19. Juli 2012 · Kommentare deaktiviert für B4p All reports Palermo-Tunis-Choucha-Monastir in English · Kategorien: Nicht zugeordnet · Tags: ,
Boats4People - Brief report from the Station in Palermo (5th and 6th of
July 2012)

In the morning of the 5h of July the B4P-boat Oloferne arrived in the port
of Palermo and was welcomed by a small group of activists. Then the

Oloferne was decorated with Boats4People-banners and used next day for a
press-conference, which was visited by several local TV-teams and
journalists, who published some fotos and interviews. At late afternoon
the announced central B4P-event started in a nice big yard of a
church-building, which is used by a lot of african migrants as meeting
point. More than 100 visitors followed the various reports and
- about local projects for integration (anti-discrimination) and medical
support of migrants;
- about the aims of the B4P-project;
- experiences from two migrants from Ghana and Nigeria, who came as
boatmigrants from Libya via Lampadusa to Italy;
- from a lawyer about refoulement and internment;
- from a young tunesian blogger about his project to support the relatives
of disappeared boatpeople;
- from a tunesian mother about her missing son;
- from an activist from Amsterdam about the campaign against Frontex.

In the yard some banners with the demand on freedom of movement had been
placed, exhibitions about Frontex, about the disappeared and about
flight-stories have been presented. The transnational composed
info-evening ended with a conncert and the call to participate in the
memorial for the victims of the EU-borderregime next evening on the
promenade of the sea.

At the next day (6th of July) a small delegation visited the
detention-camp near Trapani. Simultaneously a few workshops took place in
Palermo, one about the disappeared. Afterwards B4P-flyers have been
distributed in the inner city, which included again the invitation for the
memorial. The memorial took place at the promenade of the sea, where again
banners have been placed and a lot of candles have been used.
Simultaneously candle lights could be seen on two boats in the near sea.
Most attention was given to the 20 meter long banderole, which was rolled
out on the street and on which the dates, the names -- as far as known --
and also the circumstances of the death of more than 18.000 victims of the
EU-borderregime have been listed. Participants of the memorial read the
names of some of the victims, it was combined with a reading with a song
and a few spontaneous very impressive speeches of participating migrants
and also a migrant that happened to pass by, who shared a song he had
written after his severe boat journey to Italy.

Boats4People ferry Palermo-Tunis 7th of July

While the B4P-boat Oloferne still anchored in Palermo and later
wouldstart in direction of Monastir with 13 persons, the transnational
B4P-crowd, which increased on about 40 participants in the meanwhile,
checked in on the commercial ferries for the transfer to Tunis. One
part of activists had to book in a 2nd following ferry as the first
one was sold out, but on both ferries probably more than 90 % of
passengers have been tunesian migrants, who went from Italy or other
european countries to make holidays or to visit their families in
Tunesia. On this background both B4P-groups on both ferries met very
interesting people and stories during the 10-hours transfer as most of
the tunesians had a lot of migration-stories in their luggage...

Already before the start of the first ferry from Palermo a big banner
was put for short time on the roof railing, painted with the demands
„pour la liberte de circulation" and „no one is illegal". And on this
boat, where the bigger B4P-group with 35 people and italian as well as
arabic languages took action, it was possible to negotiate with the
crew of the ferry, that the B4P-materials could be disseminated
without problems and that an assembly could take place even with the
use of our transportable loudspeaker .

But first a lot of small interesting „table-talks" took place, finally
inviting everybody to an assembly near the bar. The interest to this
extraordinary asamblea was quiet good, in a fluctuating composition -
and including ourselves - between 60 and 100 persons took part all the

The presentation of B4P was made in italian and arabic, further
contributions in french with arabic translation. A lot of applause got
a contribution of our congolese comrade about the EU-migrationregime
„with privileges for a few, while the others are confronted with
increasing obstacles". His speech focussed on the migration from
african countries and the background of flight and migration. It ends
with the demand to support freedom of movement and the right to work
in the target countries.

