On the night of 11 November on the eve of the International Conference on Libya, the group of artists known as Stalker / Noantri Planetary Citizens arrived in Palermo, Sicily, with ten maritime rescue ladders, originally made in 2004 with the Pakistani crew of a ship impounded in the port of Naples, and restored over three days in Riace with the help of the local population. The ladders symbolized the need to guarantee an escape route for the hundreds of thousands of migrants trapped in Libya and at risk of slavery, torture and extortion, a situation described in “Exodus: Escape from Libya”, a radio-documentary with the voices of migrants gathered following long and dangerous investigative work by the documentary-maker / activist Michelangelo Severgnini.
With Stalker, we wove a network of relationships with the city, from the autonomous social centers that protested in Piazza Rivoluzione to the city’s Councilor for Culture, Andrea Cusumano, and Mayor Leoluca Orlando, to complete together with Michelangelo Severgnini on 12 November the large install/action “Palermo shouts!” in the magnificent church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo.
Leoluca Orlando immediately responded to the desperate appeal of the migrant-slaves in Libya, who demand immediate evacuation from Libya, by participating actively in the inauguration of the artistic action and speaking by telephone with one of trapped migrants. He heard the voices of migrant-slaves in Libya, not only those locked up in prisons and subject to torture and extortion of ransom money from their families, but also those who represent the overwhelming majority of migrants who, although not imprisoned, live semi-clandestinely or in slavery, subjected to violent forced labor and unpaid labor. From the Spasimo of Palermo, the voice of the migrants in Libya burst onto the Italian political scene, making them finally a political subject and not just the object of policies to address the “immigration emergency”.
Policies on migration and migrants are today at the center of the political agenda in Italy and in Europe. The left, through former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and former minister Marco Minniti supported the approach of “Let’s help them at their home!” The ultra-right of Matteo Salvini seized on this opportunity, aiming at the same objective, but in its own way. Today we must accept the defeat of not having been able to forge a real European integration policy, and to have betrayed the dreams and hopes of 700,000 people trapped in Libya, of all ages and of all sexes, who no longer want to come to Europe and cannot wait to return home. The only chance we have to repair this dramatic situation is, therefore, to help them go back.
Could DiEM25 support the repatriation of migrants?
Repatriation achieves two results at the same time: defusing the fear of “invasion from Africa” in Europe; and ending any possibility of Libya being considered as a safe haven. It is the migrants themselves who tell us so, in their own words. This solution could be strategic in solving the various issues posed by the dramatic reality of migrants in Libya.
“Palermo shouts!” was realized thanks to the City of Palermo: Mayor Leoluca Orlando and the Councilor for Culture Andrea Cusumano, Macro Asylum, Fondazione Orestiadi of Gibellina and European Alternatives.
Stalker/Noantri Planetary Citizens: Lorenzo Romito (coordination), Lorenzo Bottiglieri, Valeria Cademartori, Paola Festari, Morteza Kaleghi and Mohammad Khavari, Filippo Tantillo, Graeme Thomas, Elisa Vaccaro.
Gaetano La Rosa and Flore Murard-Yovanovitch, coordination of Palermo.
Gaetano La Rosa
Sicily Regional Coordinator DiEM25
Video_Palermo_Complesso monumentale di Santa Maria dello Spasimo
“Palermo shouts!” – Mayor Orlando speaks by phone with migrant-slaves in Libya
Video_Palermo_Noviziato dei Crociferi
Padre Alex Zanotelli, Mayor Leoluca Orlando and Michelangelo Severgnini speak directly with migrant-slaves trapped in Libya.
The ladders used in the install/action “Palermo shouts!” were made as part of the Stalker/Osservatorio Nomade project “La nave va…” (https://youtu.be/XoBynG0sGU4)
EXODUS: Escape from Libya by Michelangelo Severgnini and Piero Messina
Exodus: a migrant leaves Libya for his home country (video WhatsApp)
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