#chamseddine_bourassine

  • Traversées de la Méditerranée : quand la jeunesse tunisienne, désespérée, se jette à la mer (4/4)

    Depuis l’été 2018, de plus en plus d’embarcations partent de Tunisie pour traverser la mer Méditerranée. En face, l’Union européenne grince des dents. Pourtant, Tunis ne réagit pas, ou si peu. Déjà confronté à une crise économique et sociale majeure, le pays n’a pas - encore - fait de la crise migratoire une priorité. La Tunisie n’a toujours pas mis en place une politique nationale d’asile et il n’existe presqu’aucune structure d’aide pour les migrants. À l’instar des Africains subsahariens, la jeunesse tunisienne prend elle aussi - et de plus en plus souvent - le chemin de la mer pour atteindre l’Europe. Si la dictature a disparu, leurs espoirs d’une vie meilleure aussi.

    Miloud n’a pas l’air contrarié quand il évoque le sujet. « C’est comme ça », dit-il, fataliste. « Il est pêcheur, il connaît la mer ». Miloud, un chauffeur de taxi de Zarzis, dans le sud-est de la Tunisie, n’a pas cherché à retenir son petit frère quand il a pris la mer, un matin en direction de l’Europe. La Méditerranée est pourtant pernicieuse, imprévisible, « mais pour les pécheurs de Zarzis, elle ne fait pas peur », affirme le trentenaire en souriant.

    Depuis l’été 2018, de plus en plus de barques partent de Tunisie et de la région de #Zarzis, notamment, en direction de l’Italie. « Près de 50 canots en juillet et en août », affirme Chamseddine, un pêcheur de la région, assis à côté de Miloud, dans un café de la ville. Le projet paraît fou : sur ces minuscules canots à moteur, il faut naviguer plus de 20 heures avant d’atteindre les côtes siciliennes, « 25 heures, si le moteur n’est pas de bonne qualité », ajoute Miloud qui précise que son petit frère est arrivé sain et sauf en Italie. « Mais les jeunes ici n’ont peur de rien, ils n’ont pas peur de la mer ».

    Contrairement aux départs depuis la Libye, seule une poignée des candidats à la traversée sont des Africains subsahariens. « L’écrasante majorité, 90% environ, sont des Tunisiens », affirme Ben Amor Romdhane, le chargé de communication du Forum tunisien pour les droits économiques et sociaux (FTDES), une association qui vient en aide aux migrants, notamment. Selon l’Organisation internationale des migrations (OIM), près 5 000 Tunisiens ont en effet atteint l’Italie depuis le début de l’année. Ils représentent aujourd’hui la principale nationalité des arrivées dans la péninsule.

    Le profil de ces jeunes a souvent un même dénominateur commun : ils ont moins de 30 ans, et ils sont les premières victimes de la #crise_économique. Dans la région de Zarzis, écrasée par le soleil et le #chômage, Miloud, lui, fait un peu figure d’exception dans le paysage. « Je connais plein de Zarzisiens qui sont arrivés aujourd’hui en France, mais moi, mon activité de taxi marche bien. Je n’ai pas envie de traverser ».

    La mer attire aussi les diplômés sans emploi et les #travailleurs_pauvres

    Pour le FTDES, le gouvernement tunisien est en grande partie responsable de cette vague migratoire. Sept ans après la révolution, si la dictature a disparu, les espoirs d’une vie meilleure aussi.

    « Il n’y a aucun message d’optimisme de la classe politique », affirme Ben Amor Romdhane. « Le sentiment, c’est que l’école ne sert à rien, elle ne donne que des chômeurs ». Et ce sentiment a contribué à grossir inlassablement les rangs des candidats au départ vers l’Europe. « Si vous regardez ces jeunes, vous verrez qu’il y a parmi eux des étudiants qui ne trouvent pas de travail, des travailleurs avec des salaires bas. Ce n’est plus seulement les personnes les plus pauvres qui traversent ».

    Pour atteindre l’Europe, le petit frère de Miloud a embarqué avec 10 autres Tunisiens. Loin des grosses embarcations de plus de 100 personnes dont les médias ont diffusé d’innombrables clichés, les jeunes Tunisiens tentent, eux, la traversée sur des petits bateaux de 10 à 20 places. « Les passeurs achètent désormais des petits canots, avec des moteurs puissants. C’est plus discret et plus efficace », explique Ben Amor Romdhane.

    Parfois aussi, les jeunes partent sans passeur et préparent leur voyage de manière autonome, sans intermédiaire. Ils se cotisent, expliquent Miloud et Chamseddine. Un canot neuf avec moteur coûte environ 13 000 dinars (4 000 euros). Si chaque participant apporte 1 000 dinars (300 euros) – « c’est cher mais possible » – le départ a de grandes chances de prendre forme.

    De l’importance des #réseaux_sociaux

    Le rôle des réseaux sociaux est fondamental dans les incitations aux départs : « Les jeunes filment les traversées, les tentatives, il y a des groupes Facebook, des échanges entre jeunes, des partages de vidéos, d’images, de conseils. Les premiers encouragent les autres à partir », précise encore Ben Amor Romdhane.

    Combien de jeunes hommes et de jeunes femmes ont quitté les côtes tunisiennes depuis le début de l’année ? Difficile de savoir. Mais beaucoup atteignent les terres siciliennes, affirme Valentin Bonnefoy, un autre membre de l’association FTDES, coordinateur du département « Initiative pour une Justice Migratoire ». « Je pense que presqu’un Tunisien sur deux arrive en Italie sans se faire arrêter par les autorités italiennes. Nous recevons des témoignages en ce sens, des personnes qui ne sont pas interpellées, donc pas recensées dans les chiffres officiels ».

