Giornata nazionale in memoria delle vittime dell’immigrazione
The morning of 3rd October 2013, a boat with some 500 people aboard approached the Isola dei Conigli close to Lampedusa, the southernmost Italian coast in the Mediterranean. They had travelled for two days as so many others had done before and would do afterword: with nothing but themselves.
Seeing the coast coming closer, they decided to light a fire so that people would see them from the shore. But the floor of the boat was cover with petrol and in a few minutes the boat was on fire. Men, women and children jumped in the sea trying to save themselves, whether they could swim or not. When the coast guard, the carabinieri and even private fishing boats arrived, they managed to save 155 people. In the hours that followed, 368 corpses (men, women and children) were taken from the sea.
In the third anniversary of that day, here in Italy we celebrate the first National Memorial Day of the Victims of Immigration, which was created by the President of the Italian Republic on 21 March 2016. It’s a way to remember who’s not here anymore, and to teach to who’s still here how to welcome and have no fear.
It’s a day of remembrance: “So to keep and revive memory of those who lost their lives in the attempt to immigrate to our Country while fleeing war, persecution and poverty”
It’s a day about truth: “So to make the public opinion sensible to civil solidarity toward all immigrants, to respect for the life and dignity of all individuals, to integration and welcome giving”
It’s a day about education: “So to educate young people to not be afraid and welcome people from abroad”
I remember those days. Seeing those corpses wrapped in black sheets on the shore of Lampedusa and then the hundreds of caskets lined up was horrible even from here. I cannot imagine what it meant for people there.
What I remember the most is the dignity of Lampedusa mayor, Giusi Nicolini, a woman who then has always worked for everyone’s right to be safe and have a future. That was the first time I heard about her. Her text to the Minister of the Interior was repeated on every media
Vieni con me a contare i morti
(Come with me and count the dead)