Boats4People Tunis update

Nieuws, gepost door: nn op 12/07/2012 07:09:13

Wanneer: 12/07/2012 - 22:52

[sorry this is in english, translation in dutch and pictures will come later]

Boats4People-Report from the Station in Tunis (8th until 10th of July 2012)

Pushback prevented, coordination-meetings, protest of the mothers, conference, deepening discussion, premiere of theater...

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 everybody. 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.

Tags: Boats4people


------ Pressrelease one survivor of boat Tueday near Zarzis

Boats 4 People. Press release n°5

Zarzis, 11th July 2012:

Boats 4 People: A delegation meets sole survivor of tragic incident that cost the lives of 55

A year and a few months after the "left-to-die boat" case lead to international indignation, another dramatically similar incident reveals how, despite the changed geopolitical situation, migrants keep dying in the Mediterranean sea in appalling conditions.

Last year, in March 2011, 63 people who had left Tripoli in the attempt to reach the Southern shores of Italy,died after drifting for 14 days at sea. This incident occurred during the international military intervention in Libya and as such in meticulously surveilled waters. Several damning reports were released on the failures of a series of actors and a legal case was filed in France for non-assistance. Now, despite the fall of the Qaddafi regime and the end of the international intervention in Libya, Boats4People has learned during an interview conducted this morning in Zarzis, Southern Tunisia, about another tragic case that shows once again the dramatic effects of the European migration regime.

Abbas, an Eritrean national who is the only survivor of this incident, was found on Tuesday at 14:30 by a Tunisian fisherman 35 miles off the coasts of Zarzis. He was hanging onto the remains of the rubber dinghy with which he had left Tripoli around 14 days earlier with 56 people on board (20 Somalians, 2 Sudanese and 34 Eritreans), among which his older brother and two sisters. After approximately 26 hours of navigation, the boat, which was in very bad conditions, capsized and only Abbas managed to hold onto the boat, whose engine was nevertheless damaged after falling into the water. He drifted alone for fourteen days in the open sea, occasionally sighting in the distance other vessels. After finally rescued by a Tunisian fisherman yesterday, a patrol boat of the Tunisian "Garde National Maritime" was sent out and took him onboard at 15:30. He was brought to the hospital in Zarzis, where he received treatment for dehydration and extreme exhaustion.

Boats4People denounces once again the policy of border closure that oblige migrants to resort to dangerous means to cross the Mediterranean as well as the criminalization of assistance to migrants in distress at sea, which have de facto transformed the Mediterranean in a cemetery.

In collaboration with researchers of the Forensic Oceanography project at Goldsmiths College, Boats4People will keep inquiring to determine if any measure could have been taken to avert the tragic fate of the passengers of this boat.

[edit: link naar video op verzoek OP weggehaald]

Press contact :

Lorenzo Pezzani : +216 20221811 (Italian/English/French)

for more information on the localization of the incident, see the near realtime mapping platform :


Press release 7: Route to Lampedusa!

Monastir, on July 15, 2012. After three days of action in Tunisia, Oloferne
resumes off.

Boats4People activities culminating in Monastir. The days of preparation for
the World Social Forum have strengthened the dynamics of common struggle,
whether the mobilization of migrants in the Maghreb or those of relatives of
the dead and missing at sea migrants.

Oloferne is preparing to sail the route of migrants heading to Lampedusa,
one of the gates of fortress Europe, where we will continue monitoring
activities and our “occupation” of the maritime space of the Mediterranean
where violations of the rights of migrants occur continuously in almost
total impunity.

If we were to meet, in the course of sailing, migrants’ boats in distress,
we will respect the obligation of aid and will exert the right to lend
assistance, under international law. Ours is not a mission to support, or
humanitarian’s one, because the deaths and disappearances at sea will end
only when the anti-migration European policies will no longer force people
to take off putting in danger their lives.

We will arrive in Lampedusa on Sunday, July 15 around midday. The
association Askavusa and local supporters of Boats4People will be present to
welcome the “goletta”.

The final stage of the Boats4People is only the beginning of a struggle that
our organizations are going to continue until the end.

Press contacts:
Nicanor Haon (English / español / français): +39 3282937198 Carmen Cordaro
(italiano): +39 3388640213 Satellite phone: +8821651175966 Nicanor Haon
Project coordinator
Skype: nicanorhaon
Facebook & Twitter: Boats 4 People

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