    Des drames arrivent aussi. Le 7 octobre, un Tunisien de 23 ans s’est noyé lors d’un #naufrage au large de Djerba. Le trajet dans de telles conditions est dangereux, rappellent les pêcheurs zarzisiens. « Il ne suffit pas de savoir naviguer, il faut savoir rester immobile sans bouger pendant des heures, les canots sont parfois de très mauvaise qualité, si quelqu’un se lève, il peut se renverser », explique Chamseddine. Il y a aussi des risques d’incendie. « Pour atteindre l’Italie avec de si petites embarcations, il faut caler 30 bidons d’essence à l’intérieur. Pour l’instant, il n’y a pas eu d’accident. Mais imaginez si quelqu’un allume une cigarette trop près… », ajoute de son coté Salaheddine, un autre pêcheur de Zarzis qui a déjà vu une quinzaine d’embarcations prendre le large cet été.

    Les appréhensions des pêcheurs de Zarzis

    Face aux départs, les autorités apportent une réponse sécuritaire. La surveillance des côtes a été renforcée, un complexe sécuritaire a vu le jour sur l’île de Kerkennah (dans la province de Sfax, au sud du pays), d’où partent aussi de nombreuses embarcations. « Mais le fond du problème reste le même, aucune politique n’est mis en place pour retenir les jeunes », déplore Ben Amor Romdhane de FTDES. « Pour le gouvernement, la priorité, ce sont les élections [présidentielles et législatives] de 2019 ».

    Les bateaux humanitaires, peu nombreux en mer, ne sont pas présents au large de la Tunisie pour secourir les éventuels naufragés. C’est souvent aux pêcheurs qu’incombe ce devoir malgré leurs craintes. « Nous apportons notre aide quand nous voyons des personnes en détresse, mais nous avons peur de la réaction des autorités », confesse Salaheddine. Depuis l’arrestation d’un de ses confrères, #Chamseddine_Bourassine, soupçonné d’être un passeur après avoir tracté une barque avec 14 migrants à bord en direction de Lampedusa, les pêcheurs de la région ont peur d’être assimilés à des trafiquants.

    « Souvent, les jeunes en difficulté, dans les eaux internationales, nous supplie de ne pas les ramener en Tunisie », explique Salaheddine qui a déjà secouru deux petites embarcations l’année dernière. « Ils veulent aller en Italie », et ils savent que la zone de pêche des Zarzisiens n’est pas loin de l’île italienne de Lampedusa. « C’est vraiment triste. Parfois, ces jeunes Tunisiens veulent tellement atteindre l’Europe qu’ils menacent de se faire du mal si nous les ramenons en Tunisie », conclut-il. « Et pourtant, je ne peux pas les emmener en Italie. Je ne peux pas leur faire cette promesse-là et aucun pêcheur de la région ne le pourra ».

    http://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/12954/traversees-de-la-mediterranee-quand-la-jeunesse-tunisienne-desesperee-
    #Tunisie #émigration #jeunesse #migrations #jeunes #migrants_tunisiens #Méditerranée #mourir_en_mer #décès #mort #sauvetage #pêcheurs

    Je mets en évidence ce passage :

    « Si vous regardez ces jeunes, vous verrez qu’il y a parmi eux des étudiants qui ne trouvent pas de travail, des travailleurs avec des salaires bas. Ce n’est plus seulement les personnes les plus pauvres qui traversent ».

    #pauvreté #développement

    ping @_kg_


  • Tunisian fishermen await trial after ’saving hundreds of migrants’

    Friends and colleagues have rallied to the defence of six Tunisian men awaiting trial in Italy on people smuggling charges, saying they are fishermen who have saved hundreds of migrants and refugees over the years who risked drowning in the Mediterranean.

    The men were arrested at sea at the weekend after their trawler released a small vessel it had been towing with 14 migrants onboard, 24 miles from the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

    Italian authorities said an aeroplane crew from the European border agency Frontex had first located the trawler almost 80 nautical miles from Lampedusa and decided to monitor the situation.They alerted the Italian police after the migrant vessel was released, who then arrested all crew members at sea.

    According to their lawyers, the Tunisians maintain that they saw a migrant vessel in distress and a common decision was made to tow it to safety in Italian waters. They claim they called the Italian coastguard so it could intervene and take them to shore.

    Prosecutors have accused the men of illegally escorting the boat into Italian waters and say they have no evidence of an SOS sent by either the migrant boat or by the fishermen’s vessel.

    Among those arrested were 45-year-old Chamseddine Ben Alì Bourassine, who is known in his native city, Zarzis, which lies close to the Libyan border, for saving migrants and bringing human remains caught in his nets back to shore to give the often anonymous dead a dignified burial.

    Immediately following the arrests, hundreds of Tunisians gathered in Zarzis to protest and the Tunisian Fishermen Association of Zarzis sent a letter to the Italian embassy in Tunis in support of the men.

    “Captain Bourassine and his crew are hardworking fishermen whose human values exceed the risks they face every day,” it said. “When we meet boats in distress at sea, we do not think about their colour or their religion.”

    According to his colleagues in Zarzis, Bourassine is an advocate for dissuading young Tunisians from illegal migration. In 2015 he participated in a sea rescue drill organised by Médecins Sans Frontières (Msf) in Zarzis.

    Giulia Bertoluzzi, an Italian filmmaker and journalist who directed the documentary Strange Fish, about Bourassine, said the men were well known in their home town.

    “In Zarzis, Bourassine and his crew are known as anonymous heroes”, Bertoluzzi told the Guardian. “Some time ago a petition was circulated to nominate him for the Nobel peace prize. He saved thousands of lives since.”

    The six Tunisians who are now being held in prison in the Sicilian town of Agrigento pending their trial. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.

    The Italian police said in a statement: “We acted according to our protocol. After the fishing boat released the vessel, it returned south of the Pelagie Islands where other fishing boats were active in an attempt to shield itself.”

