It is a well worn cliche to say that desperate times call for desperate measure, but we all know how much truth can be contained in such a cliche.
Migrants held at Rome’s infamous Ponte Galeria detention center, decided to literally sew their mouths shut in a display of solidarity with one another and as resistance against the denial of their rights, similar to what migrants on Australia’s notorious Christmas Island have done. While many migrants have had their applications for asylum approved and have , thus, moved on, there are those who remain in a limbo state, the ones who are not easily categorized, the one’s who fall through the cracks.
As if the entire enterprise of leaving your homeland for greener pastures is not already rife with every danger trap conceivable, once the migrants arrive, they are held in poor conditions, often detained and treated like criminals and live in a sort of vacuum—where they wait and wait and wait but often hear little or , as is usually the case, no information on the the progress (or lack thereof) of their applications, how long they will be detained or where they may be sent next. The lack of communication compounds the anxiety, restlessness, boredom and fear that they have, more likely than not , already arrived with. They lack any autonomy at all—every aspect of their lives’ are regulated from the point of arrival. It is a strange and paradoxical situation, where they are , once almost “non-persons” , but to whom a lot of (negative) attention is given.
They are protesting harsh living conditions—the small cells and mattresses on the floors, the lack of communication from a lack of Italian language skills as well as the fact that no information is ever offered or is forthcoming. They lack any legal advice or assistance for mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. The length of time their applications take to process is due to Italy’s notorious (and worsening) bureaucratic system .
And so, a needle and a thread through their mouths and their lips as a clear signal of protest and resistance. One can only imagine to what point you must be driven to do such a thing.
The brave and novel act has garnered some attention and has made a difference , to at least a few who were released from detention and at least one who was reunited with his wife and children.
Italy is no stranger to the harsh criticism meted out to them for their treatment of migrants , immigrants and refugees. Turning a blind eye to suffering and failing to reconsider a harsh and restrictive immigration policy has made things continually worse , over time.
Once wonders when it will end.
Maybe Italy should realize that most migrants and refugees don’t want to stay in Italy anyway.
For now , the stitches that they sewed are out. But none of the men involved have ruled out the fact that they will sew it all up , once again, if no progress is made.
Eventually, and we all know it , the law, simply must change.