Around 6th February 2023, jointly coordinated, decentralised commemorative actions took place in many cities in North and West Africa as well as in Europe – CommemorActions. The occasion was the 6th February of 2014, when the Spanish Guardia Civil used rubber bullets and tear gas against migrants trying to swim from Tarajal in Morocco to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, killing 15 people.
„We continue to believe – despite the inhumane policies of northern governments towards migrants – in a society where freedom of movement for all is possible and remains a fundamental right. To migrate is a right!“
„Alarm Phone Mauritania in collaboration with the Association for the Protection and Reintegration of Women, the Association for the Protection of Migrants and the Association for the Platform of Civil Society organised in Nouadhibou, Mauritania, the Tarajal CommemorAction day. An action that was welcomed by all participants in the event with the intention to organise such an action every year.“
„Migrate to live not to die – under this title on 6th February 2023, some 150 to 200 people gathered near the ocean, opposite the town of Thiaroye-sur-Mer, Senegal, to honour those who have disappeared or died along the migration routes, and to inform each other about the political background of these repeated tragedies.
The event was organised by Boza Fii, a solidarity organisation for returned migrants in Senegal, and by Alarm Phone Dakar in collaboration with AJRAP and the Association Ben Thiaroye-sur-Mer. Other associations participated and contributed in the spirit of building alliances against a murderous border regime. “Many people in Senegal don’t really understand what is happening in the border regions,” explained Saliou, the president of Boza Fii, later. “It was really important to show the video reconstruction of what happened during the Mellila massacre in June 2022,” noted Ibrahim, one of the main organisers of Boza Fii.
The participants walked to the nearby beach to read the call for justice, truth and reparations before a series of CommemorAction events. A mother who lost her son in the borderlands explained how she had approached the responsible authorities to ask what had happened to her son. She launched a search request. So far they have found nothing.
„In Tunis the CommemorAction was organised on February 4th by a large coalition of independent activists and civil society organisations, including Tunisian families of the disappeared and people from different countries residing in Tunisia who have lost their loved ones. In front of the municipal theatre of Tunis the fight against the murderous border system and the demands for truth and justice for the victims of irregular migration were affirmed.“
„We make a promise to ourselves: that we will not forget those who lost their lives and we will fight the borders that killed them. We offer a space of remembrance and we will collectively build something out of our grief. We are not alone and we will not give up. We will continue to fight for freedom of movement for all in our daily lives, we demand truth, justice and reparation for the victims of migration and their families.“
„Simultaneously to the CommemorAction in Oujda by the association of support to migrants in vulnerable situations (AMSV), an open letter was delivered to the ambassador of the European Union in Rabat.
„A Commemorative Action of solidarity took place with the families of the disappeared in Laayoune, Western Sahara, with the participation of the Presidents of Sub-Saharan Communities on 5th February 2023.“
„On 6th February, for the first time, a CommemorAction event took place in Tripoli, Lebanon. Survivors, family members, activists and human rights defenders came together for a symbolic gesture at Tripoli harbour to commemorate the 182 persons who disappeared or died in 2022 while trying to flee the country’s crises in boats towards Europe. After the ceremony, a press-conference took place with the survivors, families, their lawyers and different activist groups who support the process of accountability and justice regarding the horrible shipwrecks of the last year.“
CommemorActions on 6th of February 2023 took place in:
Cameroon: Douala; Morocco: Layounne, Oujda, Rabat, Tanger; Mauretania: Nouadhibou; Niger: Agadez; Senegal: Dakar; Togo: Sokode; Tunisia: Tunis, Zarzis; Austria: Vienna; France: Brest, Briançon, Calais, Douarnenez, Lannion, Lyon-sur-mer, Marseille, Nantes, Paris, Redon, Renne, Toulouse; Germany: Berlin, Erfurt, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Magdeburg; Greece: Athens; Italia: Messina, Milano, Prato, Lampedusa; Malta; Netherlands: Nijmegen; Spain: Ceuta, Asturias, Barcelona, Bilbao, Irún-Behobia; Switzerland: Zurich.
Article published in Echoes#5