    It is not the first time that Italian authorities have arrested fishermen and charged them with aiding illegal immigration. On 8 August 2007, police arrested two Tunisian fishermen for having guided into Italian waters 44 migrants. The trial lasted four years and both men were acquitted of all criminal charges.

    Leonardo Marino, a lawyer in Agrigento who had defended dozens of Tunisian fishermen accused of enabling smuggling, told the Guardian: “The truth is that migrants are perceived as enemies and instead of welcoming them we have decided to fight with repressive laws anyone who is trying to help them.”


    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/05/tunisian-fishermen-await-trial-after-saving-hundreds-of-migrants?CMP=sh
    #Tunisie #pêcheurs #solidarité #mourir_en_mer #sauvetage #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Méditerranée #pêcheurs_tunisiens #délit_de_solidarité
    Accusation: #smuggling #passeurs

    cc @_kg_

    • Commentaires de Charles Heller sur FB :

      Last year these Tunisian fishermen prevented the identitarian C-Star - chartered to prevent solidarity at sea - from docking in Zarzis. Now they have been arrested for exercising that solidarity.

      Back to the bad old days of criminalising Tunisian fishermen who rescue migrants at sea. Lets make some noise and express our support and solidarity in all imaginable ways!

    • Des pêcheurs tunisiens poursuivis pour avoir tracté des migrants jusqu’en Italie

      Surpris en train de tirer une embarcation de migrants vers l’Italie, des pêcheurs tunisiens -dont un militant connu localement- ont été écroués en Sicile. Une manifestation de soutien a eu lieu en Tunisie et une ONG essaie actuellement de leur venir en aide.

      Des citoyens tunisiens sont descendus dans la rue lundi 3 septembre à Zarzis, dans le sud du pays, pour protester contre l’arrestation, par les autorités italiennes, de six pêcheurs locaux. Ces derniers sont soupçonnés d’être des passeurs car ils ont été "surpris en train de tirer une barque avec 14 migrants à bord en direction de [l’île italienne de] Lampedusa", indique la police financière et douanière italienne.

      La contestation s’empare également des réseaux sociaux, notamment avec des messages publiés demandant la libération des six membres d’équipage parmi lesquels figurent Chamseddine Bourassine, président de l’association des pêcheurs de Zarzis. “Toute ma solidarité avec un militant et ami, le doyen des pêcheurs Chamseddine Bourassine. Nous appelons les autorités tunisiennes à intervenir immédiatement avec les autorités italiennes afin de le relâcher ainsi que son équipage”, a écrit lundi le jeune militant originaire de Zarzis Anis Belhiba sur Facebook. Une publication reprise et partagée par Chamesddine Marzoug, un pêcheur retraité et autre militant connu en Tunisie pour enterrer lui-même les corps des migrants rejetés par la mer.

      Sans nouvelles depuis quatre jours

      Un appel similaire a été lancé par le Forum tunisien pour les droits économiques et sociaux, par la voix de Romdhane Ben Amor, chargé de communication de cette ONG basée à Tunis. Contacté par InfoMigrants, il affirme n’avoir reçu aucune nouvelle des pêcheurs depuis près de quatre jours. “On ne sait pas comment ils vont. Tout ce que l’on sait c’est qu’ils sont encore incarcérés à Agrigente en Sicile. On essaie d’activer tous nos réseaux et de communiquer avec nos partenaires italiens pour leur fournir une assistance juridique”, explique-t-il.

      Les six pêcheurs ont été arrêtés le 29 août car leur bateau de pêche, qui tractait une embarcation de fortune avec 14 migrants à son bord, a été repéré -vidéo à l’appui- par un avion de Frontex, l’Agence européenne de garde-côtes et garde-frontières.

      Selon une source policière italienne citée par l’AFP, les pêcheurs ont été arrêtés pour “aide à l’immigration clandestine” et écroués. Le bateau a été repéré en train de tirer des migrants, puis de larguer la barque près des eaux italiennes, à moins de 24 milles de Lampedusa, indique la même source.

      Mais pour Romdhane Ben Amor, “la vidéo de Frontex ne prouve rien”. Et de poursuivre : “#Chamseddine_Bourassine, on le connaît bien. Il participe aux opérations de sauvetage en Méditerranée depuis 2008, il a aussi coordonné l’action contre le C-Star [navire anti-migrants affrété par des militant d’un groupe d’extrême droite]”. Selon Romdhane Ben Amor, il est fort probable que le pêcheur ait reçu l’appel de détresse des migrants, qu’il ait ensuite tenté de les convaincre de faire demi-tour et de regagner la Tunisie. N’y parvenant pas, le pêcheur aurait alors remorqué l’embarcation vers l’Italie, la météo se faisant de plus en plus menaçante.

      La Tunisie, pays d’origine le plus représenté en Italie

      Un nombre croissant de Tunisiens en quête d’emploi et de perspectives d’avenir tentent de se rendre illégalement en Italie via la Méditerranée. D’ailleurs, avec 3 300 migrants arrivés entre janvier et juillet 2018, la Tunisie est le pays d’origine le plus représenté en Italie, selon un rapport du Haut commissariat de l’ONU aux réfugiés (HCR) publié lundi.