A tunesian documentary-filmmaker, who was on tour in Italy with his
team to make a research about the situation of harragas and who was on
our ferry by accident, commentated this speech: „This system has to

One of our tunesian B4P-activists made a powerful speech about the
historical chance of the tunesian revolution and what it means for the
young generation. „30.000 tunesians left the country in direction to
Europe to find a better life. Not only tourists should be allowed to
see tunesia, vice versa the young tunesians as the driving force of
the revolution should have the opportunity to travel to Europe. A lot
of families lost their children and relatives...". Here too: many
participants agreed and gave applause. Finally: „We will fight against
the borders! Choucha (subsaharian refugees) and lampedusa (tunesians)
are the same struggles." Some more good and serious contributions
followed - a wonderful event!!

In the same time the smaller B4P-group on the 2nd ferry was confronted
with a deportation. In one of the rooms on deck and already one hour
before departure a tunesian was on his seathandscuffed and surrrounded
by 5 italian policemen in civil. As some of the other tunesians in the
same room we also led the affected person feel that we are on his
side. But in a short direct communication it came out, that he wanted
to avoid any conflict and later on we heared from another passenger
who could talk to the deportee in arabic, that he lived in Italy as Sans
papier for 15 years and that he probably will try to go back again after
deportation. And the tunesian travellers expressed their solidarity by
calling to Tunesia to inform his family and by giving him new shoes
and clothes before the boat arrived.

And we came into contact during this conflict to another tunesian from
Monastir, who came as harraga to Italy 9 years ago. All the time he
worked hard but only after paying 5000 Euro to an employer he could
receive a permanent labour contract, which made it possible for him
finally to get legalized. It was his first time now to travel back to
his family, his mother did not want believe and could not sleep since
a week because she was too excited... and we have invited him and he was
interested to join in our activities in Monastir.

As a grassroot-action and -communication in a best sense we want to
describe what happened at 7th of July on the ferries from Palermo to
Tunis. Its a place, which interconnects on a symbolic as well as on a
practical level the both worlds where migrants move in between. A
place and space of all possible and impossible experiences and stories
and thus of social knowledge, which much more often should find direct
impact in the political struggles against the borderregime. Insofar
the „B4P-station ferry" seems to us of particular importance.

Boats4People-Report from the Station in Tunis (8th until 10th of July

Sunday, 8th of July: pushback prevented and coordination-meetings

The day in the morning started with bad news: the entry of our young
senegalese comrade, who already participated in the westafrica-
caravan in 2011, was denied by the boderpolice of Tunis, when he
arrived at the airport coming from Dakar. He was suspected – as it is
the experience of many subsaharian travellers – to come to Tunesia
only in order to use it as a transit-station on his route to Europe.
Not the booking of his hotel and not the repeated hint to his
participation in the meeting of the world social forum could change
the position of authorities: our comrade should have been send back
in the same evening. He even was sitting in the airplane, when the
presence and protest of a group of B4P-activists inside the airport
and finally the direct handover of an official invitation to Monastir
by a unionist led to the last minute release of our senegelase
friend. He remained without his luggage, but he is part now of our
transnational B4P-crowd.
Our group was in Tunis now with about 50 persons and the sunday was
used mainly for coordination and preparation of the next 2 days.
After a few internal and informal meetings we had a common assembly
in the evening with our tunesian contacts from Psycho-Club. They are
a group mainly of students of psychology, who participate in the
boats4people-project and whose members e.g. travelled several times
to the camps in Choucha to support the refugees and migrants there.
Psycho-Club also had prepared rooms and workshops for a small
conference at the next day.
Moreover some women of our b4p-group participated on sunday in a
meeting of an italian womens-group and tunesian mothers and relatives
of disappeared. Both together were in preparation for a week of
protests in Tunis.

