Tag Archives: ex Moi

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Buba remembers Libya: “Better to die than stay in Ziltan prison”

As soon as you enter Libya you realize at once that everything is just money, even the lives of Africans. If you have enough money to bribe the police they let you go through, otherwise they take you into a storehouse or a garage and beat you up. If you have someone who can send you money you have to hang on just long enough to receive the money transfer, but if there’s nobody who can help you, well, you just have to hope that they will get tired of torturing you before you die, and then at times they let you go.

Other times they transfer you to the prison at Zlitan and in that case perhaps it would be better to die. Everyone knows Zlitan in Libya, Zlitan means fear. Anybody who rebels or tries to get away is savagely punished. Sometimes they hang you up head down and beat you with rods, as if you were a sack, or you are strapped to a table and they whip the soles of your feet. At first it is only painful, but then if they go on too long you stop being human, your eyes glaze over and you forget that you are alive.

When I left Libya I didn’t shed a single tear. There were fifteen of us on that boat, there was a pregnant woman and a child. Then the sea became black, the boat overturned and everything we knew was of no use to us. The sea doesn’t understand things of the land, your clothes and shoes become heavy and pull you down. Only eight of us got to Lampedusa, and all naked. I never knew what the woman was called, and I never will.

I now live in Turin in the occupied ex-Ministry of the Interior houses. Italy is not like Libya, although even here the lives of Africans are not worth much.

In Italy they take your fingerprints and they give you a number. They call you a refugee, they give you a piece of paper and shut you up in a reception centre. Then the centre closes and you are out on the street – the project is finished – and you discover that “international protection” is just two words put together.

Buba is 30 and comes from Gambia. In March, 2013, he took part in Turin together with a hundred refugees like him in occupying the ex-MOI (ex-General Fruit and Vegetable Market) centre where he lives. He is at the moment going to secondary school and hopes to become an electrician.

The story of Bishara / Torino, ex-MOI

Bishara is 27 year old and he comes from Tchad. Since 2013 he has lived at the ex-MOI occupation in Turin, where he found a place to stay along with hundreds of other migrants after the end of the “North Africa Emergency”.


Vitalis’ story

My name Vitalis and I did not want to come to this country. I did not pay any ticket, I chose the sea when the soldiers of Gaddafi, with gun pressed on my face, asked to choose between a boat and a bullet. Leave or die. I was exhausted when I arrived in Lampedusa, the journey had lasted five days and I was wondering what my future would be, it was enough for me to be with my feet on dry land, with the sea behind. I spent two months in the center of Manduria and they told us that this was a temporary destination, we had to be patient, they took our fingerprints and we were given a number. Then one day, with the buses we have been moved to Piedmont, in Settimo Torinese. Our new home was called Hotel Giglio.

At the time Giglio was always empty, we could survive, but every day we were not alive. We had a bed and hot meals and days were all the same but we are not farm animals, we are men. On January 23, the revolt broke out, we were exasperated by the smallest things, that day we blocked the road outside the hotel and the police arrived, the people working there all ran away but we did not want to hurt anyone, just wanted to shout that we are also men, who want to live. After the revolt I have been expelled from Giglio, it was cold in those days and I found that many people like me were on their way. The camps were closing, and we who came from Libya we stood in the streets, in train stations to freeze.
When they told me that a group of refugees was thinking of occupying some blocks of flats, and there were Italians willing to help, I wanted to join them because I do not want to be cared for, I want the opportunity to take care of myself, to feel that I am to decide about my future.

Today, these homes are a small Africa, we are here in six hundred people, we come from 25 different countries and we are learning to live together. At first Ghanaians wanted to be alone with Ghanaians and did not trust anyone else, and so it was for Nigerians and Malians and Eritreans. Now Ethiopians and Tuareg are drinking tea together, Sudanese and Ghanaian divide the expenses and meals. We are all equal here, we’re the ones who came from Libya, the survivors. Even now it is not simple, we live without hot water and no heating, but this is our home and not just a place to stay because from here we stopped being treated like children and we are ready to fight for our rights and the our dignity.

Vitalis is 28 years old and comes from Nigeria, arrived in Lampedusa on August 13, 2011. After the closure of the Emergency reception centers in North Africa , it was found in the street while being beneficiary of international protection . Along with hundreds of other refugees gave birth in the city of Turin employment population EX MOI where he currently resides.