      La Méditerranée a été "plus mortelle que jamais" début 2018, indique également le HCR, estimant qu’une personne sur 18 tentant la traversée meurt ou disparaît en mer.


      http://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/11752/des-pecheurs-tunisiens-poursuivis-pour-avoir-tracte-des-migrants-jusqu

    • Note de Catherine Teule :

      Cela rappelle le procès ( à Agrigente déjà) de 7 pêcheurs tunisiens en 2007.... ( voir les archives de Migreurop )

      Et aussi les procès contres les pêcheurs à #Mazara_del_vallo, en Italie, v. livre de Gabriele Del Grande

    • Lampedusa, in cella ad Agrigento il pescatore tunisino che salva i migranti

      Insieme al suo equipaggio #Chameseddine_Bourassine è accusato di favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione illegale. La Tunisia chiede il rilascio dei sei arrestati. L’appello per la liberazione del figlio di uno dei pescatori e del fratello di Bourassine

      Per la Tunisia Chameseddine Bourassine è il pescatore che salva i migranti. Protagonista anche del film documentario «Strange Fish» di Giulia Bertoluzzi. Dal 29 agosto Chameseddine e il suo equipaggio sono nel carcere di Agrigento, perchè filmati mentre trainavano un barchino con 14 migranti fino a 24 miglia da Lampedusa. Il peschereccio è stato sequestrato e rischiano molti anni di carcere per favoreggiamento aggravato dell’immigrazione illegale. Da Palermo alcuni parenti giunti da Parigi lanciano un appello per la loro liberazione.

      Ramzi Lihiba, figlio di uno dei pescatori arrestati: «Mio padre è scioccato perchè è la prima volta che ha guai con la giustizia. Mi ha detto che hanno incontrato una barca in pericolo e hanno fatto solo il loro dovere. Non è la prima volta. Chameseddine ha fatto centinaia di salvataggi, portando la gente verso la costa più vicina. Prima ha chiamato la guardia costiera di Lampedusa e di Malta senza avere risposta».

      Mohamed Bourassine, fratello di Chameseddine: «Chameseddine l’ha detto anche alla guardia costiera italiana, se trovassi altre persone in pericolo in mare, lo rifarei».
      La Tunisia ha chiesto il rilascio dei sei pescatori di Zarzis. Sit in per loro davanti alle ambasciate italiane di Tunisi e Parigi. Da anni i pescatori delle due sponde soccorrono migranti con molti rischi. Ramzi Lihiba: «Anche io ho fatto la traversata nel 2008 e sono stato salvato dai pescatori italiani, altrimenti non sarei qui oggi».

      https://www.rainews.it/tgr/sicilia/video/2018/09/sic-lampedusa-carcere-pescatore-tunisino-salva-migranti-8f4b62a7-b103-48c0-8

    • Posté par Charles Heller sur FB :

      Yesterday, people demonstrated in the streets of Zarzis in solidarity with the Tunisian fishermen arrested by Italian authorities for exercising their solidarity with migrants crossing the sea. Tomorrow, they will be heard in front of a court in Sicily. While rescue NGOs have done an extraordinary job, its important to underline that European citizens do not have the monopoly over solidarity with migrants, and neither are they the only ones being criminalised. The Tunisian fishermen deserve our full support.


      https://www.facebook.com/charles.heller.507/posts/2207659576116549

    • I pescatori, eroi di Zarzis, in galera

      Il 29 agosto 2018 sei pescatori tunisini sono stati arrestati ad Agrigento, accusati di favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione clandestina, reato punibile fino a quindici anni di carcere. Il loro racconto e quello dei migranti soccorsi parla invece di una barca in panne che prendeva acqua, del tentativo di contattare la Guardia Costiera italiana e infine - dopo una lunga attesa – del trasporto del barchino verso Lampedusa, per aiutare le autorità nelle operazioni di soccorso. Mentre le indagini preliminari sono in corso, vi raccontiamo chi sono questi pescatori. Lo facciamo con Giulia Bertoluzzi, che ha girato il film “Strange Fish” – vincitore al premio BNP e menzione speciale della giuria al festival Visioni dal Mondo - di cui Bourassine è il protagonista, e Valentina Zagaria, che ha vissuto oltre due anni a Zarzis per un dottorato in antropologia.

      Capitano, presidente, eroe. Ecco tre appellativi che potrebbero stare a pennello a Chamseddine Bourassine, presidente della Rete Nazionale della Pesca Artigianale nonché dell’associazione di Zarzis “Le Pêcheur” pour le Développement et l’Environnement, nominata al Premio Nobel per la Pace 2018 per il continuo impegno nel salvare vite nel Mediterraneo. I pescatori di Zarzis infatti, lavorando nel mare aperto tra la Libia e la Sicilia, si trovano da più di quindici anni in prima linea nei soccorsi a causa della graduale chiusura ermetica delle vie legali per l’Europa, che ha avuto come conseguenza l’inizio di traversate con mezzi sempre più di fortuna.
      I frutti della rivoluzione

      Sebbene la legge del mare abbia sempre prevalso per Chamseddine e i pescatori di Zarzis, prima della rivoluzione tunisina del 2011 i pescatori venivano continuamente minacciati dalla polizia del regime di Ben Ali, stretto collaboratore sia dell’Italia che dell’Unione europea in materia di controlli alle frontiere. “Ci dicevano di lasciarli in mare e che ci avrebbero messo tutti in prigione”, spiegava Bourassine, “ma un uomo in mare è un uomo morto, e alla polizia abbiamo sempre risposto che piuttosto saremmo andati in prigione”. In prigione finivano anche i cittadini tunisini che tentavano la traversata e che venivano duramente puniti dal loro stesso governo.

      Tutto è cambiato con la rivoluzione. Oltre 25.000 tunisini si erano imbarcati verso l’Italia, di cui tanti proprio dalle coste di Zarzis. “Non c’erano più né stato né polizia, era il caos assoluto” ricorda Anis Souei, segretario generale dell’Associazione. Alcuni pescatori non lasciavano le barche nemmeno di notte perché avevano paura che venissero rubate, i più indebitati invece tentavano di venderle, mentre alcuni abitanti di Zarzis, approfittando del vuoto di potere, si improvvisavano ‘agenti di viaggi’, cercando di fare affari sulle spalle degli harraga – parola nel dialetto arabo nord africano per le persone che ‘bruciano’ passaporti e frontiera attraversando il Mediterraneo. Chamseddine Bourassine e i suoi colleghi, invece, hanno stretto un patto morale, stabilendo di non vendere le proprie barche per la harga. Si sono rimboccati le maniche e hanno fondato un’associazione per migliorare le condizioni di lavoro del settore, per sensibilizzare sulla preservazione dell’ambiente – condizione imprescindibile per la pesca – e dare una possibilità di futuro ai giovani.