Monday, 9th of July: protest of the mothers and conference

At 10 a.m. a manifestation of the mothers of the disappeared was
announced in front of the social ministery. A part of our b4p-group
took part and supported this protest with banners and distributing
our – well fitting - flyers and postcards.
Unfortunately we as well as the friends from Psycho-Club learned very
shortterm about this action, and for 10 a.m. (until 2 p.m.) the rooms
for the conference were booked and the event was publicly announced.
Thus we had to start in the same time with workshops and speeches
about the EU-migration-policy, its consequences for countries like
Tunesia and about the situation in the camps in Choucha.
In a second part of this conference up to 80 people – including about
20 from Tunesia – came together for an assembly to report and discuss
about struggles and resistance against the borderregime. Beside the
presentation of local protests and a few transnational projects and
campaigns also the perception of struggles has been a topic. Simply
the fact to be a harraga and thus practically to undermine the
borderregime should be seen as struggle, or not? Even if this kind of
social movement has no direct political articulation. Or is it more
desperation than a struggle to try to cross the sea in small boats
and to take the risk of death?
Finally the question of a common campaign to abolish the visa-
restrictions have been raised and it was commentated from different
positions, that the tunesian government recently intended to „open“
the borders within the Maghreb (easier travelling and communal right
to vote). Both could not be discussed more intensive as it was too
less time and the conference had to be finished.

Tuesday, 10th of July: deepening discussion and premiere of theater

In the early morning a delegation of our B4P-group -10 activists from
9 countries! -  started to go to Choucha. They plan to help to
coordinate the travelling and participation of refugees and migrants
from the camps in the meeting of the world social forum in Monastir.
The both questions from the end of the conference of yesterday –
about a possible campaign against the visa-regime and about positions
to the „border-opening“ in the Maghreb – were rediscussed and
deepened again in a smaller meeting. And mainly the friends from
Psycho-Club should get another opportunity to present their
estimations and opinions as it was not enough space in the day before.
Concerning the „opening“ of the borders in the Maghreb and the
negative sentiments it was explained to us, that many people in
Tunesia mistrust in general any government initiative, that some
critisize the one-way openings in Tunesia (without similar
facilitation in other Maghreb countries), that a protectionist
counter-argumentation is widespread (too less working places for
Tunesians and now even more concurrences) and also the fear, that an
fundamental-islamic influence (for example from Algeria) could grow.
Informations are missing and also a well-balanced public discussion
to comunicate this in general useful step onto a Maghreb-Union...
Concerning the question of a campaign against the visa-obligations it
was mentioned that migration and the issue of freedom of movement is
a general and important topic in the whole tunesian society. Students
are confronted with fees in european universities, which most of them
can never pay, and even business-men would constantly experience the
racist exclusion through the visa-politics by border-controls and
arbitrarily push-backs. But it should not forgotten, that even
without visa-obligations a lot of Tunesians could not travel. Because
of a precarious income they simply lack of money. It was consensus,
that open borders to Europe of course would not solve all problems
and that a campaign against the visa-regime has to be connected with
the topic of precarisation and social exclusion of big parts of the
population - that such a campaign has to be part of a general
transformation of the societies ....

Moreover we have to take into considerations a few pitfalls: the EU
offers visa-facilitations, but it is connected with various
conditions. Businessmen and students should get easier access, and
labourforces, who are needed in Europe, can receive temporary
residence permissions. And such facilitations are aditionally tied to
the condition, that the tunesian government has to intensify the
migration-control against the subsaharian Africa. Insofar the danger
is given, that visa-facilitations would be connected with new
divisions and we have to explain in a potential campaign, that we
demand an unconditional abolishment of the visa-regime in the
mediterranean in the frame of a struggle for freedom of movement for
On a practical level it is the challenge to draft a sensibilisation
campaign and new creative forms of actions must be developed.
Demonstrations and strikes happens every day, often with brutal
confrontations with police, what spreads fear to many people. Which
way it is possible to make known such a campaign in the
neighbourhoods and how to mobilize? Could an infotour or even a
caravan through various cities be an useful idea? With such questions
we had to stop this interesting and deepening round of discussion and
it was a proposal to try to continue in the next days in Monastir.
In the evening of Tuesday finally the theater performance, which was
prepared by b4p-activists from berlin, had its premiere on the roof
of a bar near Kasbah (and with a very nice view to the old city of
Tunis). With simple methods – and thus to present more or less
everywhere – the story of two Harragas on the background of the
revolution in Tunesia was presented, a nice first event with an
impressive performance of our tunesian comrade. And this theater
hopefully will have a lot of follow ups, in Monastir as well as in
other places.

