meanwhile in italy/sicily

06.Aug.05 - Over the last two weeks the anti-racism camp in Sicily has taken place. the activists have participated in a large number of actions across the island. The two weeks camp was meant to intervene concretely against the dispositives of migrant’s deportation and detention, and very good results were reached. Blockades of the buses transporting the migrants from Porto Empedocle (where they are taken after Lampedusa) to the detention centres in other part of Sicily were organized last week. The actions of last week delayed the departure of the buses and were meant to inform the migrants of their rights.

On Tuesday the 2nd almost 80 activists took part to a further blockade at Porto Empedocle. When the migrants arrived at the port the activists started to break off the fences surrounding the migrants’ path to the buses. The confrontation with the police continued while the migrants were on the buses. The activists surrounded the buses delaying their departure and, meanwhile, some of the migrants managed to smash the windows and to escape. 14 migrants were able to escape from the port and they are still free.

Other actions reached very good results: on Monday the 1st we took part in a presidium outside the detention centre of Ragusa. This is the only detention centre in Italy where only women are detained and they are transferred there from all over Italy. In the morning an official delegation entered the centre with a member of the parliament. Meanwhile, some of us were able to speak to the migrants through the fences and we find out that some of the detained were asylum seekers who had stayed there for more than 30 days (the maximum detention period for asylum seeker). At that point, realizing that the official delegation overlooked important circumstances such as the illegal detention of the migrants, the activists broke into the centre and invaded part of the court yard. The invasion lasted for many hours, supported also by the women detained who were protesting in the rest of the court yard. We obtained that a second delegation including 4 activists from the camp could inspect the centre. We were accompanied by another member of the Parliament (this is the only way in Italy to enter detention centres unless you do not brake into them) and we obtained assurance that the six asylum seekers would have been freed and that a woman in serious condition would have been taken to the hospital. The woman was taken to the hospital the following day. Today another delegation went back to Ragusa and obtained the release of the six asylum seekers which was made possible thanks to the activist mobilization.

Today the activist from the camp held another presidium and a press conference in Agrigento asking the authorities to clarify what happened to a boat which left Libya two days ago. 130 migrants were on the boat which disappeared. Street blockades were organized against the authorities decision to stop the searching to rescue the boat.

Last week other 40 migrants escaped from a building in Porto Empedocle where almost 200 of them had been temporarily placed before the identification procedures. Also in that occasion, a delegation of activists from the anti-racism camp was able to enter the building and inform the migrants about their rights and the consequences of the detention. After the escape, which was an autonomous initiative of the migrants, the local authorities did not allow the activists to enter again into the building.

Other initiatives were taken during the camp: a demonstration against the detention centre in Caltanisetta on Saturday 30th and one in Licata two days ago with the aim of rising awareness among the local population.

The camp in Sicily will end tomorrow with a demonstration in Messina.

Following the meeting which was held in Bari on July the 10th , mobilization and actions against detention centres are scheduled from September: - one decentralized day of action in September against detention centres and for the boycotting of the ngos and companies which run the centres. - Two demonstration in October to obstruct the opening of the detention centre in Bari and in Gradisca d’Isonzo (the exact date will be decide in a national meeting to be held September 4th) - A national demonstration in November against the Italian immigration law.

In Italy struggles against detention centres are rising at the moment. What happened in Sicily during the last weeks, with the facilitation of migrants’ escape and the released of other migrants, demonstrate that concrete results can be reached. The initiatives scheduled from September are meant to become a national agenda involving the migrants’ movement and the whole Italian social movements. It would be important that these struggles can have an European-wide echo.