      E proprio verso i più giovani, quelli che più continuano a soffrire dell’alto tasso di disoccupazione, l’associazione ha dedicato diverse campagne di sensibilizzazione. “Andiamo nelle scuole per raccontare quello che vediamo e mostriamo ai ragazzi le foto dei corpi che troviamo in mare, perché si rendano conto del reale pericolo della traversata”, racconta Anis. Inoltre hanno organizzato formazioni di meccanica, riparazione delle reti e pesca subacquea, collaborando anche con diversi progetti internazionali, come NEMO, organizzato dal CIHEAM-Bari e finanziato dalla Cooperazione Italiana. Proprio all’interno di questo progetto è nato il museo di Zarzis della pesca artigianale, dove tra nodi e anforette per la pesca del polipo, c’è una mostra fotografica dei salvataggi in mare intitolata “Gli eroi anonimi di Zarzis”.

      La guerra civile libica

      Con l’inasprirsi della guerra civile libica e l’inizio di veri e propri traffici di esseri umani, le frontiere marittime si sono trasformate in zone al di fuori della legge.
      “I pescatori tunisini vengono regolarmente rapiti dalle milizie o dalle autorità libiche” diceva Bourassine. Queste, una volta sequestrata la barca e rubato il materiale tecnico, chiedevano alle autorità tunisine un riscatto per il rilascio, cosa peraltro successa anche a pescatori siciliani. Sebbene le acque di fronte alla Libia siano le più ricche, soprattutto per il gambero rosso, e per anni siano state zone di pesca per siciliani, tunisini, libici e anche egiziani, ad oggi i pescatori di Zarzis si sono visti obbligati a lasciare l’eldorado dei tonni rossi e dei gamberi rossi, per andare più a ovest.

      “Io pesco nelle zone della rotta delle migrazioni, quindi è possibile che veda migranti ogni volta che esco” diceva Bourassine, indicando sul monitor della sala comandi del suo peschereccio l’est di Lampedusa, durante le riprese del film.

      Con scarso sostegno delle guardie costiere tunisine, a cui non era permesso operare oltre le proprie acque territoriali, i pescatori per anni si sono barcamenati tra il lavoro e la responsabilità di soccorrere le persone in difficoltà che, con l’avanzare del conflitto in Libia, partivano su imbarcazioni sempre più pericolose.

      “Ma quando in mare vedi 100 o 120 persone cosa fai?” si chiede Slaheddine Mcharek, anche lui membro dell’Associazione, “pensi solo a salvare loro la vita, ma non è facile”. Chi ha visto un’operazione di soccorso in mare infatti può immaginare i pericoli di organizzare un trasbordo su un piccolo peschereccio che non metta a repentaglio la stabilità della barca, soprattutto quando ci sono persone che non sanno nuotare. Allo stesso tempo non pescare significa non lavorare e perdere soldi sia per il capitano che per l’equipaggio.
      ONG e salvataggio

      Quando nell’estate del 2015 le navi di ricerca e soccorso delle ONG hanno cominciato ad operare nel Mediterraneo, Chamseddine e tutti i pescatori si sono sentiti sollevati, perché le loro barche non erano attrezzate per centinaia di persone e le autorità tunisine post-rivoluzionarie non avevano i mezzi per aiutarli. Quell’estate, l’allora direttore di Medici Senza Frontiere Foued Gammoudi organizzò una formazione di primo soccorso in mare per sostenere i pescatori. Dopo questa formazione MSF fornì all’associazione kit di pronto soccorso, giubbotti e zattere di salvataggio per poter assistere meglio i rifugiati in mare. L’ONG ha anche dato ai pescatori le traduzioni in italiano e inglese dei messaggi di soccorso e di tutti i numeri collegati al Centro di coordinamento per il soccorso marittimo (MRCC) a Roma, che coordina i salvataggi tra le imbarcazioni nei paraggi pronte ad intervenire, fossero mercantili, navi delle ONG, imbarcazioni militari o della guardia costiera, e quelle dei pescatori di entrambe le sponde del mare. Da quel momento i pescatori potevano coordinarsi a livello internazionale e aspettare che le navi più grandi arrivassero, per poi riprendere il loro lavoro. Solo una settimana dopo la formazione, Gammoudi andò a congratularsi con Chamseddine al porto di Zarzis per aver collaborato con la nave Bourbon-Argos di MSF nel salvataggio di 550 persone.

      Oltre al primo soccorso, MSF ha offerto ai membri dell’associazione una formazione sulla gestione dei cadaveri, fornendo sacchi mortuari, disinfettanti e guanti. C’è stato un periodo durato vari mesi, prima dell’arrivo delle ONG, in cui i pescatori avevano quasi la certezza di vedere dei morti in mare. Nell’assenza di altre imbarcazioni in prossimità della Libia, pronte ad aiutare barche in difficoltà, i naufragi non facevano che aumentare. Proprio come sta succedendo in queste settimane, durante le quali il tasso di mortalità in proporzione agli arrivi in Italia è cresciuto del 5,6%. Dal 26 agosto, nessuna ONG ha operato in SAR libica, e questo a causa delle politiche anti-migranti di Salvini e dei suoi omologhi europei.

      Criminalizzazione della solidarietà

      La situazione però è peggiorata di nuovo nell’estate del 2017, quando l’allora ministro dell’Interno Marco Minniti stringeva accordi con le milizie e la guardia costiera libica per bloccare i rifugiati nei centri di detenzione in Libia, mentre approvava leggi che criminalizzano e limitano l’attività delle ONG in Italia.

