Do Not Lose Hope and the Strength to Always Be There

2016 has ended, and rereading some of the reports from the year just passed, the title of the last report from 2015 stands out: “Thankfully, 2015 Is Over”.
We cannot reprise the title while just changing the days, because 2016 has been even more deadly, and the dynamics still more repetitive, and have even become more violent than 2015. The numbers of daily massacres are terrifying, the official data speaking of more than 5,000 dead. People have never been killed in sea like this year, and these numbers do not do justice to all those who have died before and after the crossing.
These are the numbers of poor people who we know for certain have found no peace, and what do our politicians do?
The racist turn has not let up, not even in the face of the death of children, nor in the face of the countless invisible people created by the policies of closing Europe.
Never before have we raised up walls like this year, not even in world wars did our world see a closure of this kind, never so much war, never so much destruction, never so much desire for hegemony, thirst for power, never so much egoism.

If we hope that the ruling class might decide to do otherwise than that which they have up till now, we are poor fools. For this reason we must not lose hope, and find the forces to remain attentive to the needs of others, those who have been exploited, humiliated and killed every day by weapons, walls, politics, by the desire to conquer the entire world while deciding who is and isn’t worthy, who to keep alive and who to sacrifice to the god called power.

2016 leaves us with a huge void, bitterness and anger which we must transform into positive action, in order to create the bases to work for a more just world, a world in which everyone has the right to choose their own future, one which would seem utopian today but one which so many of us want. This is why we must not lose hope, why we must not resign ourselves to the ferocity of everyday politics.

It is a politics which is no longer just, and ought not be copied, a politics which does not aim for the common good and therefore cannot be welcomed by people who want to break down walls and borders.

We do not expect an easy 2017, which you can see from the recent gestures by the Minister of the Interior, Minniti, and by the Chief of Police, Gabrielli, who waited for the final day of 2016 to send round a circular declaring that they will be opening many new detention centres (CIE*, at least one for each region) in order to make special checks, to identify and expel those who have no right to stay in Italy.

This inhumane communication came out on the last day of the year, almost in confirmation of a horrendous year for human rights. What awaits is thus not a year in which we want to change tack, and for migrants it will be yet more difficult to find peace and freedom. The politics are clear, and everywhere are showing an inability to allow a different project. Politicians and the European ruling class have sold off a part of the world, sacrificing millions of human beings in the process. It is a politics which thinks about managing the reality of migration through the actions of police, through repression, violence, through murder on sea or instructed beyond our European borders.

They want to reopen the detention centres because Europe is always pushing harder, because the Hotspot system has yet again demonstrated its incompetency, its uselessness, because we have seen throughout 2016 so many people become invisible due to there never having been a real politics of integration, because no thought has been given to social cohesion, but instead simply of exclusion. We will recall 2016 for the Hotspots, entirely useless structures – yes, the Hotspots are useless, they have no function, the system has failed and can return to its former, rotten habits: close the migrants up in those racialised prisons which created so much death and violence before. Not only however, because 2016 will also be remembered for the atrocities suffered by children. It is enough just to look at the images on social media, but we can also recall all the minors who have ended up in the shadows, the extremely large number of people of whom no trace can be found in Italy, confirming the failure of this system as well as its inhumanity. This year has again been horrific for minors, who are always more abandoned by all the institutional agents, stuck away in overcrowded centres and unpaid by local councils, lacking legal guardians, stuck there for long periods of time, stuck in Extraordinary Reception Centres for adults throughout Italy, suffering endless abuse and violence, most of all psychologically.

We have no alternatives but to keep our eyes open, to recall the reasons for LIFE, to be able to understand each other and others. I am thinking of all those humanitarian organisations who lose themselves among so many projects, also loosing sight of the true desires held by people, migrants, the impoverished, instead playing inside a corrupt and violent political system.

2015 filled our reports with the words abuse, discrimination, unwelcoming, no rights, and 2016 even more. Thus we reiterate that we hope the winds will change, that good sense might return and that 2017 will be entirely different for our brothers and sisters searching for life and freedom. But we must somehow make this wind change, must never let anything break our concentration on another vision. As a good friend says, someone who nurtures the hope for change, remaining side by side migrants, someone who simply continues to struggle against a system which she cannot accept, because it runs contrary to life itself: “In everything I do, the people must come first before everything else, and I never want to break my concentration on them.”

That is our message for 2017, that we want to continue to hope!

Alberto Biondo
Borderline Sicilia

Project “OpenEurope” – Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline Sicilia Onlus
Translation by Richard Braude