Freitag, 30. September 2011

Report from Lampedusa 30.9. - 2.10.2011

It's been since yesterday that many tourists have left and we are trying to further understand the needs of Askavusa and the Lampedusans in general. We spoke with the Askavusa association, who have discussed their intention to launch a new festival for New year ( from the 28/12 to the 2/01) as part of the campaign “Io vado a Lampedusa” to attract responsible tourism for the winter, setting their sights on a huge concert, with traditional locally sourced food, collaborating with the solidarity brigades.

There are still many doubts on the feasibility of the idea, but this is the manifestation that the association would like better assistance for, as it would allow them to obtain a positive concrete result for the island. Askavusa has been working hard to obtain funds for a permanent immigration museum since 2005. They want something which aims to value the shipwrecks and commemorate objects which are discovered on the migrant boats from a historical and artistic point of view. The Department of Culture on Lampedusa has not only never given an answer, but has even copied the idea of the project delivered by Giacomo Sferlazzo ( I think in 2008) by presenting a new project in a private villa in Rome for an immigration museum. Their plans didn't involve Askavusa but other subjects and artists from different parts of the world. The project is already financed by Parliament, the (Sicilian) Regional Government and maybe other entities. Giacomo found out what had happened by chance, he went to the presentation and denounced the situation. He states that the Assessor is expropriating the Lampedusans of an important project for the potentiality of the inhabitants and that he can precisely and punctually demonstrate what he says. It's possible to watch the video of this presentation on Facebook. The association intends to proceed via legal means to repossess the propriety of the project.
Furthermore the young members of Askavusa pay €400 a month for the rent and complain about the complete lack of services, social spaces and places for recreational activities for youths. The adolescents often spend their time playing video games, or else hang about in the street and furthermore the only secondary school present has impractical sections, which means the students have to do evening shifts to attend the lessons. The teenagers of Askavusa would like to set up a rehearsal room for musicians and they are discussing which places they could use to carry out the project. They have already tried to ask the Council for help in the past, they have collected signatures (for a skate park for example) but their requests have never been taken into consideration. Moreover there aren't even subsidies to continue with their studies outside the island or to access the national health service (for example, giving birth is a very expensive).
The O'Scia Festival has come to a close, the Lampedusans have demonstrated that even this year they are very appreciative towards Baglioni and the organisers. Nevertheless the references to the migratory phenomenon and what has happened, have been really superficial and poor. Baglioni commented on the difficult period the island has foreseen, saying that he has had the merit to make the Lampedusan community rediscover the importance of staying united when facing difficult times, respect towards the other, fraternity towards all human beings; an actor read a passage from Martin Luther King and in a video Franco Battiato read some verses from an Arab Sicilian poet, lbn Hamd†s, from the XI century.
So many artists have expressed their closeness to the Lampedusans and have praised the island, saying how it makes them proud to be Italian. The praise of the Lampedusans has been the main theme of the festival, together with continued references to the differences between North and South. There were few references to the conditions of less fortunate countries of the world, to the countries at war and reception, but many people complained that a festival organised for the migrants and cross culture dedicated so little space to the theme.
While the festival was coming to a close you could hear the sirens of police cars, as rumours of new landings of clandestine migrants started to circulate.
Overall the elder members of the community are worried and convinced that these people end up robbing for food in the end. The reality is that it was a Tunisian fishing boat that was having difficulty at sea and needed to be rescued. A cultural mediator from Save the Children assured me that the centre is completely empty. It was only on the 29th or 28th that 22 Tunisian migrants disembarked in Linosa and after spending some time at a sports hall, they were transferred to other centres.
Also the Save the Children employee was in the refugee camps between Libya and Tunisia with a project in May and while he was there, he encountered the same friends he had met 5 years ago during his trip from Eritrea to Europe. Those comrades unfortunately hadn't made it and were still there.
I even met a Tunisian boy, who arrived in January and benefits from humanitarian protection now. A priest has helped him and he now produces and sells ceramics. He supports Ghannouci and was a member of a political party we are unable to identify. As far as we know, the priest has condemned the recent violence in his sermons and often praises the Reception. Unfortunately the church has been broken into twice and there are suspicions that it malicious.

Daniela Caldarella
Palermo Anti-Racist Forum