• Up to seven dead in West Papua as protest turns violent | World news | The Guardian

    A source at one protest in the Deiyai Regency told The Guardian on Thursday that police had fired lived rounds into a crowd of demonstrators outside the regency offices on Wednesday. Six people were killed and two seriously injured, the source, who requested anonymity fearing reprisals, said. “Shots were fired at the protesters, but people continued to sit in protest,” the source added.

    Al Jazeera also reported that six protesters had been killed.

    #Papouasie #Indonésie

  • C’est juste une erreur, mais c’est drôle

    Russia Today puts Japan on the map, where New Zealand should be | World news | The Guardian


    Russian news channel RT has apologised for apparently accidentally labelling New Zealand as “Japan”, and Papua New Guinea as “South Korea” in an embarrassing southern hemisphere mix-up.

    The mistake came in a segment produced by their US bureau about potential new missile bases in “Japan, South Korea and Australia”. But in a large, erroneous graphic only Australia was correctly labelled.

  • West Papua: thousands take to streets after week of violence | World news | The Guardian

    An Indonesian government clampdown on the internet in the region has continued. A spokesperson for the Papua police, Ahmad Kamal, told the Guardian that internet services would continue to be limited for another week to prevent the spread of “fake news”.

    When protests erupted in Jayapura last Monday, the government slowed internet speeds. Data services were cut completely by Wednesday.
    Why are there violent clashes in Papua and West Papua?
    Read more

    Markus Haluk, from the United Movement for the Liberation of West Papua, said the internet shutdown was “part of the military operation because the Indonesian military always finds a way to isolate Papua and stop Papuan voices being shared with the world”.

    Local journalists have decried the blackout, saying it has made it increasingly difficult to verify information in the field at a critical time, while thousands signed a petition calling for services to be restored.

    #Papouasie #manifestations #internet #censure #Indonésie #racisme #discrimination

  • Adieu Jakarta, l’Indonésie déplace sa capitale sur l’île de Bornéo

    La nouvelle capitale indonésienne sera construite dans la province de #Kalimantan-Est, sur l’île de #Bornéo. Une décision annoncée par le président Joko Widodo pour rééquilibrer le territoire indonésien, mais qui suscite de nombreuses réactions négatives.[...]

    Le coût financier d’une telle opération, chiffré par le gouvernement lui-même à 466 000 milliards de roupies, soit 30 milliards d’euros, et le coût environnemental sont parmi les principales critiques soulevées par ce projet, prévu pour être en partie achevé d’ici à 2024.

    Après c’est paywall #Indonésie

    • #merci

      D’après le texte, la localisation – encore à préciser – serait plutôt un peu plus au nord, à cheval sur les deux provinces :

      The government has conducted in-depth studies in the past three years and as a result of those studies the new capital will be built in part of North Penajam Paser regency and part of Kutai Kertanegara regency in East Kalimantan.

      soit, sur l’autre carte, quelque part entre Samarinda et Balikpapan, cœur pétrolier de l’Indonésie.

    • Juste pour voir (ça m’étonne toujours que ce ne soit pas le premier truc qu’on mette en illustration) la densité de population en Indonésie…

      Map of Indonesia and its population density. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2017).

      À voir à l’usage. Il y a déjà pas mal d’exemples de doublets capitale politique/capital économique :
      • Brasilia / São Paulo-Rio de Janeiro
      • Canberra / Sidney
      • Astana / Almaty
      • Naypyidaw / Yangon (Rangoun)
      • Berlin / Francfort-sur-le-Main (on va dire)
      • Berne / Zurich
      • Rome / Milan
      • Washington / euh…

    • Casse-tête foncier autour de la future capitale indonésienne

      Plusieurs groupes revendiquent les terres situées sur le site de la future capitale indonésienne. Un obstacle au projet de construction que le gouvernement cherche à lever.


    • Will Indonesia’s new capital just move the problem to the jungle?

      After years of speculation and debate, Indonesia announced last week that it will be moving its capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan, nearly 1,300km (800 miles) away.

      Jakarta has become crowded and polluted and is sinking at an alarming rate. East Kalimantan, on Indonesia’s part of Borneo island, couldn’t be more of a contrast - it’s known for its lush rainforest and is home to orang-utans and other rare wildlife.

      The move will cost an estimated 466 trillion rupiah ($32.79bn; £26.73bn) and will be one of the biggest infrastructure projects the government has ever undertaken.

      So what will it take to uproot a capital - and at what cost?
      Why is this happening?

      Researchers say that large parts of Jakarta, home to more than 10 million people, could be entirely submerged by 2050.

      North Jakarta has sunk by 2.5m (8ft) over the past 10 years and is continuing to sink an average of 1-15cm a year. Almost half the city is already below sea level.

      One of the main causes is the extraction of groundwater to meet the growing city’s needs. The city is also built on marshy lands and the surrounding seas are rising.

      The city’s traffic jams are also notorious - government ministers have to be escorted by police convoys to get to meetings on time.

      The planning minister has said snarl-ups costs the economy 100 trillion rupiah ($6.8bn, £5.4bn) a year.

      The fastest-sinking city in the world
      Changing places: Why countries decide to move capitals
      All you need to know about Indonesia

      Jakarta is also one of the most air-polluted in the world and is overcrowded and expensive - many people live in informal housing settlements.
      Where will the new capital be?

      It will be built across two regencies called Kutai Kartanegara and Penajam Paser Utara in the region of East Kalimantan. Work is slated to begin in 2024.

