26 September 2011

The straps

Photo by Danila D’Amico damico_photo@libero.it, if you can’t see the gallery click here

Tied like chickens. How many times had we been told of this from the identification and expulsion centres (CIEs) in Italy. We didn’t think it happened on the floating CIEs as well. But here's proof of the opposite. The images were taken at 3 pm of Saturday in the port of Palermo by the photojournalist Danila D'Amico. They show the young Tunisians with their wrists tied with plastic straps, after being loaded onto the buses that in all likelihood were taking them to the Palermo airport for deportation. In another picture a policeman is clutching a bouquet of black straps. Because it’s procedure to tie everyone up. The reason is simple: their imprisonment is illegal and the police are not authorised to use handcuffs, so the quickest way is to use an electrician’s tie-wraps.

And once again it’s surprising - but perhaps only for ingenuity- how the police authorities bend the rules to serve illegality. The ships in fact are not places legally useable for detention. And the 340 Tunisians on board the two floating CIEs left in Palermo have been deprived of their personal liberty for weeks, without ever having met a lawyer nor having been brought before a justice of the peace for the validation of their detention. Among them, allegedly, are also minors. In Italian we say "kidnapping by the State." Yet everything seems to be fine this way. ' Even for the regional member of the Democratic Party Tonino Russo, who praised the treatment of prisoners on board after visiting the two floating CIEs. And to think that once there was the Constitution and the inviolability personal freedom. But maybe now all you need is a chicken sandwich and a reclining chair to declare to the press that the conditions are ‘decent’.

Once again, we are the gray area. But fortunately not everyone thinks like Russo. Also because Palermo is not an island. And in the city there is still small degree of resistance to certain repressive and illegal practices. Yesterday at 5pm the first protest camp took place and today at the same time and anoter demonstration is due to take place in front of the port of Palermo. You can find more information on the facebook page of Palermo’s anti-racism forum. It’s the only way to respond to those signs hung by the detainees in the windows of the two CIE ships, with the writing 'Freedom' ".

Ps Today two more planes took off from Palermo heading to Tunis, one an Air Mistral flight and the other of Small Planet, which repatriated a total of 100 of the 340 young Tunisian prisoners on the ships in the port. A sign that the machine of expulsion is operating at full strenght.

translated by Camilla Gamba