      Le campagne di diffamazione contro atti di solidarietà e contro le ONG non hanno fatto altro che versare ancora più benzina sui sentimenti anti-immigrazione che infiammano l’Europa. Nel bel mezzo di questo clima, il 6 agosto 2017, i pescatori di Zarzis si erano trovati in un faccia a faccia con la nave noleggiata da Generazione Identitaria, la C-Star, che attraversava il Mediterraneo per ostacolare le operazioni di soccorso e riportare i migranti in Africa.

      Armati di pennarelli rossi, neri e blu, hanno appeso striscioni sulle barche in una mescolanza di arabo, italiano, francese e inglese: “No Racists!”, “Dégage!”, “C-Star: No gasolio? No acqua? No mangiaro?“.

      Chamseddine Bourassine, con pesanti occhiaie da cinque giorni di lavoro in mare, appena appresa la notizia ha organizzato un sit-in con tanto di media internazionali al porto di Zarzis. I loro sforzi erano stati incoraggiati dalle reti antirazziste in Sicilia, che a loro volta avevano impedito alla C-Star di attraccare nel porto di Catania solo un paio di giorni prima.
      La reazione tunisina dopo l’arresto di Bourassine

      Non c’è quindi da sorprendersi se dopo l’arresto di Chamseddine, Salem, Farhat, Lotfi, Ammar e Bachir l’associazione, le famiglie, gli amici e i colleghi hanno riempito tre pullman da Zarzis per protestare davanti all’ambasciata italiana di Tunisi. La Terre Pour Tous, associazione di famiglie di tunisini dispersi, e il Forum economico e sociale (FTDES) si sono uniti alla protesta per chiedere l’immediato rilascio dei pescatori. Una protesta gemella è stata organizzata anche dalla diaspora di Zarzis davanti all’ambasciata italiana a Parigi, mentre reti di pescatori provenienti dal Marocco e dalla Mauritania hanno rilasciato dichiarazioni di sostegno. Il Segretario di Stato tunisino per l’immigrazione, Adel Jarboui, ha esortato le autorità italiane a liberare i pescatori.

      Nel frattempo Bourassine racconta dalla prigione al fratello: “stavo solo aiutando delle persone in difficoltà in mare. Lo rifarei”.


      http://openmigration.org/analisi/i-pescatori-eroi-di-zarzis-in-galera

    • When rescue at sea becomes a crime: who the Tunisian fishermen arrested in Italy really are

      Fishermen networks from Morocco and Mauritania have released statements of support, and the Tunisian State Secretary for Immigration, Adel Jarboui, urged Italian authorities to release the fishermen, considered heroes in Tunisia.

      On the night of Wednesday, August 29, 2018, six Tunisian fishermen were arrested in Italy. Earlier that day, they had set off from their hometown of Zarzis, the last important Tunisian port before Libya, to cast their nets in the open sea between North Africa and Sicily. The fishermen then sighted a small vessel whose engine had broken, and that had started taking in water. After giving the fourteen passengers water, milk and bread – which the fishermen carry in abundance, knowing they might encounter refugee boats in distress – they tried making contact with the Italian coastguard.

      After hours of waiting for a response, though, the men decided to tow the smaller boat in the direction of Lampedusa – Italy’s southernmost island, to help Italian authorities in their rescue operations. At around 24 miles from Lampedusa, the Guardia di Finanza (customs police) took the fourteen people on board, and then proceeded to violently arrest the six fishermen. According to the precautionary custody order issued by the judge in Agrigento (Sicily), the men stand accused of smuggling, a crime that could get them up to fifteen years in jail if the case goes to trial. The fishermen have since been held in Agrigento prison, and their boat has been seized.

      This arrest comes after a summer of Italian politicians closing their ports to NGO rescue boats, and only a week after far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini[1] prevented for ten days the disembarkation of 177 Eritrean and Somali asylum seekers from the Italian coastguard ship Diciotti. It is yet another step towards dissuading anyone – be it Italian or Tunisian citizens, NGO or coastguard ships – from coming to the aid of refugee boats in danger at sea. Criminalising rescue, a process that has been pushed by different Italian governments since 2016, will continue to have tragic consequences for people on the move in the Mediterranean Sea.
      The fishermen of Zarzis

      Among those arrested is Chamseddine Bourassine, the president of the Association “Le Pêcheur” pour le Développement et l’Environnement, which was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year for the Zarzis fishermen’s continuous engagement in saving lives in the Mediterranean.

      Chamseddine, a fishing boat captain in his mid-40s, was one of the first people I met in Zarzis when, in the summer of 2015, I moved to this southern Tunisian town to start fieldwork for my PhD. On a sleepy late-August afternoon, my interview with Foued Gammoudi, the then Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Head of Mission for Tunisia and Libya, was interrupted by an urgent phone call. “The fishermen have just returned, they saved 550 people, let’s go to the port to thank them.” Just a week earlier, Chamseddine Bourassine had been among the 116 fishermen from Zarzis to have received rescue at sea training with MSF. Gammoudi was proud that the fishermen had already started collaborating with the MSF Bourbon Argos ship to save hundreds of people. We hurried to the port to greet Chamseddine and his crew, as they returned from a three-day fishing expedition which involved, as it so often had done lately, a lives-saving operation.

      The fishermen of Zarzis have been on the frontline of rescue in the Central Mediterranean for over fifteen years. Their fishing grounds lying between Libya – the place from which most people making their way undocumented to Europe leave – and Sicily, they were often the first to come to the aid of refugee boats in distress. “The fishermen have never really had a choice: they work here, they encounter refugee boats regularly, so over the years they learnt to do rescue at sea”, explained Gammoudi. For years, fishermen from both sides of the Mediterranean were virtually alone in this endeavour.
      Rescue before and after the revolution

      Before the Tunisian revolution of 2011, Ben Ali threatened the fishermen with imprisonment for helping migrants in danger at sea – the regime having been a close collaborator of both Italy and the European Union in border control matters. During that time, Tunisian nationals attempting to do the harga – the North African Arabic dialect term for the crossing of the Sicilian Channel by boat – were also heavily sanctioned by their own government.

