Over the next three days, the Luxembourg Contact Point of the European Migration Network will be hosting a conference entitled Freedom of Movement: A Human Right?, at the Cercle Cité in Place d’Armes. The chosen title may seem a rhetorical question (see Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), yet for many national governments, not to mention the EU, the right to freedom of movement is more relative than universal – hence the need to insist on asking the question. It would be interesting to listen to the justifications, put forward by the ministers and the Frontex representative taking part in the conference, for the arbitrary mathematics employed in their people-filtering practices. There is a very interesting conference programme: there will also be talks by representatives of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), and by a number of migration academics.
Among them, on Wednesday 5th at 9 am, Dr. Gilles Reckinger will be giving a talk in German entitled Das europäische Grenzregime und die Lebensrealität auf Lampedusa, based on his recently published book Lampedusa: Begegnungen am Rande Europas (Peter Hammer Verlag, 2013). In addition to the situation of migrants arriving, surviving and waiting on the island of Lampedusa, Gilles Reckinger has also recently studied the plight of migrant workers in the orange and tangerine plantations of Rosarno in Calabria, southern Italy, in conjunction with anthropologist, journalist and photographer Carole Reckinger. Their findings are summarised in the article “Welcome to Europe! A view from Italy. The creation of a textbook neo-liberal worker“, included in Issue 1 of Le monde n’est pas rond.
As part of the conference programme, at 7 pm this evening, Ciné Utopia in Limpertsberg will be screening the Norwegian film Nowhere Home (2012), by Margreth Olin, with English subtitles. The film follows Goli, from Kurdistan, brothers Hassan and Husein from Afghanistan, and other asylum seekers, each deported from Norway on their 18th birthday. A trailer of the film is available here, and a synopsis below.
“Is the reason why we have a system that doesn’t recognize other people’s suffering, because we can keep it at a distance?” This is the question filmmaker Margreth Olin asks herself halfway through her documentary about Norwegian policy on asylum seekers who are minors. Her film is an attempt to bring the suffering into the open. She follows a number of boys placed in Salhus, a center offering temporary residence for 20 child asylum seekers. While they’re still hoping for an extension of their asylum status, the date of their 18th birthday hangs like a Sword of Damocles above their head. Most of them will be deported as soon as they come of age, and that means an uncertain future in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq or other war-torn regions. The fear and the hopelessness often lead to psychological problems, and in some cases to self-destructive behavior. Olin follows one of the boys even after his deportation. It takes the boy two months to return to Europe, where an existence as an illegal immigrant is still better than life in Iraqi Kurdistan. Nowhere Home uncovers the reality of a question that has been one of Europe’s major moral dilemmas for many years.
Representatives of independent activist group Personne n’est illégal – Luxembourg will be at Ciné Utopia to watch the film. If you’d like to come and talk to us afterwards, or if you’d like to purchase a copy of the Le monde n’est pas rond newspaper, look out for a bearded Mediterranean with a green shirt and a grey beret. We’ll soon be publishing a call for submissions for Issue 2, so if you have any proposals (articles, short stories, photographs, art / illustrations, poems, etc.), let us know!