      Plans show it will cover around 180,000 hectares - that’s three times the size of Jakarta.

      Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said the area was chosen for several reasons. For one, it’s not as exposed to the natural disasters - floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis - which plague other parts of Indonesia.

      It’s also near urban areas that are already relatively developed - the cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda.

      “[There is already] some infrastructure and existing cities [nearby],” Johannes Widodo, an associate professor in the National University of Singapore’s School of Design and Environment told the BBC.

      The actual site of the new capital, however, is relatively undeveloped. It’s mostly palm oil plantations and forests that have been cleared by logging, said WWF Indonesia director for Kalimantan Irwan Gunawan.

      These areas were once home to rich vegetation but have already been “destroyed” in the years past - and Mr Gunawan told the BBC he was worried that this destruction will only grow once the new capital is developed.

      Jakarta will still remain the centre of business and trade - it’s just the country’s administrative headquarters that will be moving.

      But Mr Gunawan said that "as a developing country, all the decisions are made in the central government area.

      This is “going to attract massive migration and if people are moving in it’s unavoidable they would need houses, and you need timber for construction... so it’s possible that logging would get worse”.

      Some of this migration is already happening. Agung Podomoro Land, a property developer, announced that it would be building luxury apartments, hotels, shopping malls and other facilities in East Kalimantan.

      In nearby North Kalimantan province, a massive project to build a hydropower plant said to be worth $17.8bn is also in the works. It’s clear the government is doing its bit to develop Kalimantan as a whole.
      What effect will this have on the environment?

      East Kalimantan is still home to a diverse range of wildlife and lush rainforests. It’s especially known for being home to orang-utans.

      The Indonesian government says at least 50% of the capital will consist of green spaces. The Minister of National Development Planning Bambang Brodjonegoro has called the concept a “forest city”.

      But Mr Gunawan isn’t convinced.

      “It’s not enough by saying that this new capital would be maintained as a forest city - it’s not only that exact area but the surrounding areas that need to be considered,” he said.

      “Orang-utans have already suffered significant decline over the past 20 years due to the expansion of palm oil plantations and logging. Their habitats are far away from the new capital but as it grows, new settlements will grow... and will eventually reduce the habitats of the orang-utans. It’s just a matter of time.”

      Another campaigner from environmental group The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) agrees.

      “Deforestation will happen. More mining for construction material [will take place],” Sawung, an Urban and Energy campaigner at WALHI, told the BBC.

      Sawung - who uses one name - adds that if the government does not do its part to tackle the problems that plagued Jakarta, “it’s only [moving] Jakarta’s problems - of water, air pollution, transport and housing - to Kalimantan”.
      What about the people who are already there?

      At the moment, almost all of the wealth from the natural resources in this area flow to Java - the island on which Jakarta sits. Indonesians outside of Java have long complained about being neglected by the central government.

      One resident of East Kalimantan told BBC News Indonesian that it would be “nice to be close to the central government”. Another said they hoped it would translate to better resources in the area.

      But Mr Sawung say many locals still remain “sceptical” about the move, saying they believed only “government officials and businessman” would benefit.

      And there’s another big group of people who have not been consulted - Kalimantan’s indigenous groups, known collectively as the Dayaks.

      “The Dayak are forest-dependent people... their ways help us maintain the forest ecosystem. Their rights should be protected. We don’t want them to become like the [indigenous people] of Jakarta who have been sidelined,” said Mr Gunawan.

      Advocacy group Minority Rights Group International (MRGI) says the move would “destroy” the Dayak’s environment.

      “The Dayaks have been persistent victims of environmental degradation,” Joshua Castellino of the MRGI told news agency Reuters.

      “The abandonment of Jakarta due to pollution and overcrowding is hardly an endorsement for a move into someone else’s backyard where the same will likely occur.”


  • Trump’s bid to buy Greenland shows that the ‘scramble for the Arctic’ is truly upon us | World news | The Guardian

    Donald Trump’s cack-handed attempt to buy Greenland, and the shirty response of Denmark’s prime minister, provoked amusement last week. But it was mostly nervous laughter. The US intervention shone a cold light on a rapidly developing yet neglected crisis at the top of the world – the pillage of the Arctic.

    Like the late 19th-century “scramble for Africa”, when European empires expanded colonial control of the continent’s land mass from 10% to 90% in 40 years, the Arctic region is up for grabs. As was the case then, the race for advantage is nationalistic, dangerously unregulated, and harmful to indigenous peoples and the environment.

    #arctique #climat #ressources_naturelles #géopolitique

    • The US navy is reportedly planning Arctic “#freedom_of_navigation” operations similar to those in the South China Sea, using assets from the US 2nd Fleet that was relaunched last year to raise America’s profile in the North Atlantic and Arctic. Nato, to which five Arctic nations belong, is also taking an increased interest in the “security implications” of China’s activities, its secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, said this month. All this increases the risk of conflict.

      China’s main focus at present is not military but on energy and resources, via investment in Arctic countries. In addition to Russian natural gas, it is prospecting for minerals in Greenland and has agreed a free-trade deal with Iceland to increase fish imports. It refers to the NSR as the “#polar_silk_road” and there is talk of linking it to Beijing’s pan-Asian belt and road initiative.

      Yet like any other country, where China’s business interests lead, enhanced military, security and geopolitical engagement will surely follow. Strategic competition by the Great Powers, greed for resources, a lack of legal constraints – and the aggravating impact all this new activity will have on the climate crisis – suggest the 21st century “scramble for the Arctic” can only end badly.

