Montag, 23. Mai 2016

Lampedusa: The Protests End But The Violations Continue

Up until yesterday the Hotspot at Lampedusa held around 380 people (including a dozen women). The number of unaccompanied minors was hovering around 90 people, among whom there were five young Nigerian women and girls, who arrived on the island on the same day that a fire rendered an entire building in the Contrada Imbriacola centre uninhabitable.

A large number of minors are kept on the island for more than 4 to 6 weeks, held in close proximity with the adults, in trucks where the lights are never switched off , and “punished” with the same treatment as the men and women who, in recent days, have protested against the Italian identification system and the Dublin treaty regulations on which state they have to apply to for asylum, by refusing to give their fingerprints. Across the island there is tension in the air, the product of a media campaign which, for the umpteenth time, distorted the image of Lampedusa as a tourist spot, and yet again on the eve of the Summer season. But there is more than this. The discontent passes through the hard criticisms of the mayor, accused of not having done enough for Lampedusans, of not intervening in a decisive manner in the days of the protest in order to safeguard the range of interests at play, and of only profiting from the wave of media attention for the cynical personal ends of a political career. And what's more, this is all in a land in which citizens are afraid to express their own dissent against the poor management of the migratory flow and the political speculation which damages the island economically, because of the blackmailing (unregulated commerce, unlicensed building works, a clientele culture). It is for this reason that the dustmen have been on strike and protesting in the square, notwithstanding the pressure and attempts at boycott hailing from a range of institutions. We should ask who is scared of dustmen. No one, might be the response – if it were not the case that for a person like that to raise their head above the parapet might be seen as a sign of the population waking up, tired of suffering and without any true representation. What would happen if the 6,000 people (obviously excluding the 70 families who have direct interests in the migration business) were to fill the square, calling out the shame of this all, and reclaiming their own rights?
In all likelihood we are dreaming. But maybe not, given that the first inevitable consequences of the ferocity by which Lampedusa was state-militarised is being continually and always more frequently shown, through the high instances of tumours recorded among the population (a rate of one case in every family).

Germana Graceffo
Borderline Sicilia

Translation by Richard Braude