The Refugees in Libya movement has posted shocking images to awaken our consciences. But here, all is silent, and the hope for humanity is entrusted to a Europe that is reborn from the bottom up.
TURIN — "Let me die."
These were the desperate words of yet another migrant tortured by the Libyan mafia. Like many others from sub-Saharan Africa, this teenager had to leave his homeland wrecked by global apathy and injustice. And like many others, he ended up in the hands of a local criminal organization, who imprisoned him in one of the notorious camps in the Libyan town of Bani Walid.
We know of his fate from videos of his torture, which were shot in order to extort ransom from his family back home. A social movement led by the migrants, "Refugees in Libya," has been sharing this footage in hopes of awakening Europe's conscience.
But on this side of the Mediterranean, all is silent.
Italy bears a high degree of responsibility for the torture suffered by this boy and all other migrants in Libya.
As emphasized by the United Nations in their report partially published in Avvenire magazine, there is a direct link between the capture of migrants by the Libyan Coast Guard, which is funded by Italy, and their subsequent deportation to the mafia's hands in these refugee camps.
Until the cry of the migrants from the Libyan camps is heard, there will be no hope.
In 2017, Italy decided to set up and finance the Libyan Coast Guard. In the process we invited one of the main kingpins of the Libyan mafia, Bija, to sit with our intelligence services and negotiate an agreement. Every year from then, Italy has consistently renewed this deal.
Politics has never had the courage to enact change, and civil society has never been able to exert enough pressure on the authorities to stop underwriting this systematic violence and their de facto complicity with the Libyan mafia.
We must ask ourselves: What kind of country does it make us when we are incapable of responding to the agony of these refugees, tortured because of our own policies?
The stifling and dank detention center for migrants in Misrata, Libya, is over capacity as the weather gets warm.
Value of fraternity
The hope for redemption is not yet lost thanks to activists from across the continent who have come together to form a civil fleet. They rescue migrants from shipwrecks and pushbacks in the Mediterranean. It is because of the efforts of these activists, along with those who work alongside Refugees in Libya for the liberation of migrants in Libyan camps, that Europe has a chance yet to reconstruct the promise which it was first founded with. They are demonstrating to Europe the moral case for fraternity.
One of these organizations is called SOS Mediterranée, founded in 2015 by A German captain Klaus Vogel and French woman Sophie Beau as a reaction to Italy cancelling its maritime rescue operation Mare Nostrum in 2014. The organization charters vessels near the shores of Libya where migrant boats may find themselves in distress, saving the lives of people who would otherwise be ignored.
We are prisoners of individualism.
The tragedy of this era is that we have forgotten fraternity. We are prisoners of individualism, making us increasingly fearful, angry, and competitive. There is a connection between the suffering of migrants in Libyan camps and the pain of those oppressed by social injustice in Italy, including university students who lack access to the right to housing, exploited workers, people facing discrimination based on their sexual or gender identity, those who bear the brunt of ecological catastrophe, and so on. All of this is the result of a sick society that has forgotten fraternity.
There will be no salvation unless we accept accountability for building a new society that embraces the political value of fraternity. Authentic fraternity can only start by centering the least privileged. Until the cry of the migrants from the Libyan camps is heard, there will be no hope.
Let all our consciences awaken, and may we become capable of understanding that we can save ourselves only if we can summon the courage of empathy and visceral love.