      #OBOR #route_de_la_soie_polaire

  • Russia indicates rocket engine exploded in test of mini nuclear reactor | World news | The Guardian

    Je fais donc un post séparé pour cet autre accident survenu en #Russie

    Russian scientists have indicated that they were working on miniaturised sources of nuclear energy when a rocket engine exploded last week, increasing scrutiny of the possibility that the accident occurred while testing an experimental cruise missile powered by a small reactor.

    The explosion last Thursday at a military testing ground in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region killed at least five people and caused radiation readings in neighbouring cities to spike to 20 times their normal level for half an hour.

    Russia’s defence ministry said the explosion had taken place during testing of a rocket engine, but the country’s nuclear agency, Rosatom, later confirmed that several of its employees had been killed during testing of an “isotope power source in a liquid propulsion system”.

    David Cullen, the director of the Nuclear Information Service in the UK, said on Monday that the view among independent experts was that the explosion appeared to have been caused by the failure of an experimental nuclear-powered cruise missile known in Russia as the 9M730 Burevestnik and by Nato as the SSC-X-9 Skyfall.


  • Arctic wildfires spew soot and smoke cloud bigger than EU | World news | The Guardian

    A spate of huge fires in northern Russia, Alaska, Greenland and Canada discharged 50 megatonnes of CO2 in June and 79 megatonnes in July, far exceeding the previous record for the Arctic.

    The intensity of the blazes continues with 25 megatonnes in the first 11 days of August – extending the duration beyond even the most persistent fires in the 17-year dataset of Europe’s satellite monitoring system.

    Mark Parrington, a scientist in the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said the previous record was just a few weeks. “We haven’t seen this before,” he said. “The fire intensity is still well above average.”

    He said the affected regions previously registered unusually high temperatures and a low level of soil moisture, which created the perfect conditions for ignition. Globally, June and July were the hottest months ever measured.

    #arctique #climat #feu #incendie #fumée

  • Sicilian fishermen risk prison to rescue migrants: ‘No human would turn away’

    A father and son describe what it’s like to hear desperate cries on the sea at night as Italy hardens its stance against incomers.

    Captain #Carlo_Giarratano didn’t think twice when, late last month, during a night-time fishing expedition off the coast of Libya, he heard desperate cries of help from 50 migrants aboard a dinghy that had run out of fuel and was taking on water. The 36-year-old Sicilian lives by the law of the sea. He reached the migrants and offered them all the food and drink he had. While his father Gaspare coordinated the aid effort from land, Carlo waited almost 24 hours for an Italian coastguard ship that finally transferred the migrants to Sicily.

    News of that rescue spread around the world, because not only was it kind, it was brave. Ever since Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, closed Italian ports to rescue ships, the Giarratanos have known that such an act could land them with a hefty fine or jail. But if confronted with the same situation again, they say they’d do it all over 1,000 times.

    “No seaman would ever return to port without the certainty of having saved those lives,” says Carlo, whose family has sailed the Mediterranean for four generations. “If I had ignored those cries for help, I wouldn’t have had the courage to face the sea again.”

    I meet the Giarratanos at the port of #Sciacca, a fishing village on the southwestern coast of Sicily. I know the town like the back of my hand, having been born and raised there among the low-rise, colourful homes built atop an enormous cliff overlooking the sea. I remember the Giarratanos from the days I’d skip school with my friends and secretly take to the sea aboard a small fishing boat. We’d stay near the pier and wait for the large vessels returning from several days of fishing along the Libyan coast.


    Those men were our heroes, with their tired eyes, sunburnt skin and ships overflowing with fish. We wanted to be like them, because in my hometown those men – heroic and adventurous like Lord Jim, rough and fearless like Captain Ahab, stubborn and nostalgic like Hemingway’s “Old Man” Santiago – are not simply fishermen; they are demigods, mortals raised to a divine rank.

    Fishermen in Sciacca are the only ones authorised to carry, barefoot, the one-tonne statue of the Madonna del Soccorso during religious processions. Legend has it that the statue was found at sea and therefore the sea has a divine nature: ignoring its laws, for Sicilian people, means ignoring God. That’s why the fishing boats generally bear the names of saints and apostles – except for the Giarratanos’, which is called the Accursio Giarratano.

    “He was my son,” says Gaspare, his eyes swelling with tears. “He died in 2002 from a serious illness. He was 15. Now he guides me at sea. And since then, with every rescue, Accursio is present.”

    Having suffered such a loss themselves, they cannot bear the thought of other families, other parents, other brothers, enduring the same pain. So whenever they see people in need, they rescue them.

    “Last November we saved 149 migrants in the same area,” says Carlo. “But that rescue didn’t make news because the Italian government, which in any case had already closed the ports to rescue ships, still hadn’t passed the security decree.”

    In December 2018 the Italian government approved a security decree targeting asylum rights. The rules left hundreds in legal limbo by removing humanitarian protection for those not eligible for refugee status but otherwise unable to return home, and were applied by several Italian cities soon afterwards. Then, in June, Rome passed a new bill, once again drafted by Salvini, that punished non-governmental organisation rescue boats bringing migrants to Italy without permission with fines of up to €50,000 and possible imprisonment for crew members.