Looking for a place for happiness

My name is Samuel and I hope that at least this is my place. First I was at  Yaoundé in Cameroon, I lived in a house on the first floor, in the market area. Down below I sold shirts, trousers, clothes of all sorts. The people in the market all knew me and I knew everyone. When the government decided to build a new trunk road we found that our houses and shops were all going to be demolished. So we decided to protest, all the tradespeople of the area, all together, to ask for another place to go at least. The government didn’t like that and I discovered in a few hours that I had become a political criminal.

I fled my country at night and made my way to Nigeria. God couldn’t have abandoned me. Perhaps he just wanted to tell me, I kept repeating to myself, that that wasn’t my place.

In Libya I decided to stop. No, I had never thought that it was the right place, but it had been on the move for months, I had crossed Nigeria, Niger and Algeria, I was exhausted and completely broke. I learned the trade of plasterer and did stucco work, I liked working as a decorator, I fell in love with a woman and we went and lived together. In Libya a foreigner can be almost happy, happy no. There was work, but there was nothing else for us, the Arabs call us Africans, as if they weren’t Arabs too. I didn’t care, all I was worried about was putting together a bit of money in order to go away and start again somewhere else. [twitter_share]You never know when it’s going to be the last day, in the morning you go out and when you return in the evening there is just a crater and rubble and dust.[/twitter_share]

They say it was a missile but who launched it and why I have never found out.

When the war broke out, even the Africans became the enemy: the rebels accused us of being Gaddafi’s militiamen, the royalists of fighting with the rebels. Anyone we encountered would have good reasons to kill us, so we escaped again, always at night. During the crossing I didn’t think of anything, all I kept repeating to myself was that Libya was not my place. From Tripoli to Lampedusa it was a quiet crossing, and after a night at sea, with the first light of day we landed on the island. I remember the Red Cross people and lots of people running up and down the jetty.

Italy is not what I imagined it to be, there’s no work and at times they look at you on the bus as if you were not welcome. But I think that perhaps this is my place, that there must be a sense to all this, that perhaps I am here for my brothers, for our rights. Perhaps I’m also here to tell my story, so that it isn’t forgotten.

Samuel P. arrived in Italy in 2011. When the North Africa emergency programme finished he found himself in the street again and without a home, despite the fact that he had regular refugee status. He and another hundred or so refugees in the city of Turin have occupied the EX MOI buildings where he lives at present.

A life as an invisible

My name is Hassan and I live at the Lingotto, even if everyone calls it EX MOI here, the place where the foreigners live. Perhaps nobody is interested to know how they live but I am one of them and so I want to tell you about it. It’s hard living here, day after day, without work, without heating, without hot water. We’re not hiding here, we came from the sea, to Lampedusa, to Pozzallo; we all have documents and this makes our situation even more absurd, and us more and more tired of it. I have often thought of going to another country, where you can live better, but we have left our fingerprints here and we’ve had to learn about the Dublin Convention and understand that we can’t leave Italy. The Convention kills and I ask myself how Europe can have a law that kills foreigners like us a little at a time, we are just poor people, we haven’t been able to live in our countries because of war and famine. How could we know that we would find the same on the other side of the Mediterranean. [twitter_share]At times when you are walking along you see that people have crossed  the road to the other side because they have just seen you, perhaps they are scared of the colour of our skins or we remind them of someone who robbed them once.[/twitter_share]

Among us there are good people and bad people and that’s the same among Italians too, but I don’t cross the road. This has no sense. Before Italy I had never seen anything like it. You feel like stopping and shouting: “ Come over here! I want to tell you about us!”, but perhaps they would hurry on even faster and so you don’t say anything and you think that it wasn’t the right time to say it anyway. I’ve decided that I want to write, to tell our story to everyone, even to us. Perhaps through poetry, or a theatrical work. I’m not going to write to become famous, my name is of no importance, I want everyone to forget it and remember only what I write and that it was written by one of us. I hope that many people who live like me will want to do the same. The truth about us is unknown, invisible, and many people don’t even ask themselves “why is that person grubbing around in the rubbish or collecting things that other people are not interested in any more?”. The truth about us is something that hurts, and that’s why nobody wants to know but we can’t wait any longer, we must find the best moment to tell it. Hassan is a Somali. He arrived at Lampedusa from Tripoli in 2008 and has lived in Turin since 2010. His dream today is to become a writer. He is currently working on theatrical monologues on the subject of welcome and integration.

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