After four intense days of meetings, debates and initiatives – in Bilbao, Valencia, northern Italy and Sicily – the European Caravan 2020, an initiative pushed by Caravana Abriendo Fronteras and Carovane Migranti, came to a close.
An event for denunciation, sensitisation and for the bearing of witness held from 26th-30th August at various European borders, both in person and virtually: from the Balkan route to the edges of the Mediterranean, from the port of Bilbao to that of Burriana, from Saluzzo to Campobello di Mazara, from Oulx and Briancon to factories of arms and war, from the detention and repatriation centre (CPR*) of Gradisca to the hotspot of Pozzallo. The aim of the European Caravan 2020 was to denounce the war on migrants, the violations of rights, the repression and exploitation of those who cross ever more militarised European borders.
Sicily, too, took part in the Caravan 2020, as a border island: the southern border of Europe.
In solidarity and as activists for the rights of migrants and against the militarisation of Sicily, we brought our bodies and our voices to the Sicilian border areas of exploitation and exclusion. In times of pandemic which “justify” and facilitate the violation of human rights, we bore witness to the rejections, the awful reception, and the discrimination. We discussed the racist and securitarian repression and militarisation of our land and ports, which coincide with systemic violence against those who cross the borders.
In line with European initiatives, we addressed the questions of right to asylum, of regularisation, of the safeguarding of health of people migrating in times of pandemic, of the criminalisation of those standing in solidarity and of NGO’s saving lives at sea with humanitarian ships, of the illegal recruitment and exploitation of labourers, and of those who disappeared, nameless, in the Mediterranean in the absence of safe and legal migration routes.
The Sicilian contribution was seen in a series of initiatives in symbolic locations: in a conference in Catania we denounced the politics of Frontex, the rejections and the violences financed by European governments in Libya and in the Mediterranean; in Pozzallo we denounced the hotspot system, told of the battles against militarisation in Sicily and against the MUOS*, and met with the mayor to emphasise the necessity of opening the port to a truly welcoming reception; in the ghetto of Campobello di Mazara we spoke of the exploitation of foreign labourers and celebrated the access to water in the migrant camps, thanks to the work of local associations. Furthermore, in these days we shared video contributions of the landings in Lampedusa, the ghetto of Cassibile, and the initiatives in Palermo for the regularisation of migrants.
We were able to connect with our friends of Carovane Migranti, engaged in important initiatives on the Italian-French border and on the Balkan route: a reality of active solidarity which does not give up to indifference and silence when facing the repressions experienced by migrants and which continues to tirelessly ask for truth and justice for the dead and disappeared, like a megaphone which amplifies the voices of those who fight violence on the borders of Europe and in the world.
Single voices became choruses of solidarity during the Caravan, voices which were united from north to south to demolish European walls: in Sicily, during the flashmob at the Frontex office in Catania, we demolished a cardboard wall representing the fortress of Europe precisely to symbolically reiterate our commitment against the limitations to freedom of movement which affect the migrant humankind.
Indeed, in Sicily as in Europe, faced by ever more securitarian approaches at the borders, our commitment remains clear: to claim back liberty of movement, create a truly welcoming reception and favour the opening of legal and safe routes which should stop the policies of death and allow self-determination of migrant people.
To carry forwards these commitments it is more important than ever to strengthen Euromediterranean solidarity, in part by participating in and sharing the project of the Caravan: through the broadness of the themes and fights which unite us at the Italian, north African, Spanish, French and Basque borders, we will continue to weave the transnational network of resistance.
This, to ensure that Sicily is a Caravan of rights and justice, an island which is open and supportive, an entry way of Europe which is welcoming for all.
Silvia Di Meo
*CPR: Centro di permanenza per il rimpatrio – Detention and repatriation center
*MUOS: Mobile User Objective System
Translated from Italian by Orsina Dessi