    “I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t think I might end up in prison when I saw that dinghy in distress,” says Carlo. “But I knew in my heart that a dirty conscience would have been worse than prison. I would have been haunted until my death, and maybe even beyond, by those desperate cries for help.” It was 3am when Giarratano and his crew located the dinghy in the waters between Malta and Libya, where the Giarratanos have cast their nets for scabbard fish for more than 50 years. The migrants had left Libya the previous day, but their dinghy had quickly run into difficulty.

    “We threw them a pail to empty the water,” says Carlo. “We had little food – just melba toast and water. But they needed it more than we did. Then I alerted the authorities. I told them I wouldn’t leave until the last migrant was safe. This is what we sailors do. If there are people in danger at sea, we save them, without asking where they come from or the colour of their skin.”


    Malta was the nearest EU country, but the Maltese coastguard appears not to have responded to the SOS. Hours passed and the heat became unbearable. From land, Gaspare asked Carlo to wait while he contacted the press. Weighing on his mind was not only the duty to rescue the people, but also, as a father, to protect his son.

    “I wonder if even one of our politicians has ever heard desperate cries for help at high sea in the black of night,” Gaspare says. “I wonder what they would have done. No human being – sailor or not – would have turned away.” The Italian coastguard patrol boat arrived after almost 24 hours and the migrants were transferred to Sicily, where they disembarked a few days later.

    “They had no life vests or food,” says Carlo. “They ran out of fuel and their dinghy would have lost air in a few hours. If you decide to cross the sea in those conditions, then you’re willing to die. It means that what you’re leaving behind is even worse, hell.”

    Carlo reached Sciacca the following day. He was given a hero’s welcome from the townspeople and Italian press. Gaspare was there, too, eager to embrace his son. Shy and reserved, Carlo answered their questions.

    He doesn’t want to be a hero, he says, he was just doing his duty.

    “When the migrants were safely aboard the coastguard ship, they all turned to us in a gesture of gratitude, hands on their hearts. That’s the image I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life, which will allow me to face the sea every day without regret.”

    #sauvetage #pêcheurs #Sicile #pêcheurs_siciliens #délit_de_solidarité #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Italie #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #Gaspare_Giarratano #Giarratano #témoignage

    • A Sicilian fishing town, and the perils of Italy’s migration deal with Libya

      ‘We follow the law of the sea. For us, these are not migrants; they are simply people stranded at sea that we must help.’

      Over the past decade, the Sicilian fishing town of Mazara del Vallo has had a front-row seat to witness escalating EU efforts to curb migration across the Mediterranean, but its fishermen have paid their own high price for Europe’s strategy and its dealings with Libya.

      Mazara’s fishermen have rescued thousands of asylum seekers and migrants in distress. They have also been targeted by the Libyan Coast Guard for fishing in waters that Libya considers its own.

      Pietro Russo, a 66-year-old fisherman from the town, has been sailing the central Mediterranean since he was 17. “Even we, as EU citizens, have experienced the brutality of the Libyan Coast Guard on our own skin, so we know what migrants desperate to leave Libyan prisons feel,” Russo told The New Humanitarian.

      2021 is shaping up to be the deadliest year in the central Mediterranean since 2017. At least 640 people have drowned or gone missing following shipwrecks, and more than 14,000 asylum seekers and migrants have reached Italy – a ratio of one death for about every 22 people who survive the crossing.

      In comparison, around 1,430 people had died or disappeared in the central Mediterranean by the end of May 2017, and more than 60,000 had arrived in Italy – a ratio of 1 death for every 42 arrivals.

      This year, more than 8,500 asylum seekers have also been intercepted by the EU-backed Libyan Coast Guard and returned to detention centres in Libya, European navies have largely withdrawn from search and rescue activities, and NGOs trying to help migrants – facing numerous bureaucratic hurdles – are struggling to maintain a consistent presence at sea.

      As weather conditions for crossing the sea improve heading into summer, Mazara’s fishermen find themselves increasingly alone, caught in the middle of a humanitarian crisis that appears to be getting worse and facing a hostile Libyan Coast Guard.

      Many of the fishermen feel their government has abandoned them in favour of maintaining good relations with Libyan authorities (an accusation Italian authorities refute), and are frustrated that Italy appears to be turning a blind eye to the risks of partnering with Libya to curb migration – risks the fishermen have witnessed and experienced first hand.

      Last September, 18 fishermen from Mazara were captured by forces aligned with Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar while fishing in a disputed area of the sea. They were held in a detention centre in Libya for more than 100 days. Dozens of fishermen from the town have been similarly detained in a series of incidents stretching back to the 1980s.

      More recently, at the beginning of May, the crew of a Libyan Coast Guard boat donated by Italy opened fire at three fishing vessels from Mazara – wounding one fisherman – for allegedly entering the disputed waters.

      Italy’s government acknowledges that maritime boundaries need to be more clearly defined to avoid future incidents, but with the focus on other priorities – from the COVID-19 pandemic to controlling migration – that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

      Meanwhile, Mazara’s fishermen are frustrated that tens of millions of euros of Italian taxpayer money is being used to support a group that attacks and detains them, and they are increasingly speaking out about their experiences – and about what they say is Italy and the EU’s Faustian bargain with Libya in the central Mediterranean.

