“Borderline Sicilia Onlus” wins the 2014 Alexander Langer Prize

The Langer Foundation’s
Scientific Committee has deliberated to award the 2014 International Alexander
Langer Prize to the nonprofit association “Borderline Sicilia Onlus”. The ceremony
will take place during the traditional “Euromediterranea” convention in
Bolzano, July 3-5.

Borderline Sicilia would like to thank the
Langer Foundation for this important award: it strengthens our resolution to
work for the protection of human rights, and to monitor Sicily’s current
immigration issues, in hope of becoming the bearers of those very principles
Alexander Langer embodied.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all voluntary
workers, professionals, operators, and associations, who, over the past few
years, have offered their precious contribution to the creation of a migration
observatory for Sicily.

Press release from the Foundation

The Langer Foundation’s Scientific
Committee has decided to award the 2014 International Alexander Langer Prize to
the nonprofit association “Borderline Sicilia Onlus”. The ceremony will be held
in Bolzano on July 4 2014, during the traditional “Euromediterranea” convention
that will take place on July 3-5.

Alexander Langer – Euromediterranean

“We believe it is time to undertake the
construction of a new Euromediterranean brotherhood from a grassroots perspective,
and to actively and critically follow the process through all the way up to the
institutional and governmental level… Yet if we truly wish to give new life to
the communal heritage shared by Mediterranean communities, peoples, citizens,
ecosystems, economies and societies, and if we wish to encompass them within
that greater integration process which is bringing closer Eastern and Western
Europe – albeit with difficulty – then we must develop a new sensitivity, and
grasp at the many occasions for action and inter-action.” (Alexander Langer,
May 1995)


Borderline Sicilia Onlus (BS) was founded
by a German political scientist relocated to Palermo, two young Sicilian
attorneys, and two German film directors, as a reaction to a tragic event which
they all had witnessed: the death by drowning of 17 young Egyptians and
Palestinians, off the coast of Vendicari (Syracuse), on the night of October 28
2007. The victims had been buried quickly and without identification, and after
that soon forgotten.

This tragedy at sea convinced Judith
Gleitze, Paola Ottaviano, Germana Graceffo, Roman Herzog, and Heike Brunkhorst
of the necessity to create a structure that would guarantee continuous and systematic initiatives of
active remembrance. In the wake of “Borderline Europe” ’s considerable field
experience, they started a difficult investigation on the identity of the
victims, in order to find family and friends back in their native countries.
Finally, in October 2008, an event was held with the local population on the
town’s shores, as a way to share memories and grief.

This first memorial day was followed in
2009 by a theatre play, “Europe Kills”, which reenacted five court cases
related to shipwrecks that had occurred across the Mediterranean between 2002
and 2009. Four of such cases saw fishermen or ship crews charged with aiding
and abetting, as they had rescued migrants from drowning.

In the same year, BS registers to the
Register Office for Non-Profit Organisations, and to the Italian National
Office Against Racial Discrimination (UNAR). In 2010, a tombstone sculpture is
finally arranged on the cliff of the shipwreck, a token to remember both this
tragedy and the countless victims of the Mediterranean.

Over the years, BS has systematically
engaged itself in monitoring activities, advocacy, and awareness-raising
campaigns on the protection of the rights of migrants and refugees. It has
furthermore acquired international recognition, becoming an important reference
point abroad – in particular through the
blog “siciliamigrants” – in terms of the access to primary sources concerning
cases of racism and discrimination against migrants in Sicily.


Active listening, legal support and

“I have experienced first-hand how vital
it is to have an organic protocol regarding asylum matters which is able, among
other things, to create an efficient
reception system offering fair conditions to migrants. I believe it is
particularly in the latter’s regard that our work is most important, in several
ways. Ranging from simply listening to them, which, beyond any rhetoric, is of
considerable meaning (especially for asylum seekers who are kept in/confined to
reception/detention centres removed from human settlements), to offering legal
support , especially in cases of particular relevance, with the potential to
create new jurisprudence.

The publication on the blog “siciliamigranti”
of reports on the practices adopted by institutional and private actors concerning
the arrival, residency, reception and detention of migrants, and their access
to local services, as well as reports on any event related to the issue of
migration to Sicily, represents a further crucial aspect of BS’ work: a free
and independent press.” Elio Tozzi

Anti-discrimination, research and
mediation between actors

“I have been collaborating with Borderline
Sicilia for years, so as to contrast those racist discriminatory “maneuvers”
coming from institutions and so on. […] . Our presence on the territory is of
paramount importance, as it allows us to examine all those emergency situations
related to the presence of slums across Sicily, in particular during the
harvest of grapes, tomatoes, and olives. In the area of Palermo, on the other
hand, our difficult task is to bridge together the different urban realities;
yet, thanks to our constant and incessant work, we are now recognized as a
reliable association. This is extremely beneficial, because the upcoming
opening of several SPRAR centres (Protection System for Asylum Seekers and
Refugees) in Palermo necessitates an effective mediation work, which ought to
favour a fair interaction between all interested parties.” Alberto Biondo

Monitoring and diffusion of good reception
practices, and networking

“Through its monitoring, BS keeps constant
watch on the different forms of reception (reception centres, migrant
accommodation centres, sorting centres, refugee camps). The diffusion of
information from an independent perspective makes the blog an important
reference point for a high number of media professionals, both Italian and
non-Italian. Thanks to our mobility and capillarity across Sicily, we can
spread good practices in terms of integrated reception, as well as favour the
implementation of our network at a regional level, therefore fostering a mutual
comprehension of all the realities we come into contact with.” Giovanna Vaccaro


Over the years, BS has developed two
distinctive traits: the first one is the promotion of analyses and inquiries
conducted on the field by a capillary web of organisations which are made of
volunteers engaged in the themes of reception and antiracism. This work is
visible on the blog “siciliamigranti”, which is translated into English and
German on a voluntary basis; the blog has become a crucial reference point for
citizens and professionals dealing with the elaboration of alternative
proposals to traditional reception systems. In addition to a constant presence of
operators on the territory, based on the “research-action” method, and
regulated by a handbook that guarantees the comparability and thoroughness of
information, the second distinctive trait is the attempt to interact with every
institutional level that envisages complexities and subalternities, without
prejudices: we are convinced that the rules of coexistence must be respected,
yet we are also convinced that citizens are entitled to know such rules,
discuss them in public, and participate in their revision as well.