B4P-Report about the delegation to Choucha 11th of July

On the 11th of July 2012, a B4P-delegation of eleven activists from nine
African and European countries went to the refugee camp of Choucha at the
Tunisian/Libyan border. We wanted to invite eight representatives of
different communities to Monastir, where a Forum is going on to prepare
the World Social Forum, which will take place in Tunisia in 2013.

Our delegation was prevented by the military to enter the camp and we got
to know that the UNHCR had called the Tunisian Ministry of Defense to do
so. It was announced in the media, that visits to the camp are only
possible with an official permission of this ministry. We explained to the
soldiers that we wanted to talk to refugees officially invited some weeks
ago by the Forum to come to Monastir and to arrange their transport. We
were asked to give them the names of these refugees, but we refused and
called them on our own.

We could meet the refugees under the trees in front of the camp, but some
of those who were invited, could not go to Monastir because of
appointments with the UNHCR or dared not to go because of fear to be
punished, others could not be reached by phone. After some discussions,
eight people decided to go and represent the refugees of Choucha in
Monastir: two women and one man from Ethopia, men from Chad, Sudan,
Darfur, Somalia and Bangladesh, almost all of them rejected asylum

Together with some of them, we wrote a press release about the actual
situtation in Choucha, the struggles and the demands of the refugees (see
attachment). On the way and during the Forum, the refugees told us their
stories and about the unbearable conditions in the camp. They asked us
urgently to support them in order to find a human solution for all of
them, because they cannot stand it in this camp any more.

We handed out the Freedom not Frontex text. Underneath the group from
Choucha that was push-back by the Italian borderguards to Libya and sent
to Choucha/ They signed - with help of the Italian laywer in the
delegation - a statement  sueing the Italian state for this.

Together with the refugees, who had to return to Choucha on the 14th of
july, we call on all of you to think about ways to put pressure on the
governments of European states, to open their borders and, in cooperation
with the UNCHR and the Tunisian government,  give protection, rights and
human living conditions to all refugees and migrants. Camps like Choucha
have to be closed down and freedom of movement must be a human right for

B4P-Report about the station Monastir (12th, 13th and 14th of July)

Thursday, 12.7.: Arrival and WSF-opening

The B4P-travelgroup left from Tunis to Monastir at 11th of July to
participate in the preparation-meeting of the world-social-forum (WSF),
which in turn should happen in Tunesia in 2013. After an internal
coordination-meeting with exchange and reports about the last days and
about the updated plans for the days in Monastir the opening event of
the WSF-meeting started in the early evening. About 500 participants and
interested people, mainly from the Maghreb, from African and European
countries, came together in the yard of the old castle close by the
harbour of Monastir. Several speeches from various representatives from
the social-forum-process as well as from social movements and unions of
Tunesia were presented, followed by a concert. As B4P we had put some
banners on a wall and offered our materials on an info-table. Our
multilingual flyers, postcards and buttons attracted a lot of interest.
Moreover, on the general WSF-flyers as well as on the big banners for
the WSF, which have been placed in the city of Monastir, the B4P-logo
was present in a prominent position. And in the general program of the
next day migration and B4P was one of the main topics.

Friday, 13.7.: Assemby, Workshops and central action at the port

More than 200 people took place in our opening assembly, the room was
fairly crowded. After a presentation of B4P, several reports from other
initiatives and organizations were given, e.g. from a recent
delegation-mission to Libya, where refugees and migrants are arrested in
big camps under inhuman conditions once again. Obviously the new
government in cooperation with the armed militias are willingly taking
over the watchdog-role to prevent migration, which previously the regime
of Gaddafi played in the interest of, as well as with financial support
of, the European Union. After that, two mothers of disapperared,
respecitvely dead boat people took the stage. They demanded both
compensation for the dead boat people respectively intelligence about
the disappeared, and the abolition of the deadly visa-regime. Finally a
representative of the Choucha-delegation gave a report about the
continuous unbearable and inhumane situation in the camp at the Libyan

You can find the more detailed migration-related program with the
plenary and the workshops on the website.