      “If [Libya] is not safe for us, who are Italian citizens and can have protection, how can it be [safe] for vulnerable asylum seekers?” Roberto Figuccia, a Mazara fisherman who has been detained by the Libyan Coast Guard twice since 2015 and has rescued more than 150 asylum seekers and migrants at sea, told The New Humanitarian.
      The early years

      Located on the western edge of Sicily, Mazara del Vallo is around 170 kilometres from Tunisia and 550 kilometres from Libya – about the same distance the town is from Rome. Home to around 50,000 people, it is a melting pot of Mediterranean cultures. Since the 1960s, thousands of Tunisians have settled in the area to work in the fishing sector, and many now hold dual citizenship. About seven percent of the town’s current population was born abroad – a relatively high number for a small Italian town.

      Russo, however, has roots in Mazara that stretch as far back as anyone in his family can remember. He was born and raised in the town, and never left.

      He recalled setting out on a pristine early autumn morning in 2007 from Mazara’s port, steering his fishing boat out into the shimmering waters of the central Mediterranean. Russo and his five-man crew were preparing the fishing nets as the sun inched higher in the morning sky when someone spotted an object shining on the horizon. The crew soon realised it was a help signal from a boat stranded at sea.

      Russo piloted his trawler towards the people in distress. As he drew closer, he saw a deflating rubber dinghy packed with asylum seekers and migrants. There were 26 people onboard, mostly from Chad and Somalia. It was the first time Russo had rescued anyone at sea, and the event is seared in his memory.

      Back then – before numbers started soaring in 2014 and 2015 and the wider world suddenly started paying attention – it was still common for anywhere from around 17,000 to 37,000 asylum seekers and migrants to cross the central Mediterranean to Italy in any given year. No one was really keeping track of how many people died.

      Italian authorities would often call on fishing vessels from Mazara – like Russo’s – to assist in rescues and stabilise the situation until the Italian Coast Guard or Navy could arrive. “Since we were often closer to the scene, they would tell us to go ahead,” Russo said. “We would do it even if that meant losing work days and money.”

      The fishermen’s rescue efforts gained international recognition, and several received awards for their humanitarian spirit. For most fishermen from Mazara, the rescues are not political; they just make sense. “We have never abandoned anyone,” said Russo, who has been involved in five other rescues. “We follow the law of the sea. For us, these are not migrants; they are simply people stranded at sea that we must help.”

      But in 2009, attitudes about migration outside of Mazara started to shift. The previous year, nearly 37,000 asylum seekers and migrants landed in the country – an increase from around 20,000 each of the three previous years. Sensing a political opportunity, Silvio Berlusconi, the populist Italian prime minister at the time, focused attention on the increase and signed a treaty of friendship with Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, committing the two countries to work together to curb irregular migration.

      In July 2009, Italy also introduced a law criminalising irregular entry into the country, and fishermen found themselves facing the threat of being charged with facilitating irregular immigration for rescuing people at sea. Each time they disembarked asylum seekers and migrants in Italian ports, they were now required to give a deposition to police stating they were not smuggling them into the country.

      The 2009 law did not deter Mazara del Vallo’s fleet, but the policy made it more bureaucratically onerous – and potentially legally risky – for civilians to rescue people in distress.

      “Authorities would still close an eye on [rescues] in the first couple of years because those were new guidelines that military authorities had just begun navigating. But it was definitely the first signal that things were about to go in a different direction,” Russo explained.
      The shift

      The more decisive shift towards outright hostility against civilians rescuing asylum seekers and migrants in the central Mediterranean began after October 2014, when the Italian Navy’s search and rescue mission Mare Nostrum came to an end.

      The mission was launched one year early, in October 2013, after more than 400 people died in two shipwrecks off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa. In Italy and the rest of Europe, the tragedies galvanised a brief moment of sympathy for people risking their lives at sea to reach safety.

      But the year that it operated, the number of people crossing the central Mediterranean jumped to over 170,000 – nearly three times the previous high. Most of those arriving in Europe were refugees escaping civil war in Syria or fleeing repression and human rights abuses in countries like Eritrea. But among European politicians, the idea took hold that having search and rescue assets at sea was acting as a pull factor, encouraging people to attempt the journey.

      Negotiations over an EU-backed operation to replace Mare Nostrum broke down. In the months and years that followed, Mazara’s fishermen noticed Italian and EU naval assets – deployed to combat people smuggling or enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya – slowly started retreating from the areas where most migrant boats crossed.

      Harassment and violent attacks by the Libyan Coast Guard against fishermen from Mazara also picked up pace, the fishermen say.

      Then, in 2017 Italy signed a memorandum of understanding with Libya to begin funding, training, and equipping the Libyan Coast Guard to reduce the number of asylum seekers and migrants reaching Europe; and Italy and the EU began pushing Libya to take control of the search and rescue zone off its coast.

      “The migration agreements were met with backlash from the Sicilian fishing sector,” Tommaso Macaddino, president of the Sicilian branch of the fishermen’s labour union UILA Pesca, told The New Humanitarian. “We already knew deputising the control of that area to Libyans would set a dangerous precedent, not only for migrants but also for Italians.”

      For Macaddino, the negotiating power the agreement gave Libya – and the trade-off Italy was prepared to make – seemed clear. “A larger portion of waters under the management of Libyans meant migrants in that area were less of a European responsibility,” he said. It also meant, Macaddino added, that – in order to keep its Libyan partners happy – the Italian government was less likely to challenge Libya’s claim to the disputed waters where Mazara’s fishermen work.

      In 2017 and 2018, the situation for civilians rescuing asylum seekers and migrants in the central Mediterranean took yet another turn for the worse. Several Italian prosecutors opened investigations into whether NGOs were cooperating with Libyan people smugglers to facilitate irregular migration. In the end, none of the investigations turned up evidence of collusion, but they helped create an atmosphere of public and political hostility towards civilian rescue efforts.