      Everything changed though with the revolution. “It was chaos here in 2011. You cannot imagine what the word chaos means if you didn’t live it”, recalled Anis Souei, the secretary general of the “Le Pêcheur” association. In the months following the revolution, hundreds of boats left from Zarzis taking Tunisians from all over the country to Lampedusa. Several members of the fishermen’s association remember having to sleep on their fishing boats at night to prevent them from being stolen for the harga. Other fishermen instead, especially those who were indebted, decided to sell their boats, while some inhabitants of Zarzis took advantage of the power vacuum left by the revolution and made considerable profit by organising harga crossings. “At that time there was no police, no state, and even more misery. If you wanted Lampedusa, you could have it”, rationalised another fisherman. But Chamseddine Bourassine and his colleagues saw no future in moving to Europe, and made a moral pact not to sell their boats for migration.

      They instead remained in Zarzis, and in 2013 founded their association to create a network of support to ameliorate the working conditions of small and artisanal fisheries. The priority when they started organising was to try and secure basic social security – something they are still struggling to sustain today. With time, though, the association also got involved in alerting the youth to the dangers of boat migration, as they regularly witnessed the risks involved and felt compelled to do something for younger generations hit hard by staggering unemployment rates. In this optic, they organised training for the local youth in boat mechanics, nets mending, and diving, and collaborated in different international projects, such as NEMO, organised by the CIHEAM-Bari and funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directorate General for Cooperation Development. This project also helped the fishermen build a museum to explain traditional fishing methods, the first floor of which is dedicated to pictures and citations from the fishermen’s long-term voluntary involvement in coming to the rescue of refugees in danger at sea.

      This role was proving increasingly vital as the Libyan civil war dragged on, since refugees were being forced onto boats in Libya that were not fit for travel, making the journey even more hazardous. With little support from Tunisian coastguards, who were not allowed to operate beyond Tunisian waters, the fishermen juggled their responsibility to bring money home to their families and their commitment to rescuing people in distress at sea. Anis remembers that once in 2013, three fishermen boats were out and received an SOS from a vessel carrying roughly one hundred people. It was their first day out, and going back to Zarzis would have meant losing petrol money and precious days of work, which they simply couldn’t afford. After having ensured that nobody was ill, the three boats took twenty people on board each, and continued working for another two days, sharing food and water with their guests.

      Sometimes, though, the situation on board got tense with so many people, food wasn’t enough for everybody, and fights broke out. Some fishermen recall incidents during which they truly feared for their safety, when occasionally they came across boats with armed men from Libyan militias. It was hard for them to provide medical assistance as well. Once a woman gave birth on Chamseddine’s boat – that same boat that has now been seized in Italy – thankfully there had been no complications.
      NGO ships and the criminalisation of rescue

      During the summer of 2015, therefore, Chamseddine felt relieved that NGO search and rescue boats were starting to operate in the Mediterranean. The fishermen’s boats were not equipped to take hundreds of people on board, and the post-revolutionary Tunisian authorities didn’t have the means to support them. MSF had provided the association with first aid kits, life jackets, and rescue rafts to be able to better assist refugees at sea, and had given them a list of channels and numbers linked to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome for when they encountered boats in distress.

      They also offered training in dead body management, and provided the association with body bags, disinfectant and gloves. “When we see people at sea we rescue them. It’s not only because we follow the laws of the sea or of religion: we do it because it’s human”, said Chamseddine. But sometimes rescue came too late, and bringing the dead back to shore was all the fishermen could do.[2] During 2015 the fishermen at least felt that with more ships in the Mediterranean doing rescue, the duty dear to all seafarers of helping people in need at sea didn’t only fall on their shoulders, and they could go back to their fishing.

      The situation deteriorated again though in the summer of 2017, as Italian Interior Minister Minniti struck deals with Libyan militias and coastguards to bring back and detain refugees in detention centres in Libya, while simultaneously passing laws criminalising and restricting the activity of NGO rescue boats in Italy.

      Media smear campaigns directed against acts of solidarity with migrants and refugees and against the work of rescue vessels in the Mediterranean poured even more fuel on already inflamed anti-immigration sentiments in Europe.

      In the midst of this, on 6 August 2017, the fishermen of Zarzis came face to face with a far-right vessel rented by Generazione Identitaria, the C-Star, cruising the Mediterranean allegedly on a “Defend Europe” mission to hamper rescue operations and bring migrants back to Africa. The C-Star was hovering in front of Zarzis port, and although it had not officially asked port authorities whether it could dock to refuel – which the port authorities assured locals it would refuse – the fishermen of Zarzis took the opportunity to let these alt-right groups know how they felt about their mission.

      Armed with red, black and blue felt tip pens, they wrote in a mixture of Arabic, Italian, French and English slogans such as “No Racists!”, “Dégage!” (Get our of here!), “C-Star: No gasoil? No acqua? No mangiato?” ?” (C-Star: No fuel? No water? Not eaten?), which they proceeded to hang on their boats, ready to take to sea were the C-Star to approach. Chamseddine Bourassine, who had returned just a couple of hours prior to the impending C-Star arrival from five days of work at sea, called other members of the fishermen association to come to the port and join in the peaceful protest.[3] He told the journalists present that the fishermen opposed wholeheartedly the racism propagated by the C-Star members, and that having seen the death of fellow Africans at sea, they couldn’t but condemn these politics. Their efforts were cheered on by anti-racist networks in Sicily, who had in turn prevented the C-Star from docking in Catania port just a couple of days earlier.

      It is members from these same networks in Sicily together with friends of the fishermen in Tunisia and internationally that are now engaged in finding lawyers for Chamseddine and his five colleagues.

