25 September 2011

Italy: floating CIEs

Video by Enrico Montalbano

After the tent cities, the ships. When it comes to repression and illegal detention, the imagination of the Italian Interior Minister knows no limits. Today we show you the pictures that Enrico Montalbano took in front of the port of Palermo. You can see one of the ships of the Italian ferry company Moby. Look closely because many of you will recognize it. I personally took it twice to get to the island of Elba. Today it is a prison. Used - think of the paradox - to detain travellers. For the past three days it’s been used as a centre for identification and expulsion. In a completely illegal manner. Inside hundreds of young people are locked up. Deprived of their liberty for weeks, without validation of the court, therefore in a totally illegal and unconstitutional fashion, to top it off.

They are accused of having burned the border, or of having travelled without a passport. There are about 600 people. The same people who on September 21 set fire to the reception centre in Lampedusa in protest. Joining them in the last hours were the 98 Tunisians that landed in Linosa and the 75 that two days ago were diverted to Porto Empedocles, Agrigento, instead of landing in Lampedusa. Some of them are injured, because during the transfer they smashed the windows of the bus to cut their wrists in protest against their deportation. Because that seems to be their fate.

The Interior Minister announced that last week alone 604 Tunisians were repatriated. This is the new agreement with the transitional government of Tunis. Two flights per day for 100 people. The last left yesterday morning from the Palermo airport. A 747 of the Dubrovnik Air fleet. At this rate, within ten days all of them could be deported without having had the opportunity to appoint a lawyer or to see a justice of the peace. Therefore in a complete and efficient police state. Standing in the way of the minister’s plans could only be intense protests or foreseeable escape attempts. But to minimize the risk of yet another uprising after the burning of Lampedusa, the Interior Minister gave order to begin sorting inmates in small groups throughout the various CIEs in Italy.

The first transfers began yesterday. Vincent, a Moby vessel, left the port of Palermo and is moored in Cagliari, where 221 inmates were taken to the shelter of Elmas, which effectively serves as a detention center, this one also unlawful. Two other planes instead departed from Palermo in the direction of Brindisi and Rome. The Tunisians who were on board the flights will be routed between the CIE of Ponte Galeria in Rome and the CIEs of Puglia in Bari and Brindisi, where a few days ago large-scale escape was recorded in which more than 60 inmates succeeded in escaping back to freedom precisely from the CIE of Restinco, Brindisi. On the two ships left in the port of Palermo at the moment are 340 prisoners.

translated by Camilla Gamba