      Mazara’s fishermen – once celebrated as humanitarians – were now seen by many as part of the “migration problem”.

      After Matteo Salvini – a right-wing, anti-migrant politician – became interior minister in 2018, he closed Italy’s ports to NGO rescue ships and introduced hefty fines for civilian rescuers who ran afoul of increasingly stringent Italian guidelines as part of a broader crackdown on migration.

      For Pietro Marrone, a 62-year-old fisherman from Mazara who became a captain at age 24, the outright hostility was the last straw. “Instead of stepping back, it motivated many of us – well aware of the risks Libyan militia represent to any human being – to keep saving lives at sea,” Marrone told The New Humanitarian.

      Marrone decided to join the NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans as a captain for rescue missions. In March 2019, the rescue boat Marrone was piloting saved 49 people – all migrants from western Africa, and several of them children – who had been drifting off the coast of Lampedusa for two days. Italian authorities refused to give Marrone permission to bring the rescued people into an Italian port, saying they should be returned instead to Libya. He brought them ashore anyway.

      “I refused to obey a military order to leave them at sea. In the 1980s, I had a violent encounter with Libyan militias, [so I know that] no one is safe if taken back to Libya,” he said.

      Marrone was charged with facilitating illegal immigration and disobeying the military, and had his captain’s license revoked. The case against him was dismissed last December after Salvini’s immigration bills were amended by a new Italian government that entered office in September 2019. But NGOs continue to be investigated and prosecuted for participating in rescue activities.

      Out of 21 cases opened since 2017, none has gone to trial. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Italian authorities have impounded NGO search and rescue boats at least eight times, citing what they say are various technical and operational irregularities. The NGOs say it is just another way the Italian government is trying to criminalise rescue activities.

      “What’s the crime here?” Marrone asked. “Humanitarian missions keep being criminalised, and migrants [keep being] pushed back to a country that cannot guarantee their protection, in crowded detention centres.”
      Bearing witness

      Ilyesse Ben Thameur, 30, is the child of Tunisian immigrants to Mazara del Vallo. He is also one of the 18 fishermen who was captured last September and held in Libya for over 100 days.

      The detention centre where he was held was overcrowded and filthy. Many of the other people in the facility were migrants or Libyan intellectuals opposed to Haftar. Ben Thameur said he could hear their screams as they were tortured, and see the lingering marks of violence on their bodies. Like other fishermen from Mazara, when he was released, he returned to Sicily with physical and psychological wounds.

      “If even EU citizens like myself cannot be safe there, imagine what it must feel like for migrants who have no one backing them up.”

      While captive, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reassured Ben Thameur’s family that he was being kept “in safe and healthy conditions”. People in Mazara think the messaging was an attempt to hide the abuses taking place in a system they say Italy is complicit in supporting.

      “Our stories show that Libya, as a whole, is not a safe port for anybody,” Ben Thameur said. “If even EU citizens like myself cannot be safe there, imagine what it must feel like for migrants who have no one backing them up.”

      In May 2020, just a few months before he was captured, Ben Thameur helped save dozens of asylum seekers and migrants. He believes that if his crew wasn’t there, they might have been intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and taken back to detention centres in Libya.

      Having experienced detention in Libya, it bothers him that his government is helping to send thousands of people back to those conditions. Along with other fishermen from Mazara – and across Sicily – Ben Thameur hopes speaking up about his own experiences will help make a difference.

      “If they don’t believe migrants’ accounts, they will at least have to listen to EU citizens who experienced the same tortures,” he said. “Maybe our testimony showing that even Italians aren’t safe [in Libya] could somehow help change things.”


  • Brazil space institute director sacked in Amazon deforestation row | World news | The Guardian


    The director of Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) has been sacked in the midst of a controversy over its satellite data showing a rise in Amazon deforestation, which the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has called “lies”.

    Ricardo Galvão, who had defended the institute and criticised Bolsonaro’s attack, was dismissed on Friday after a meeting with the science and technology minister, Marcos Pontes.

    #brésil #déforestation #censure #statistiques #cartographie #images_satellites #manipulation

    • Brésil : Jair Bolsonaro licencie le directeur de l’institut divulguant les données sur la déforestation

      Ricardo Galvão était accusé par le président brésilien d’exagérer l’ampleur de la destruction de la forêt amazonienne pour faire le jeu des ONG.

      Il avait promis de tenir bon, mais, face à la fureur de Jair Bolsonaro, a fini par plier, quitte à aggraver la tragédie environnementale en cours au Brésil. Vendredi 2 août, à l’issue d’un entretien à Brasilia avec Marcos Pontes, son ministre de tutelle, à la tête des sciences et de la technologie, le directeur de l’Institut national de recherches spatiales (INPE), Ricardo Galvão, a annoncé son départ. « Mon propos sur le président a suscité de l’embarras, je serai donc exonéré de mes fonctions », a-t-il annoncé, évoquant une situation de « perte de confiance ».

      Le directeur de l’INPE, institut chargé, notamment, de divulguer les chiffres sur la déforestation amazonienne, était dans le viseur du chef de l’Etat depuis plusieurs semaines. Jair Bolsonaro a peu apprécié que l’organisme fasse état au grand jour de l’ampleur de la destruction de la forêt native brésilienne, divulguant mois après mois des données chaque fois plus effrayantes : 739 km2 de forêt détruits en mai, soit une hausse de 34 % par rapport au même mois l’année passée ou l’équivalent de deux terrains de football rasés chaque minute, puis 920 km2 en juin (+88 %) et encore 1 864 km2 en juillet (+212 %). « Un cauchemar », souffle une source au sein de l’Observatoire du climat, ONG environnementale brésilienne.