      Their counterparts in Tunisia joined the fishermen’s families and friends on Thursday morning to protest in front of the Italian embassy in Tunis. Three busloads arrived from Zarzis after an 8-hour night-time journey for the occasion, and many others had come from other Tunisian towns to show their solidarity. Gathered there too were members of La Terre Pour Tous, an association of families of missing Tunisian migrants, who joined in to demand the immediate release of the fishermen. A sister protest was organised by the Zarzis diaspora in front of the Italian embassy in Paris on Saturday afternoon. Fishermen networks from Morocco and Mauritania also released statements of support, and the Tunisian State Secretary for Immigration Adel Jarboui urged Italian authorities to release the fishermen, who are considered heroes in Tunisia.

      The fishermen’s arrest is the latest in a chain of actions taken by the Italian Lega and Five Star government to further criminalise rescue in the Mediterranean Sea, and to dissuade people from all acts of solidarity and basic compliance with international norms. This has alarmingly resulted in the number of deaths in 2018 increasing exponentially despite a drop in arrivals to Italy’s southern shores. While Chamseddine’s lawyer hasn’t yet been able to visit him in prison, his brother and cousin managed to go see him on Saturday. As for telling them about what happened on August 29, Chamseddine simply says that he was assisting people in distress at sea: he’d do it again.

      https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/valentina-zagaria/when-rescue-at-sea-becomes-crime-who-tunisian-fishermen-arrested-in-i

    • Les pêcheurs de Zarzis, ces héros que l’Italie préfère voir en prison

      Leurs noms ont été proposés pour le prix Nobel de la paix mais ils risquent jusqu’à quinze ans de prison : six pêcheurs tunisiens se retrouvent dans le collimateur des autorités italiennes pour avoir aidé des migrants en Méditerranée.

      https://www.middleeasteye.net/fr/reportages/les-p-cheurs-de-zarzis-ces-h-ros-que-l-italie-pr-f-re-voir-en-prison-

    • Les pêcheurs tunisiens incarcérés depuis fin août en Sicile sont libres

      Arrêtés après avoir tracté une embarcation de quatorze migrants jusqu’au large de Lampedusa, un capitaine tunisien et son équipage sont soupçonnés d’être des passeurs. Alors qu’en Tunisie, ils sont salués comme des sauveurs.

      Les six pêcheurs ont pu reprendre la mer afin de regagner Zarzis, dans le sud tunisien. Les familles n’ont pas caché leur soulagement. Un accueil triomphal, par des dizaines de bateaux au large du port, va être organisé, afin de saluer le courage de ces sauveteurs de migrants à la dérive.

      Et peu importe si l’acte est dénoncé par l’Italie. Leurs amis et collègues ne changeront pas leurs habitudes de secourir toute embarcation en danger.

      A l’image de Rya, la cinquantaine, marin pêcheur à Zarzis qui a déjà sauvé des migrants en perdition et ne s’arrêtera pas : « Il y a des immigrés, tous les jours il y en a. De Libye, de partout. Nous on est des pêcheurs, on essaie de sauver les gens. C’est tout, c’est très simple. Nous on ne va pas s’arrêter, on va sauver d’autres personnes. Ils vont nous mettre en prison, on est là, pas de problème. »

      Au-delà du soulagement de voir rentrer les marins au pays, des voix s’élèvent pour crier leur incompréhension. Pour Halima Aissa, présidente de l’Association de recherche des disparus tunisiens à l’étranger, l’action de ce capitaine de pêche ne souffre d’aucune légitimité : « C’est un pêcheur tunisien, mais en tant qu’humaniste, si on trouve des gens qui vont couler en mer, notre droit c’est de les sauver. C’est inhumain de voir des gens mourir et de ne pas les sauver, ça c’est criminel. »

      Ces arrestations, certes suivies de libérations, illustrent pourtant la politique du nouveau gouvernement italien, à en croire Romdhane Ben Amor, du Forum tunisien des droits économiques et sociaux qui s’inquiète de cette nouvelle orientation politique : « Ça a commencé par les ONG qui font des opérations de sauvetage dans la Méditerranée et maintenant ça va vers les pêcheurs. C’est un message pour tous ceux qui vont participer aux opérations de sauvetage. Donc on aura plus de danger dans la mer, plus de tragédie dans la mer. » Pendant ce temps, l’enquête devrait se poursuivre encore plusieurs semaines en Italie.

      ■ Dénoncés par Frontex

      Détenus dans une prison d’Agrigente depuis le 29 août, les six pêcheurs tunisiens qui étaient soupçonnés d’aide à l’immigration illégale ont retrouvé leur liberté grâce à la décision du tribunal de réexamen de Palerme. L’équivalent italien du juge des libertés dans le système français.

      Le commandant du bateau de pêche, Chamseddine Bourassine, président de l’association des pêcheurs de Zarzis, ville du sud de la Tunisie, avait été arrêté avec les 5 membres d’équipage pour avoir secouru au large de l’île de Lampedusa une embarcation transportant 14 migrants.

      C’est un #avion_de_reconnaissance, opérant pour l’agence européenne #Frontex, qui avait repéré leur bateau tractant une barque et averti les autorités italiennes, précise notre correspondante à Rome, Anne Le Nir.

      http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20180923-pecheurs-tunisiens-incarceres-depuis-fin-aout-sicile-sont-libres

    • A Zarzis, les pêcheurs sauveurs de migrants menacés par l’Italie

      Après l’arrestation le 29 août de six pêcheurs tunisiens à Lampedusa, accusés d’être des passeurs alors qu’ils avaient secouru des migrants, les marins de la petite ville de Zarzis au sud de la Tunisie ont peur des conséquences du sauvetage en mer.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/121118/zarzis-les-pecheurs-sauveurs-de-migrants-menaces-par-l-italie