I am an social and political activist in the field of migrants’ rights. I carry out my activities with two associations based in Venice: the free Italian language school “Liberalaparola” and a network of local organization called “Tutti i diritti umani per tutti” (All human rights for everybody). As activists and volunteers we share the same values and the belief that human rights and dignity are common goods, are the “pillars” of a democratic and fair society. Nowadays in Italy and in Europe we can see a continuous process of social exclusion and deprivation of rights that penalize in particular immigrants and, at the same time, we can see an increase of xenophobic and racist groups and parties. The strong and dangerous link among “institutional” racism, “mass media” racism and “popular” racism makes the life of many migrants an exhausting and never-ending “high-hurdle” in every moment of their life.
Network of local organizations “Tutti i diritti umani per tutti”: four years ago a group of local NGO’s and organizations that work in Venice on the fields of human rights and migration decided to join together to carry out campaigns and activities to promote human rights for migrants and minorities and to fight against racism and human rights’ violations. The first action was a campaign to support Sinti (Italian Rroma community) against racism and attacks made mainly by Lega Nord (an Italian racist political party); the following years many efforts of this network have been directed towards the topic of the violation of human rights and the deportation inside the maritime port of Venice, where many migrants (mostly youngsters) come after a terrible and highly-risky travel from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kurdistan, Turkey and Greece. The Italian border police in most cases sends these migrants back to Greece where they are tortured and detained; many youngsters try to hide themselves inside the cruise liners that go from Greece to Italy and some of them don’t survive. These migrants should have the right to get a lawyer and a interpreter to ask for asylum or simply to get the basic information when they arrive in Italy. But most part of them don’t have these rights so we inform the citizens about that situation organizing meetings and events (also inside the schools) and, at the same time, we put pressure on police insitutions and political institutions denouncing what is happening and asking for a change because the violation of human rights inside the port of Venice is going on and we think that in a (so-called) democratic country it isn’t acceptable such situation. From last summer we’ve started also to help african migrants coming from Libya - escaped because of the war - giving them different kinds of support such Italian language courses, translations, information about the procedures to ask for asylum; in addition to it, we’ve collected their complaints and their requests when the host organizations haven’t given them the basic services and help; for this reasons we are permanently in contact with local institutions and organizations as “observers” with the aim of giving voice to african migrants that are living a hard situation here in Italy.
Free italian language school “Liberalaparola”: we think that one of the most important rights is the right to learn the language of the country where you live. The free Italian language school “Liberalaparola” is part of the network “Tutti i diritti umani per tutti”. It has 30 teachers (all volunteers) and gives to more than one hundred migrants this right organizing free Italian language courses for everybody. The social and political meaning of our school is given by two facts: we don’t ask for documents (and we are nearly the only ones that do it here in Venice) and we consider our students as people and friends. We teach them and at the same time we learn a lot from them. We organize events where they have the chance to teach us their languages; once a week we have a theatrical workshop where we play both some “theatre of the oppressed” excercise and some creative language games; we arrange public events to promote our activities and to denounce laws and facts that are unfair and discriminatory towards migrants; we organize anti-racist football tournaments and also intercultural dinner. The events are organized inside a social center called “Rivolta”, a plural and free space where many activists and volunteers join together to fight against fascism and racism.
The network “Tutti i diritti umani per tutti” and the free Italian language school “Liberalaparola” (that is part of the network) share the same approach that I can define as a “large scale project” because our general purpose is asserting and promoting human rights for migrants and sensitizing public awareness about topic such anti-racism and anti-discrimination. The basic idea that we want to promote is that we must consider migrants as “people” with their dignity and their rights because for us they are not slaves, criminals, low-cost workforce, invaders or “clandestini” as many Italian politicians and mass media like to state and repeat.
If we are aware of it, we can build up a society without prejudices, fears and ignorance. And we can understand that human rights either are for everybody or are for nobody!