  • #Medhanie l’Erythréen est-il un redoutable passeur ou un migrant pris dans une erreur judiciaire ?

    « Ce n’est pas juste, je ne peux pas accepter une décision qui est aussi injuste. » La voix frêle de la jeune femme se brise en sanglots. Au téléphone depuis Khartoum, Seghen refuse d’admettre ce qui arrive à son frère cadet. « La vérité est claire, Medhanie est innocent, pourquoi les procureurs s’obstinent-ils ? » Cette question plane sur le tribunal de Palerme, en Sicile, depuis quatre mois. Qui est ce Medhanie aux cheveux crépus et au regard blême, présenté pour la troisième fois devant la justice italienne, mercredi 21 septembre ? Est-il Medhanie Yehdego Mered, le chef érythréen du réseau de passeurs de migrants désigné à ce jour comme le plus important d’Afrique du Nord, ou s’agit-il de Medhanie Tesfamariam Behre, un simple migrant érythréen arrêté par erreur ?


    #passeurs #asile #migrations #smugglers #réfugiés

    • Kafka in Sicily: New Evidence But No End for Refugee in Smuggler Trial

      After more than a year in jail despite extensive evidence of being a victim of mistaken identity, a man extradited from Sudan appeared before Italian judges for the 22nd time this week. Eric Reidy reveals new evidence showing he is a refugee not a smuggling kingpin.


    • Arrestato in Sudan, processato a Palermo. Scambio di persona o vittima dei servizi ?

      E’ ripreso, giusto il 3 ottobre scorso, in Corte di Assise a Palermo. il processo ad un giovane eritreo #Medhanie_Tesfamariam_Berhe, arrestato il 24 maggio dello scorso anno in Sudan, estradato in Italia il 7 giugno del 2016 e rinviato a giudizio qualche mese dopo con l’accusa di traffico di persone. Secondo la Procura di Palermo si tratterebbe di Medhane Yehdego Mered, ritenuto uno dei più grandi trafficanti di esseri umani sulla cosiddetta “rotta libico-subsahariana” e al centro di indagini condotte dalla stessa procura sui trafficanti coinvolti nella strage di Lampedusa del 2013.


    • Dall’Eritrea a Palermo per difendere il figlio: «In carcere c’è un innocente»

      Batte le mani sul petto e ripete che quell’uomo in carcere è suo figlio, un falegname e non un trafficante di uomini. Meaza Zerai Weldai è una mamma che ha intrapreso un viaggio lungo e faticoso per arrivare a Palermo dall’Eritrea e sottoporsi al test del Dna. Suo figlio, Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, è stato arrestato nel 2016 ed è accusato di avere guadagnato sulle traversate della speranza dall’Africa. Per le autorità inglesi e italiane il suo nome è Medhanie Yehdego Mered. “Mio figlio non c’entra nulla con gli sbarchi, nella foto diffusa per le ricerche non lo riconosco. Quello è un altro uomo”. (di Romina Marceca e Giada Lo Porto)


    • ’Not my brother’: Italian court told defendant is not Eritrean smuggler

      Relative of human trafficker Medhanie Yehdego Mered does not recognise detainee.

      An Eritrean man says his brother, believed one of the world’s most wanted people smugglers, remains free while another has been arrested in his place. Merhawi Yehdego Mered, 38, has testified before a judge in Palermo, via videolink from the Netherlands, saying the man facing trial in Sicily is not the notorious human trafficker Medhanie Yehdego Mered.

      Merhawi suggested that the suspect, who has now been in prison for two-and-a-half-years, is a victim of mistaken identity. “This is not my brother,” he said when seeing the detainee on camera.

      In June 2016 prosecutors in Palermo announced the capture in Khartoum of a 35-year-old Eritrean whom they alleged was Medhanie Yehdego Mered, AKA “the general”. He was suspected of being one of the most sought after human traffickers in the world, and he was extradited to Italy from Sudan with the help of the UK’s National Crime Agency.

      His arrest, after an investigation that spanned two continents and five countries, was presented to the press as a brilliant coup for the new anti-trafficking strategy.

      But since news of the arrest first broke there have been serious doubts over the man’s identity. Dozens of Mered’s alleged victims claim the wrong man is on trial. The man extradited also looks markedly different to photographs of Mered released by prosecutors before the arrest.

      Close friends and relatives of the detainee have told the authorities that the man arrested is 29-year-old Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, a refugee.

      Merhawi is the latest person to insist that the authorities have apprehended the wrong man. Last week, Lidya Tesfu, reportedly the trafficker’s wife, told the judge that the man in prison was not her husband. “I know you have placed my husband under investigation,” she said. “But the man on trial is not Mered.”

      Among the many factors that point to the innocence of the arrested man, including two DNA tests (one of them carried on the smuggler’s son) is a documentary by the Swedish broadcaster SVT in collaboration with the Guardian, which said Mered was living it up in Uganda while Berhe faced up to 15 years in jail.

      In July 2017 the New Yorker published an investigation based in part on a three-hour telephone interview with Mered. He told the magazine he was still at large and that he was in prison in a different country at the time of the Berhe’s arrest.