In the afternoon, three workshops followed:

For the workshop of the Dead and Disappeared at the Borders,
approximately 60 participants came together. Some of them presented
altogether seven projects from different countries – among them Tunisia,
Algeria, Mali, Greece and Mexico/USA. The participants started an
exchange of the different projects, the different experiences and
difficulties, which was very inspiring. A first understanding about
common demands and activities was reached. So it was proposed to make
the topic of the disappeared and dead of the borders the central topic
for the International Day of the Rights of the Migrants on the 18th of
Dec 2012.

In the second workshop about Migration in the Maghreb, the refugee camp
in Choucha stood in the center of the discussion. A press declaration
with the demands of the self-organized refugees in this camp was
commonly passed in this workshop.

The third workshop discussed the demand for Global Freedom of Movement.
Participants debated about possibilities for further mobilization and
campains in Tunisia. Among other proposals there is the idea of a
caravan for the right to migration, going through several Tunisian
cities (see below).

In a final plenary all these ideas were brought together and presented.

In the WSF-meeting the B4P-project was ranking on a quite prominent
spot, which found its expression too in the fact that several busses
were chartered to carry several hundred persons to the central
B4P-action in the small harbour of Ksibet el Mediouni, neighbouring
Monastir. The action itself, however, took place somehow under an ill
star, as the Oloferne touched ground still far off the harbour, so the
B4P-delegation had to be shipped in on smaller fishermens vessels. And
because of strong wind, and a lack of coordination, only a small part of
the lantern-balloons that we had ready could be launched. Originally it
was planned to flood the sky with hundreds of such sky-lights in the
commemoration of the dead of the European border regime.

On the other hand, however, there was an inpressive artistic
intervention by a group of nude persons painted all in white, which in
the course of their performance sprinkled themselves with blood red
colour and ended up squatting at the utmost end of the pier, awaiting
the delegation to come in on the boats. A press conference took place,
and again the banderole with the list of all the names of the dead of
the European border regime was displayed, and some of the names read out

Saturday, 14. 7.: workshops on perspectives, with Watch-the-Med and

While the B4P-boat Oloferne prepared for the last stage of its journey
to Lampedusa, our transnational travelling-group – for some participants
on their last day in Tunisia - held still two workshops on further
On the one hand there was a meeting with Charles Heller and Lorenzo
Pezzani, founders of Watch-the-Med. They presented the background and
first idea, and the first steps towards realization of this interactive
mapping-project. A separate text about this will follow soon. The
discussion evolved around the different elements and potentials. It
turned out that this project could lead the B4P project out of a rather
symbolic and mediatic intervention towards taking real influence in
migration events. This means, not only to reconstruct the circumstances
of the „left-to-die-boat“ and to denounce the respective presponsables
at NATO, FRONTEX and border polices politically and to sue them on a
legal level. Moreover the outstanding goal of Watch-the-Med for the
future would be to establish an sms-emergency-call-system, by which in
case of  emergency at sea a network of actors of civil society could be
alarmed quickly to build up political pressure as fast as possible. The
aim would be to make the coast guard rescue the endangered boat people
immediately. Obviously, there were a lot of open questions about if and
how this could work practically. In the next weeks, different
protagonists should be adressed and involved into the project, to helpto
make it work.

On the other hand there was a (final) meeting with the members of the
Psycho-Club. We talked about further activities in Tunisia, and
concretized the proposal for a caravan for freedom of movement from the
workshop that took place on the previous day. First thoughts were about
a small info-tour in December 2012, with only a limited number of
participants, and to build up on those first practical experiences to
organize a second, bigger caravan in 2013. Migration as a human right
should be the central subject. Migrants – relatives of disappeared or
dead harragas, deported, transit migrants – should be part of the
preparation process from the beginning. New forms of creative
sensibilization need to be developed, to reach out to the
demonstration-tired people in Tunisia, especially the poorer ones. In
the coming weeks core-groups for the preparation will be formed both on
the Tunisian and the European side, to concretize further those first
proposals. An e-mail-list for the communication is on the way to be

If this caravan is going to be one of the follow-up projects under the
umbrella of B4P, or if it is going to be a new initiatve, is going to be
discussed in the evaluation- and perspective-meeting of B4P.

Scboat@rezo.net - http://listes.rezo.net/mailman/listinfo/scboat

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