12 April 2019
Borderline Sicilia Newsletter – February/March 2019
- The Mediterranean’s Shadow Zone
- The End of Reception, The Beginning of Speculation
- Rights on Dry Land Against the Spreading Racism
THE MEDITERRANEAN’S SHADOW ZONE
The criminalisation of the NGO rescue ships in the Central Mediterranean, initiated by the former Minister of the Interior, Marco Minniti, and brought to accomplishment by the current Minister, Matteo Salvini, aims to create a shadow zone within the Mediterranean Sea, through which to eliminate any witnesses to the shipwrecks suffered by migrants departing Libya. The clearest example of these policies has been the blocking of rescue missions at sea, as is the case with Sea Watch III, blocked at the port of Catania for more than two weeks for security reasons. However, despite the rhetoric of ‘closed ports’, the landings continue, as the Mayor of Lampedusa confirms, who reports on the isolation experienced by the island over recent months.
The blocking of rescue missions and the consequent reduction in arrivals on dry land corresponds to an increase in violence and deaths, making the Central Mediterranean route the most dangerous migrant journey in the world. As shown in a report published by Borderline Sicilia with Oxfam, the Italy-Libya agreement is responsible for the 5,300 deaths over the past two years and the systematic violence and violations of human rights that, even in a culture of silence, have taken place daily in the hell of the Libyan camps. The shadow zone of the Mediterranean is legitimising an inhumane political line that denies not only migrants’ rights but even their very existence.
THE END OF RECEPTION, THE BEGINNING OF SPECULATION
The Italian government is trying to fool public opinion by pretending that the struggle against those who have been speculating over migration has been having some real results, thanks the new laws that regulate migrant reception. The published figures from government and independent bodies give the lie to this claim, showing how the corrupt business of migrant reception and the hidden economy is, in reality, being supported by the so-called ‘Salvini decree’. The creation of new “irregulars” means that the countryside has a constant supply of low-cost manual labour to exploit while the sale of human beings continues to find a flourishing market.
Aside from the speculation, the violence is also continuing: the destruction of the reception system is making “irregular” migrants a target for campaigns of hatred as well as for raids that simply support the pairing of “migration” and “insecurity”. Thus a complex system of structural violence against migrants – all-encompassing and naturalised – is being established.
While funds for reception are being cut, detention centres like the CPRs* are alive and well, and the periodic deportation of “irregular” migrants to their countries of origin continues. At the end of January, a young Tunisian man tried to flee from the CPR at Pian del Lago (CaltanisSetta), suffering serious wounds in his attempt to evade the police.
RIGHTS ON DRY LAND AGAINST THE SPREADING RACISM
The poisonous propaganda based on a prejudiced hostility towards migrants and foreigners is unleashing xenophobia and making public discourse consciously discriminatory and racist. Disrespect for minorities and the other is being felt on a generalised level and proliferating in practices and narratives founded in everyday saying and prejudices.
The recent report by the Migration Observatory “Immigrant Integration Europe” uses statistics to bust many of the false myths and show that there is no invasion in Italy. Migration is impacting all of Europe and the majority is between member states – more than 50% of people – than from outside of Europe.
The creation of the migrant drop-in centre Terraferma (Italian for dry land, TN) in Bagheria is an important action in the face of racist discrimination. The drop-in is a place for listening and signposting, providing social and legal information and favouring civil coexistence in the area. In opposition to the expanding episodes of institutional and social racism, it provides a new approach to sustain and support migrants in accessing and exercising their rights.
*CPR = Centri permanenti per il rimpatrio.
Translation: Richard Braude