13 immigrants sew mouths shut in Italy in protest at length of detention
ROME (Reuters) - Thirteen Moroccan migrants held in a reception centre in Rome for more than two months have sewed their mouths shut in protest at the length of their detention, police and campaigners said on Sunday.
Italy has struggled to absorb thousands of immigrants in recent years, many of them fleeing the civil war in Syria and travelling through North Africa to the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa on flimsy boats. More than 40,000 arrived last year.
The issue has become a political battleground. Rights groups have complained about the conditions in centres while the anti-immigration Northern League has attacked the government, saying it was being too generous to new arrivals, especially at a time of recession.
The thirteen, who arrived in October and were taken to the Ponte Galeria centre the following month, sewed their mouths shut on Saturday night, repeating a protest they staged at the end of last year, said police.