      Last week a lawyer requested that Berhe be released on bail and placed under house arrest. The judge rejected that request, fearing that Berhe could flee the country before the verdict.

      The NCA and Italian prosecutors declined to comment “until the conclusion of the court case’’.

      The growing impression is that the prosecutors are no longer concerned whether the man in custody is Mered, but are intent on demonstrating that they have apprehended a man involved in smuggling. “It now appears obvious that Berhe is neither a trafficker nor an intermediary,” Berhe’s lawyer, Michele Calantropo, told the Guardian.

      Berhe’s sister, Seghen Tesfamariam, said: “The trial is going unfairly. No matter what evidence the lawyer presents, they don’t want to accept it. The only way to sentence my brother for being Mered would be to fabricate the evidence.”

      According to Fulvio Vassallo, an expert on migration and asylum law, from the University of Palermo, this case is more than a story of mistaken identity. “This endless trial, carried out on the basis of contradictory evidence, is the proof that the entire strategy pursued by EU governments of hunting down smugglers through criminal proceedings as a way to keep immigration numbers down is failing.”


    • Asilo politico per Medhanie Tesfamariam Behre

      L’eritreo, rimasto in carcere per tre anni perché scambiato per il più spietato trafficante di uomini, il generale Medhanie Yedhego Mered, adesso è un rifugiato politico


      Medhanie a reçu l’asile, il est donc un homme libre et le besoin de protection de protection a été reconnu, pourquoi donc encore et toujours utiliser cette #photographie dans les nouvelles annonçant qu’il a obtenu l’asile ?

      Pourquoi encore une image d’un homme menotté et assimilé à un criminel ?
      #médias #journalisme #couverture #image #presse #criminalisation

    • À Palerme, un jury reconnaît une erreur d’identité sur le « boss » des passeurs

      Un Érythréen était accusé d’avoir dirigé un vaste réseau de trafiquants de migrants. Les enquêteurs l’ont en réalité confondu avec le véritable suspect.

      Un coup dur pour les enquêteurs. La cour d’assises de Palerme a reconnu vendredi une erreur d’identité dans l’affaire d’un Erythréen accusé d’avoir dirigé un vaste réseau de trafiquants de migrants. La cour a ordonné la libération immédiate de l’homme jugé, tout en assortissant sa décision d’une condamnation pour aide à l’immigration clandestine. Cette peine est couverte par ses plus de trois ans de détention préventive.

      Mais le jeune homme a en fait été conduit dans la soirée vers le centre de rétention de Caltanissetta, dans le centre de la Sicile, en vue d’une éventuelle expulsion, a annoncé son avocat, Me Michele Calantropo, qui a déposé une demande d’asile en son nom maintenant que son identité est établie.
      Des années d’enquête

      En juin 2016, les autorités italiennes avaient fièrement annoncé l’arrestation au Soudan et l’extradition en Italie de Medhanie Yehdego Mered, après des années d’enquête sur ces réseaux qui ont envoyé des centaines de milliers de migrants en Europe, et des milliers à la mort. Premier chef de réseau jugé en Italie, Mered est soupçonné en particulier d’avoir affrété le bateau dont le naufrage avait fait plus de 366 morts le 3 octobre 2013 devant l’île de Lampedusa.

      Mais, très vite, les témoignages ont afflué pour dire que l’homme arrêté n’était pas Mered mais Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, un réfugié érythréen échoué à Khartoum et n’ayant en commun avec l’homme recherché qu’un prénom relativement courant en Erythrée. Plusieurs enquêtes menées par des journalistes italien, américain et suédois ont établi que Behre avait été repéré au printemps 2016 par les enquêteurs parce qu’il avait flirté avec la femme de Mered sur Facebook et appelé un passeur en Libye pour avoir des nouvelles d’un cousin parti pour l’Europe.

      À cette époque, les enquêteurs avaient perdu la trace de Mered, arrêté fin 2015 à Dubaï pour détention de faux passeport. Libéré huit mois plus tard, il vit désormais en Ouganda, selon ces journalistes. Outre de multiples témoignages, la défense a fourni des photos de Mered n’ayant aucune ressemblance avec l’accusé ou encore une analyse ADN liant l’homme arrêté à la mère de Behre.
      Un réquisitoire aux airs d’aveu d’échec

      Mais l’accusation a maintenu le cap, assurant en particulier que les conversations enregistrées avec le passeur en Libye n’avaient rien d’innocent. Même si la cour n’a pas encore publié ses attendus, ce sont probablement ces conversations qui lui ont valu sa condamnation.

      Le 17 juin, le procureur Calogero Ferrara avait requis 14 ans de réclusion et 50 000 euros d’amende contre l’accusé, insistant sur le « mépris absolu » des passeurs pour la vie humaine. Mais ce réquisitoire léger était déjà un aveu d’échec : par comparaison, le Tunisien Khaled Bensalem, simple passeur ayant survécu au naufrage de Lampedusa, a pour sa part été condamné à 27 ans de prison, allégés à 18 ans parce qu’il avait accepté une procédure accélérée.

      Comme lui, les dizaines de « #scafisti » (passeurs des mers) détenus en Libye sont pour l’essentiel des petites mains. Les enquêteurs disposent pourtant d’un vaste arsenal juridique mis en place au cours des dernières décennies dans le cadre de la lutte antimafia : écoutes téléphoniques y compris à l’étranger, témoignages de repentis... Ils peuvent aussi s’appuyer sur le renseignement recueilli par les agences et polices d’Europe.