7-12 October 2023
Maldusa invited about 60 activists from various solidarity projects in the Mediterranean Sea and beyond. On the one hand, the network internal meeting intended to further consolidate the cooperation and practices between actors at sea and on land that had been developing in recent years.
On the other hand, several public events and a commemorative action were planned to address the local population and as well as the many workers and tourists on the island, and to strengthen the impressive practices that took place on the island a few weeks ago: solidarity with the “People on the Move“ who disembark in Lampedusa.
Maldusa camp in Lampedusa, October 2023, Credit: Maldusa
The first internal workshop on „Solidarity at sea“ focused on the contested spaces in the Mediterranean Sea, in Europe and North Africa: we discussed the new waves of racism and escalating border violence, as well as how, in 2023, migrant communities and networks have been asserting themselves in face of obstacles and hostility. A key question, related to our daily struggle, was also how to intensify the operational collaborations at sea amongst the civil fleet around Lampedusa.
In the following session on “Solidarity on land,” various infrastructures for freedom of movement presented their struggles, and exchanged on how we can learn from each other’s tools and strategies, on how to improve our communication, and on how to better involve migrant communities and people on the move.
An analysis of the growing camp/hotspot and detention system in southern Italy has been the main topic of another round of exchange, followed by a workshop where the need of continuous monitoring in Sicily was discussed – mainly in order to amplify the protests of people detained.
What are adequate tools for organizing CommemorActions? How to give more visibility – without creating spectacles – to the victims of the border regime? What are the challenges of the transnational network of families and survivors? Along these questions two parallel workshops took place, one dedicated to the preparation of the 11.10.2013 commemorAction in Lampedusa.
Several participants of the camp are involved in research of missing people and in projects for the identification of bodies, with the aim to develop a more dignified and accessible approach towards families and communities of the missing. In a rich exchange on practices and demands in various contexts, an appointment was made for a common mapping to foster future collaborations.
On the final day, in a workshop on criminalization participants reported about their experiences of imprisonment for boat-driving, and about solidarity campaigns against the criminalization of facilitation in various countries. Over the past years the network has grown on a transnational level, with practices of mutual support and mutual learning, and the impact of both political changes and of our strategies of resistance – both at the practical and discursive level – was evaluated.
Strategic litigation was the topic of a last workshop, in which examples of successful legal struggles were shared, combined with a discussion on what kind of interventions would help to block border violence and what would bring at least a bit of justice for victims, survivors and relatives.
Maldusa camp in Lampedusa, October 2023, Credit: Maldusa
During the first public event, in front of the association “Archivio Storico di Lampedusa”, we all sat on and around the impressive patchwork carpet of Yusuf. Local actors presented the initiative they founded in 2020, after the death of a 5 year old boy during a terrible shipwreck of a boat that had departed from Libya, and developed in close cooperation with his mother, who survived the shipwreck and buried the child in the Lampedusa cemetery.
Members of the local Forum Solidale di Lampedusa in solidarity with refugees and migrants explained their approach when meeting people arriving at the pier: “We were the ones with nothing on our faces. Without masks, without uniforms, nothing on our faces, just our smile… People meeting people. We wanted to do something to keep dignity and humanity. Because the dehumanization of migrant people is the first thing that happens when they disembark at the dock.”
In the second public event, guests from Alarm Phone Sahara and from Refugees in Libya presented their self-organized struggles on the background of the brutal consequences of EU border externalization in North and West Africa. In Niger, the project was established in 2017 with a hotline and whistleblowers along the desert routes to support people who try to cross to the North, or who have been deported back to South. In Libya, a cycle of powerful protests in front of the UNHCR office in Tripoli started in October 2021, and it currently continues in Europe with the key demand of evacuations.
In 2023, Tunisia has been a central place for departures to Europe and to Lampedusa and, for this reason, most of the information that circulates about Tunisia are in relation to borders and border control. With activists from Tunisia we tried to have a deeper picture of the country’s latest political development, the structural economic problems linked to imperialist powers and the rise of racist violence. We had the opportunity to speak about the important mobilizations of Zarzis 18/18 that is still asking for truth and justice and a photo exposition of these protests was available in PIazza Castello. An important space has been dedicated to the racist speech that the Tunisian president made at the end of February and its devastating consequences in terms of segregation, precarization and violence. We stand with the latest words that closed the event: “We lived under the era of Ben Ali and we know, now, how important is freedom.”
Maldusa camp in Lampedusa, Commemoraction, October 2023, Credit: Maldusa
In the evening of 11.10. 2023, more than 130 people – locals, tourists, transnational activists – followed our invitation and participated in the Commemoration for the victims of the horrible shipwreck that took place off Lampedusa exactly ten years ago. It was an impressive and intense CommemorAction, where we shared tears and anger as well as hope for a world where death at the border belongs to the past.
Find the extra report with pictures here: https://www.maldusa.org/l/lampedusa-commemoraction-11-october-2013-2023/