Revolt in Lampedusa: CIE in flames
Posted by clandestina on 21 September 2011
The elderly lock themselves in the house, the kids put a handkerchief to their mouth while the column of smoke blown by the mistral invades. Smell of plastic, scrap metal, burnt rubber. “A toxic cloud – dare someone – who knows how much crap we are breathing.” The sky turns from blue to gray, the airport closes, the police are unleashed to to look for hundreds of escaped Tunisians. And Lampedusa falls again in the worst of nightmares, with two of the three warehouses in the centre of the district Imbriacola incinerated by the fire lit by a group of migrants exasperated by confinement and deportation. The anger, the fear of invasion, the memories of the old fire in February 2009 come back. Mayor Dino De Rubeis abandon all restraint and talks about war: “There is a population that cannot bear any longer, that wants to take to the streets with batons – he says – who should protect us has not done so. What we expected , unheeded by the national government, has happened, with 1,500 immigrants who have proved to be people of ill repute. ” The deputy mayor Angela Maraventano, senator of the Northern League, shoots even bigger, “Tunis should compensate us and welcome them in the country’s prisons.”
Someone takes them to the letter, like the old man who observes the column of smoke: “I live with my wife and we are afraid – he says – the police and carabinieri should allow us to arm ourselves. They should give us a machine gun. I do not want to use it, just to scare them. ” Many other inhabitants of Lampedusa, however, are in the old port talking to the Tunisians, while the rumor – unfounded – of five dead spreads. “In reality – explains the head of the clinic Pietro Di Bartolo – there are only a dozen intoxicated, none seriously.”
It was nearly 1,300, in the center, including four families with six small children. And the tension had been sky high for days, with migrants locked in increasingly crowded large rooms, terrified by the returns. “I arrived three days ago – said Mohammed, 27, a receptionist at a hotel in Susa remained unemployed – I only know that there were a lot of people complained about the food, really bad, always the same.” Only a fragment of a composite mosaic, the gust of a storm announced for weeks. Since when – suspended the landings of sub-Saharan migrants from Libya swept by civil war – the Tunisians have started arrving again, the front the Italian government had declared closed. “Economic migrants”, as they say in the jargon of the bureaucracy, that is, those who leave, not because they are persecuted, but to improve their conditions of life, aspiration not contemplated by Italy, who sends them back home.
First some DIY landings , small inflatable boats with 6- 8 people, then more and more massive arrivals. The problem is that Tunisia takes them back very slowly (the agreement to return thirty per day has just been brought to a hundred) and deportation centers are packed, filled to the brim also because of the lengthening of time of permanence to eighteen months. So, once again, Lampedusa is a funnel with the exit hole closed. Contrada Imbriacola was certinly a powder keg. The other day a group of boys had managed to get out for a morning swim, and was recaptured in a hurry, because the categorical imperative is that the tourists must never come across a migrant.
“The other day – people say here on the pier – fifty Tunisians were shipped off to Tunis and then back, because it had arrived the ‘no’ to the repatriation.” Problems superated, according to the Interior Ministry, who attributes the revolt to the speed of tranfers and ensures that they will go forward with two flights a day. The prosecutor of Agrigento have opened an inquest against unknown persons , while the prefecture have been racking their brains until late evening to find a place for the Tunisians. At the end, one hundred were taken away in a military flight, three hundred were camping in the one building left standing in the burnt down centre, three hundred other lie down on the pier and the same number in the stadium. “In the end – says Paolo La Rosa, owner of a bed and breakfast – the people of Lampedusa and the Tunisians are the same, both abandoned.”