LasciateCIEntrare Vulpitta – the migrant voices from behind the bars

This is a conversation between migrants locked up in Serraino Vulpitta,
the Immigration Detention Centre (CIE) in Trapani,
and activists of the LasciateCIEntrare campaign, 23rd April 2012

The migrant voices: -Sorry, but who are you?

Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo: -Journalists, lawyers, activists…

M. V.: -You have to do something because it is not possible to live here…
they treat us like

-We have no rights here!

F. Vassallo Paleologo: – We asked if we could enter, but they won’t
let us…

M. V.: -Haven’t the laws regarding journalists entering CIEs changed? So
how come this is like a prison?

F. Vassallo Paleologo:
-The Prefect decides….

M. V.: -All of us have been in Italy for 10 years and now we find
ourselves mistreated in this way…
-We’ve got no covers, it’s cold at night…

-The showers have no doors…
-It’s really disgusting…

-There’s no hot water-please!

-We never get to see a lawyer, never…

-We have been in other reception centres, but it wasn’t like this there.
We had a minimum of freedom. There’s no air here….we walk along the

F. Vassallo Paleologo: -How
many of you are there?

M. V. : -More than 60 people, eight in a room.

F. Vassallo Paleologo: -But lawyers come to see you?

M. V.: -Yes, yes there are lawyers, yes, but…

F. Vassallo Paleologo: -How long have you been here?

M. V.: -6 months, 8 months, 8½ months

F. Vassallo Paleologo:
-Is there anyone here who was sent from Milo?

M. V.: -Yes, he spent 6 months there and now 2 months here

F. Vassallo Paleologo: -Have you had the validation of the judge?

M. V.: -We’ve never seen a judge…

-Journalists, can I say something? For more than a week now, there has
been a spate of attempted hangings and incidents of self- harm: one guy opened
his stomach, another slit his wrists…People are dying, dying. They don’t help
us…they offer no kind of help at all. We are dying of hunger, dying of
depression because we have been here for 6 months, 8 months closed inside
without being given any kind of information. Lawyers never come because they stay with the management…they never
call to see us, nothing works. We can write all these things down- I’ll be the
first to sign, to put my name down.
-Yes, yes we want to report this Centre, we want to report those in
charge of this Centre. We want our voices to be heard.

-It’s shameful! It’s

-It shouldn’t be allowed in Italy…
-Nobody says anything to us. There’s no information….

-Do something for these people…I’m not Italian but I feel the shame of
this country which deserves something different, something better, something
better than what we are seeing. This is an Italy,
a Europe that doesn’t work, something has to
be done!

F. Vassallo Paleologo:
-Can you please tell me where you are from?

M. V.: -Tunisia, Marocco, Ghana,

F. Vassallo Paleologo: -Why don’t you report everything to your

M. V.: -The lawyers come here to eat. They are on the same side as the
management. They don’t help us. All of us have a
lawyer, but none of us can pay them….

-I’ve been here for 8 months….we came here to Italy, we are poor
foreigners…we receive nothing….8 months here, a year and a half, living
through this torture….hunger strikes….

F. Vassallo Paleologo: -The only thing I can say is that we will come

M. V.: -They open our letters, they take away our phones. The lawyers
are on their side, they don’t help us…

F. Vassallo Paleologo: -Validation with the judge has to be carried
out every two months….

M. V. : -We’ve never seen anyone here…from the day we arrive, we are
abandoned, we’ve no idea how long we have to stay here- 6 months, 8 months, a
year and a half. We just don’t know. Nobody tells us anything.

F. Vassallo Paleologo:
-The law states
that every two months there is the validation in front of

the judge…

M. V. : -We haven’t seen a judge. In Milan-
yes, in Turin- yes….lawyers and judges…but
in Trapani-
nothing. It’s only this Centre that we want to report, there are people who have been in Bari, Turin, Rome but they didn’t complain…
-There’s no air, today for example- no one is allowed to go
outside…normally 6 or 7 people are allowed outside for 40 minutes…

-I feel like I have been kidnapped by the Italian State,
which doesn’t work properly- it’s shameful, I’ll say it again. I feel an
immense shame…I know that the ongoing crisis makes immigration even more
difficult, but these laws are going to resolve absolutely nothing. It’s really,
really wrong.

A. Genovese:
-Are there minors inside?

M. V.: -Yes, there are people who say they are minors and have asked to
see a lawyer, but they always say, “later, later”…and this will go
on until they are 20 years old…There’s a 17 year old Algerian. They are
making fun of us, you know why…they don’t want to give permits of stay to

Interview recorded by Eleanor Mortimer