Lampedusa – Migrants in revolt destroy the detention centre (Italy)
Owing to the recent conflicts in North Africa, thousands more migrants, in addition to the many desperate people trying to reach Europe every day, have no other choice than to escape from their countries. Many die drowned on the sea bed along with the crammed ships on which they travel.
In Italy, North African migrants escaping from the recent conflicts are kept in a ‘legal limbo’ waiting for their asylum claims to be processed. This can take months, during which time migrants are compelled to live in designated structures. In most cases they are finally moved to so called CIE (prisons for immigrants), where they are held captive in appalling conditions for months on end before being deported to their countries.
Lampedusa, an isle off the cost of Sicily, is the final destination of most boats of immigrants coming from African countries. The local immigration detention centre has been the scene of a great number of revolts throughout the last years, including a fire that partially destroyed it in February 2009.
On 20th September Tunisian migrants forced to reside in that centre held a demonstration and took to the streets. Some of them took hold of three gas cylinders from a nearby restaurant and threatened to make them explode. Anti-riot cops heavily charged the demonstrators while a number of inhabitants of the island joined the cops in the ‘manhunt’ against the immigrants. Protests also broke inside the detention centre, where migrants clashed with the police and set fire to the place. Two thirds of the structure became unfit for use and the local airport had to close down owing to the smoke provoked by the fire.
Here is a communiqué from Macerie:
Once again Lampedusa is burning. Any sincere enemy of borders and deportations is thrilled by this nth fire ignited by anger and will of freedom, and at the same time he or she is shaking with rage at the words of mayor De Rubeis [the mayor of Lampedusa]: ‘This is a war scenario. There is a population who can’t stand it any more, they want to take to the streets armed with truncheons and defend themselves’. These words sound like proper incitement to civil war and, as we all know very well, they can be taken very seriously. At this point, any sincere enemy of borders and deportations can’t stop at contemplating ‘others’ anger’, no matter where it comes from. It is necessary to be ready with ideas and proposals, which are up to the seriousness of the situation and, most importantly, to its potentials. ‘Up to the situation’ simply means this: whoever gave some generically antiracist speech at some hypothetical meeting, a speech full of all the banalities of the case (‘we too were migrants, we have to welcome them’, and so on) and proposed, for example, to hand out leaflets outside the town hall, he or she would run the risk to be slapped in the face, which is maybe what they deserve. On the contrary, if the problem was ‘the very existence of the detention centre’ and the proposal was ‘let’s destroy what is left of it and let’s prevent it from being rebuilt’, then the real possibility would occur that a number of angry inhabitants of Lampedusa, angry at both the government and the immigrants, decide to set De Rubeis’ truncheons aside and instead grab crowbars, batons, pickaxes and everything is needed to finish off the work of destruction that migrants in revolt have already started.
20th September 2011
This entry was posted on Saturday, October 1st, 2011 at 1:57 am and is filed under No Borders.