 100 000 inhabitants as the recession has worsened.

Italy’s unemployment rate reached a record of 9.8% in March.

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