June 7, 2020
Tell us why Mediterranea Saving Humans was present and an active participant to the Black Lives Matter rally in Palermo.
It was right to be there. We are outraged for what has happened in the United States, and more in general for what is happening around the world: racism kills. Unfortunately, it has tragically become normal that every day, and for years now, thousands of lives are lost at sea. These people did not die because of an accident, but because of a precise political will.
Political will, whose responsibility is it?
The responsibility lies with governments that let people drown, even though they receive precise information of boats distress at sea, or send them back to the very same torturers: the Libyan militia.
Some might say that the problems in Italy, at the moment, are of another order, for example economic.
People complain when their money is used to pay for migrants’ first-aid and welcome assistance, but they do not complain when it is used to pay torturers, jailers and rapists.
The only solution is opening to legal, safe and much less expensive entry channels than to pay the dictators and their terrible governments, like Erdogan’s, to name one.
Those who opened humanitarian channels, such as the Waldensian Community of Sant’Egidio, demonstrated that with the same money given to Erdogan we could have brought to Europe 2 million and 400 thousand people by plane, and we could have also paid them a full year of assistance.
Are you talking about the Italy-Libya memorandum?
The case of the Italy-Libya memorandum is currently before the International Criminal Court; we are talking about crimes against humanity directly financed by governments. The responsibility is not only of minister Lamorgese [the current Italian minister of interior], but also of former ministers Minniti, Salvini and all previous governments.
This is why I say that the Mediterranean is our "ground zero", if we do not win the battle at sea, no life will ever count. And it is not about the rights of others, the rule of law and our constitutional guarantees are at stake here.
If international laws and human rights can be trampled in that way, and the only law that stands at sea is the law of the jungle, then it will soon be the time for that on land. Somehow it is already happening, and that is why this has become such a fundamental battle.
Meanwhile, the League party claims that Lampedusa was abandoned to its fate by the current government of prime minister Giuseppe Conte.
They are right in saying that this government has abandoned Lampedusa, but the same has been done by all the center-right and center-left previous governments that over the years have administered this country, including the ones with the League party.
They never cared about Lampedusa, they just used it as a stage to show a migration that should not happen this way.
Lampedusa found itself crushed in the middle. We have to realize that it is not normal that migrants would always land there, it is a political choice. The people of Lampedusa are right to be outraged, and they should, but with the Italian government and not with those who are suffering more than them.
Do you think the media have given the right account of the migration phenomenon?
We were given a little more space as soon as we managed to put our ship at sea. Only by going to the Mediterranean as the first vessel of the civil society, did we finally manage to explain why we were doing it.
There is an entire world of media that have accustomed people to absorb news only by slogans, tweets and posts of just 3 words.
Anti-racism, like anti-fascism, are complex concepts contrasting phenomena that are instead more straight-forward: racism and fascism do not speak to people’s mind, but to their guts, and for that reason they are absorbed in a simpler and faster manner.
Talk shows and television broadcasts do not favor good reasoning: they let pass only the easy slogans of propaganda, and not the most complex arguments.
Does that mean that journalists no longer deepen, but they indulge the dominant thinking?
Not all of them. There are also incredible journalists, like Nello Scavo of Avvenire, who is under protection program not by chance, and a few others like him. Our friend Nello has in fact recently been recognized by the ministry of foreign affairs with an award on human rights.
So it is also right to say: it was time!
Yes, it is a pity though that the same foreign ministry is the one to sign off to agreements such as the one with Libya, in clear violation of human rights.
In your opinion, since these days we’re rallying for George Floyd, is Italy under racism threat?
I believe that the danger of racism in Italy is not because people are racist, but because each and every government has always used racism, explicitly or implicitly, as an instrument of mass distraction from the real problems of the country.
If you are repeatedly told "you must take it against those who flee from the war, rape and bombs of Libya" then you end up not protesting any longer against the situation of hospitals falling to pieces, of a debased and inadequate school system, of economic inequalities that in Italy are uniquely dramatic.
It is easy to use racism as a way to dodge people’s anxieties, pinning them to scapegoats... Racism has so become a "normalized" discourse, used by governments to obtain large consensus.
Don’t you think, however, that the outskirts of our cities are in a particular discomfort?
The discomfort is present because it is artificially created by the policies of our governments.
Palermo had instituted a wonderful model for unaccompanied minors, managing to “integrate” (a word that I don’t particularly like) 700 of them in one single year, and making them become part of this city.
They were able to go to middle school and graduate. Some of them even became interns in the luxury shops of Via Libertà, none of them were not exploited in the fields during the harvest season. I remember the competition among the people of Palermo for “whom could be their guardian”.
At the age of 18 and one day, because of the Salvini “safety” decree, they found themselves on the street and without papers. They started to be “a problem” from that very same moment.
It is therefore the politics that turn wrong prophecies into reality: it did happen with that security decree that created a problem where there was none before. It doesn’t take much to realize that regularizing people with documents would make everyone safe.
Allowing "regularization" for hundreds of thousands of undocumented people (and many of them had documents before) does not mean being good, but being reasonable. It means giving security to everyone and allowing them to contribute to the cultural and economic growth of our country.
Why do they decide not to?
Who chooses not to do it is either completely stupid or totally hypocrite. He is a hypocrite because artificially creates discomfort to be able to say later that he was right, failing to govern and hiding behind the excuse "the fault is not mine, but someone else’s".
Original article from: EmmeReports
Director at EmmeReports and freelance photograper. Since 2010, Antonio has been working as news photographer covering stories for national and international news agencies. Working as stringer photographer for AGF, Pacific Press Agency and Alamy. His pictures have been distributed by many agencies including: Agence France Presse (AFP), Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Press Association (paimages). Some of his publications include: The Guardian, Internazionale, The Times, Liberation, FranceTV, Le Point, Irish Mirror, Corriere della Sera, Il Manifesto, Il Sole 24 ore and Wired. Since 2016, he is a member of the Collective buenaVista* photo (portfolio). He studied at Università degli Studi di Palermo. Currently lives in Palermo, Italy.