20 September 2011

A video shows Gaddafi’s role in the landings in Lampedusa

And now we’ve got the pictures too. For months, we’ve been writing on this blog that Gaddafi’s militias were behind the crossings from Tripoli to Lampedusa and that the political responsibility of so many dead (at least 1,674 since the beginning of the year) was in fact the Colonel’s and his mad order to invade Italy with Africans in the hope that the xenophobic Italian government would withdraw its participation in the NATO military mission. After collecting the witness accounts of those who left with the help of the army and navy and those who were simply kidnapped and forced to embark, for the first time we can show you pictures of it all.

This is a video shot with a mobile phone by a Libyan man on the evening of April 28, who was close enough to the commercial port of Tripoli to become an inconvenient witness of yet another embarking operation turned to tragedy. It's dark when a few buses filled to the brim with Africans arrive at the port. There are whole families, men, women and children. They are quickly brought out by the militias and forced to climb onto an old fishing boat moored at the pier. But the passengers are too many and the boat too run down, so it sinks before sailing off, still in the harbour. Dozens of people die. Their bodies are fished out and taken away. The author of the video himself takes part in the rescue. And four months after the tragedy, he returns to the scene with some divers and a crew from Al Jazeera. In the seabed they find clothes, books, ID cards and shoes. The remains of those who fell in the water that evening.

A tragedy we knew nothing about until now, and which makes us think that the dead on the Libyan route since March are many more than the 1,674 we surveyed on the international press. But perhaps we will never know what the real figure is. What is certain is that it is finally over. For a while, no one will be forced to set off in those conditions. The regime has collapsed. And the few foreigners remaining in Tripoli are rubbing their hands waiting for the economy to start up again. Because everyone knows this in Tripoli. Not even a leaf moves without African workers.

translated by Camilla Gamba