With such sentiment, the Foundation’s
Scientific Committee has decided to award the next 2014 International Alexander
Langer Prize to the nonprofit association “Borderline Sicilia Onlus”, during the
traditional “Euromediterranea” convention that will take place in Bolzano on
July 3-5. Space will be given to tales and personal accounts, to the exchange
of information and good practices between bearers of local, national and international
experiences, both on the NGO and institutional levels. The focus shall be on
proposals for the reform of asylum rights in the Italian and European
legislations: a number of organisations have already begun this process on
February 1 2014 by drafting together the “Chart of Lampedusa”, to which the
Alexander Langer Foundation too has subscribed. The different aspects that characterize
the path of those who seek a new place to live will be discussed in detail,
ranging from an often tragic journey from native countries to the borders of
Europe, to being first received and waiting to be regularized, to being fully
accepted, with the aim of transforming these steps into occasions for dialogue
and interaction, rather than rejection.


Borderline Sicilia Onlus
Via Ritiro n. 24 – 97015 Modica (RG), Italy
Tel. 0039 340 9802196
Email: borderline-sicilia@libero.it
cf. 90021510889

Operational offices:

Via V. Emanuele n. 35 – Palermo
Via del Bosco n. 58 – Catania

Registered to the Register Office for
Non-Profit Organisations (October 20 2009), and to the Italian National Office
Against Racial Discrimination (UNAR).


www.siciliamigranti.blogspot.com (Italian
www.migrantsicily.blogspot.com (English version)
www.siciliamigrants.blogspot.com (German version)
borderline-europe: http://www.borderline-europe.de/

The Borderline Sicilia network

The association collaborates with an
external team of migration specialists, such as Prof. Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo
from the University of Palermo, the journalist-author Gabriele Del Grande,
Prof. Emilio Santoro from the University of Florence, Leonardo Marino esq. from
the Tribunal of Agrigento, Filippo Finocchiaro esq. from the Tribunal of
Catania, freelance journalist Alessio Genovese, historian Dr. Valentina Greco
from the University of Bologna, journalist Antonio Mazzeo from Messina,
ethno-sociologist Roberta Di Rosa from the University of Palermo.

The lobbying, monitoring, and advocacy
activities across Sicily are mainly grounded in the network Borderline Sicilia
Onlus has built over the years between local organisations working in the field
of migration and antiracism: Palermo’s Antiracist Forum, the Sicilian branch of
the Italian Association of Legal Studies on Migration (ASGI), Catania’s
Antiracist Network, Caltanissetta’s Antiracist Network, Agrigento’s Caritas,
Lampedusa’s “Askavusa” Association, Modica’s Association “The Clandestine”,
Ragusa’s Association “Libera” Association, Trapani’s Peace Coordination

The Sicilian network is supported by
volunteers from the rest of Italy and Europe, principally during the summer or
public holidays, who come to Sicily for a certain period of time in order to
study, research on, or out of interest in, the topic itself.

For further information:

Alexander Langer Stiftung Foundation
Monika Weissensteiner
Euromediterranea 2014
Tel: 0471 977691 – cell. 331-911-0393
E-mail: monika@alexanderlanger.net

The Alexander Langer Stiftung Foundation

The Alexander Langer Stiftung Foundation
was created in 1997 in honour of Alexander Langer, politician and journalist
from South Tyrol, whose intuition on the pacific coexistence between different
ethnic groups, and on the coexistence between mankind and the environment, was
directed in equal measure towards life in South Tyrol, Italy, Europe, and the
world. Through its own initiatives, and by supporting those of others, the
Foundation aims at developing and promoting the themes which Alexander Langer fought
for, in order to live in a world of peace and of harmony with nature. Further
information on the Foundation and its activities can be found on www.alexanderlanger.org

The International Alexander Langer Prize

Since 1997, with the financial support in
the past years of Bolzano’s Cassa di Risparmio Foundation, the Alexander Langer
Stiftung Foundation has awarded an annual prize of 10.000€ to individuals or
organizations that have greatly distinguished themselves in the protection of
human and minority rights, of the environment, and in the diffusion of new
lifestyles aiming at peace and at creative, peaceful resolutions to conflicts.

The Foundation’s Scientific and Guarantee
Committee Members are:

Fabio Levi (President), Bettina Foa (Coordinator) Anna Maria
Gentili, Andrea Lollini, Anna Bravo, Maria Bacchi, Francesco Palermo, Gianni
Tamino, Christoph Baker, Massimo Luciani, Grazia Barbiero, Karin Abram, Paolo
Bergamaschi, Mao Valpiana, Margit Pieber, Marianella Sclavi, Marijana Grandits,
Pinuccia Montanari, Roberto De Bernardis..

Further information can be found on http://www.alexanderlanger.org/it/2

Translation: Angela Paradiso